Sunday, a beautiful, sunny, and warm day. Father led the way, red cooler in one hand, fishing rods in the other. The hike was short but hard. The drive was long but worthwhile. The fishing spot is secret. Five Fingers is what they call it.
Hike down a steep hill, traverse through pine trees until they taper off to shrubs than a small guessing game in the swamp.
That’s where the regular Joe’s hike ended. Tabias grimaced a few times but never faltered. The mud-filled his shoes as he held the gear out for Father to take down the last decline.
A secret rope was tied to a half-fallen tree. Tabias held the line with one hand and Father’s shoulder with the other. They descended slowly. A glance from Father confirmed he was handling the hill just fine.
Frozen waterfalls on one side as they walked the rocky beach at the bottom of the tree rope descent. A human-made dam at the head of the river and their favorite fishing spot just below it.
Tabias followed silently; temerity had a time and a place. Fishing is serious business.
They sat on the edge of a boulder; Father put the cooler down before opening the lid. Inside sat a Styrofoam dish of bait worms and two peanut butter/banana sandwiches.
Tabias pocketed his sammy and stuffed his fingers into the damp soil to retrieve a worm.
A fat wiggly worm tried valiantly to escape. Tabias stuffed the worm onto the hook, being sure the clitellum was over the hook tie.
Father rested his hand on Tabias’ back. Well done, he said with a nod. No words.
The line fell silently into the river, alongside Father’s. A pat on the back and Tabias knew to snap the spool lock closed to stop the hook from floating too far downriver.
Side by side, the two lines danced from side to bottom of the river with the current.
Father jumped up, the tip of his rod jerked down, the line disappeared, and his smile grew wide. Father caught a fish!
Tabias nearly dropped his rod out of excitement, but Father put a hand in front of him and shook his head. Father reeled his line in. The float popped up and, on end, a baby-sized fish.
Exasperated, Father shrugged and moved to release the small fish. This time it was Tabias who stopped Father. He motioned for Father to drop the hook, fish and all, back into the river.
Father’s eyebrows grew, but the next fish he pulled out was large enough for a hardy meal. Rainbow Trout, with scales that glittered like the sun’s smile and his fins the color of silver but not quite. They are speckled with purple and steel cloth blue.
A high five and a cooler full of river water and fish, Tabias and Father left their secret fishing hole. Not a word was needed; their understanding was more profound than words.