fish tales from the towpath

By Susan B. Price, originally published in "The Canal Times" in 2007

Chasing Your Heart’s Desire

My nephew Patrick and I agree: lots of things in life come through determination and practice. He can juggle. I can make little movies. He’s sure fishing falls into this category. I have my doubts.

We go out early to the Erie Canal. There are fish, yes, but who knows what will be swimming by. Who knows what will be interested in a breakfast worm.

Patrick has a new fishing pole. He, new to fishing, caught a few fish yesterday, but they were tiny – only enough to fire up his imagination and persuade him to buy his own rod. The canal is where he’s going to catch the Big One, like that old carp who surfaces to snatch bread thrown to ducks.

It doesn't work out that way. The fish of his fantasies doesn’t want to play. We fish at Pittsford Landing, then over at Lock 32. We finally have to stop when his line gets hopelessly tangled under the spool and major frustration sets in. The longer fishing pole has not attracted bigger fish.

So here is where fishing is trickier than juggling. So much is out of your control. Practice helps, but if the fish aren't biting, all that ambition goes to hell. My teenage nephew gets the picture: a new kind of learning has to come into play – learning to operate in a world where nature takes its own darn course.

That’s fishing for you. It’s not about your own inner improvability, but about a more elusive heart's desire, always just beyond your reach, seductive, but quirky and uncontrollable.

Drop me a line!