As a child, I wasn’t given much opportunity to demonstrate my breathtaking skill with a fishing rod.
My journey to expert angler commenced when my father took the family up to Curraghmore Lake, one of the dark pockets of water in the Magillycuddy Reeks. He also brought a fishing rod which was no doubt state of the art circa 1940.
I believe my mother and I were expected to pick flowers and/or watch admiringly from a rock, while Dad introduced his sons to the noble art of fishing. He probably envisioned bonding with his sons, you know: back-slapping, telling dirty jokes and smoking cigars while providing for his family.
In retrospect, the expedition was doomed. Dad’s really more a finger-pointer than a back-slapper, and he’s never told a joke any dirtier than mildly smutty, and not only does he not smoke but Eoin and Daire would have been about 7 and 3 years old respectively so the whole chomping cigars thing would have been somewhat inappropriate.
To seal his doom, I’ve never been much into picking flowers or, for that matter, being told what to do (these conditions persist to this day). So after about half an hour impatiently watching Dad, Eoin and Daire, I demanded a go.
Dad finally succumbed when I threatened to cry.
We stood on a large rock overlooking the lake and Dad reluctantly handed over the rod. I cast inexpertly and the sullen waters of Curraghmore Lake swallowed the lure without a sound.
At this point I got a little flustered because I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Dad was getting over-excited about winding in the reel, whatever THAT was. Also, because I was about 9, my attention span was pretty much fully occupied with whining.
Dad was snatching at the rod and I was grizzling something along the lines of, “Da-ad! Get o-off! It’s MY TURN.”
Dad barked, “Just- wind it in wind it in! You’ll get it STUCK!”
The line jerked, and I said something like, “Aww Dad it’s broke-e-en! This is stupid.”
And Dad issued one of those projectile TUT!s that are a skill acquired with children, and said, “Ach, now look what you’ve done. It’s stuck.”
Having finally located the windy thing, I was lack-lustrely turning it, when there was a splash and a fish flipped over the surface of the water.
“Look!” I screamed. The line whizzed.
“Give it here!” roared Dad and grappled the rod off me.
If he’d landed it, I’m sure the event would have been fully obscured by the mists of time and never referred to again. Happily (for me if not my long-suffering father) the story: ‘How Dad Lost My Fish’, or ‘The Fish That Got Away All Because Of Dad’, has passed into family legend. I try to reference it at least once during any reunion of one or more family members.
(My brothers are complicit in swearing it was the biggest fish in the whole of Ireland, possibly the world, possibly ever.)
Also see: the story of Trevor the Trout.
Husband and I are currently working on some family legends of our own.