When it comes to family, beggars can’t be choosers, so best make yourself comfortable and learn your place. Fishing promises the unexpected, and how you manage to land a fish by hook, line and rod will be compared to all those proceeding and following. A good fishing story will decide your place in family history (especially a story about the one that got away). To claim your fame and survive family, recognize the cast of characters and manage their limitations. And be very afraid.
Dad is passionate about knives, but his filleting skills are that of a human Slap Chop. You learn to carve out walleye cheeks and then graduate to whole fish. Mum loves the outdoors, but only until it soils the good towels. You learn to destroy the evidence. To be successful in life and fishing, don’t rock the boat. Most important, understand that your role, regardless of age, is crucial to your family’s fishing success. It is a team effort to put fish on the plate, but there are those days where nothing goes as planned. Trouble arrives, more often than not, late in the day at the far side of the lake. For example, when a jig hook is buried so deep into the tip of a thumb that it is pushed into the bone. Brothers, uncles and cousins assemble to muster the leverage to free the hook, but no success. The only doctor available is a veterinarian. He makes due with a box cutter and the family’s home remedy for pain relief. (And the good boy also received a treat, a nice pat of the head, and a bandana to wear for the rest of the weekend). Fish with family and they are there to see you through the worst of it.
Be prepared to improvise when your fishing gear fails and family begins to turn on each other. Fishing will teach you (by way of physical and psychological abuse) to become driven to improve and practise one-upmanship. And perhaps, you will learn self-sufficiency because Dad and Mom are hopeless. Over time, if you can see yourself through the torment and in-fighting your efforts might go unnoticed, and this is the ultimate compliment. Remember, the greater their faults, the better person you are for overcoming such cruel fate.
Specialized labour and complete reliance keep a family together. Every camp needs a firebug, tarp technician, cook/bartender, mechanic, medic, and jester. If you possess none of these skills, then you will find glory through fishing. Prove how much better you are than the lot of them through your command of beginner’s luck. Don’t expect the admiration that one receives by repurposing coat hangers into cup holders for the boat, but there is always a special place for the one who puts food on the family table. If yours is a family that fishes together, well then, you could do worse. Fishing offers a unique set of challenges that may test the resolve of family, but above all else, it teaches you to stick together. You need to keep your stories straight when you retell how you landed that lunker or damaged that bottom-end. Survive these times on the water knowing that your place is secure, because no matter how horrible of a boor you are, family can’t shake you so easy.