By: By Lisa Smartt
I’ve never been ice fishing. Some of you have probably traveled to frigid places where it’s common to venture out on the ice and bore a fishing hole. Sometimes the fishermen even have little tents they put up around the hole to protect them from the icy wind. I’ve only seen that kind of fishing on television. Truthfully, it looks like a pretty miserable way to spend a Saturday morning. Though I’ve never sat on the ice and fished through a tiny hole, I’ve come pretty doggone close ... and lived to tell the tale.
Saturday morning my boys were up at the crack of dawn ready to go to the fishing rodeo at UTM. This was a special day of fishing organized and facilitated by the Wildlife Society students. My beloved husband knows a lot about fishing. It only makes sense that he would accompany my wild-spirited enthusiastic little men on the fishing venture. But, no. My dear husband had to be at Reelfoot Lake on Saturday morning facilitating a project with his own college students. So, I looked around our house wondering who would be the next best candidate for taking the boys on the fishing trip. Lo and behold, there was only one option.
I don’t know how to fish. It’s all rocket science to me. I knew that the fine college students would be available to assist my boys, but I felt like I was walking into a calculus conference. I tried to warn my sons of my inadequacy as we were traveling to the big event. “Boys, I just want you to know that I’m really happy to be going with you on this little adventure. But I don’t know anything at all about fishing. You’ll have to ask the college students to help you. If you need to spell a word while you’re on the banks of Pacer Pond, I’m there for you. If you have an emotional problem, I’m all ears. But, when it comes to putting a worm on a hook or casting a line, I’m out of my zone.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mom! We know how to fish! Besides, it was only that one time that we got our lines all tangled in a tree.”
“Yeah, but what about the time you snagged your brother in the arm with the fishing hook?”
“Oh Mom, that was when we were little kids. We would NEVER do that now!”
I could feel a cold sweat building on my forehead. When we arrived at the pond, I had a second revelation. The temperature was only seven degrees Fahrenheit. It was April and it was 25 degrees below freezing. OK. Most people said it was actually 45 degrees Fahrenheit. But I don’t believe any of them. The wind was about 70 miles per hour and I’m convinced that ice fishing in the Arctic would have been a warmer proposition than fishing at Pacer Pond on Saturday.
The UTM students worked hard and planned a wonderful outing for the kids. I’m grateful for their help and expertise. Each of my boys caught four fish with the help of a brilliant man whose daughter is a UTM Wildlife student. The smiles on their faces told the story. Radiant. As for me, I learned some valuable lessons as well. Wet feet and a few tree limbs couldn’t thwart the enthusiasm of my boys. Dead fish smell like dead fish. Fishing is a delicate art form. I think I’ll stick with writing.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.16.08
Lisa Smartt, Smartt View