Several years ago, I can remember going down to the river during late winter to try my hand during the walleye run. I had forgotten how much fun it really was. Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to go back with my former high school basketball coach. He is a nut about fishing, and his specialty is walleye. We spent all day jigging for this wonderful table delicacy. We brought home seven keepers. I was sure glad he let me take them all home, and no one at my house complained about supper that night. Coach is on the list of the retired whose work now is fishing on every day that ends in Y. While some are still in the getting and gaining mode, these men are pursuing the simple contentment that comes from being on one end of a rod or gun. Another retiree told me, "Every day is Saturday." He loves life. He also admonished me to make sure that I keep my sons and grandsons hunting and fishing so they will "stay out of trouble." He told me his son, who is now raising his on family, lives on the lake and fishes every day. He was so proud of that.
You see, to these men, their boat was more than a tool to catch fish. It was also a place where the awkwardness of a conversation between a father and his child, became easy. Over the years, the lake or the river had become a place where counseling, advice, and even prayers were offered. It was a place where major decisions were contemplated and settled. It was there that interruptions were welcomed if they were of the fish variety. And it was there that smiles were real and honest.
It seems most men need help in communicating at times. We struggle with the right words and tone of voice, and even timing. The fishing trip knocks the edge off all that and allows us to spoon feed words of wisdom to those who must grow up, and old, and to those who need to "stay out of trouble." I have witnessed these things personally. I have watched young men, who would never normally hang out or listen to an older guy; listen with interest, all because I chose the timing of my advice to fall at the exact moment I was untangling a line or putting on bait. A lot of people cram truth down people's throat. They brag about not candy-coating their admonition, as if truth need be hard and cruel. And old song says, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down." We would do well to consider that. And the best sugar I know is found in the seat of a boat.