With relief, I pulled the hook from inside the fish. I looked it over and it appeared all right. That was good because killing a fish really puts a damper on the catch-and-release idea I practice with students I take fishing.
Now, right before I put the little bluegill back into the water, I asked if anyone wanted to kiss it first. I hadn?t had any takers yet, despite me telling them it will give them good luck (hey, everyone needs a fish tale or two). This time, though, one brave girl gave it a go.
Great, I said, and then released the fish. It immediately floated to the surface. Uh oh. I gave it a couple nice pushes to get water moving over the gills and it made some very enthusiastic circles.
Then up it floated again.
The proper thing to do was to use the fish as an example regarding swallowing hooks, the importance of returning fish to the water as soon as possible, and basically use it as a teachable moment.
Instead, I decided to blame the girl and told her she had the kiss of death.
In about eight years, I expect to get a bill for therapy from this poor kid when she can?t get a prom date. Luckily for me, currently neither she nor her classmates regard kissing each other as anything other than disgusting.
Naturally, after that, I had no more takers on kissing fish. The first girl did offer again, perhaps to prove it wasn?t her. The problem was, the fish in question had also swallowed the hook, though not quite as bad as the first one. I wasn?t taking any chances. The fish went free, and alive, unkissed.
Being the person that I am, I pointed out its survival, and told her, see, it was you. Kiss. Of. Death.
Actually, it was a rather great field trip. Most of the kids caught fish and the day was sunny, calm, and not too hot. Overall, definitely a success.
And, I am sure, they returned home with their own fish tales to tell.
You and your family can create your own fish tales and memories. From June 1 through 3, the DNR has its free fishing days. This means that anyone can fish without a license (although all other fishing regulations apply).
If you don?t know where to start, or want more ideas, or even some extra help, come to our Youth Fishing Clinic on Saturday, June 2. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Conservation Center in Marr Park. After educational sessions on tips, Iowa fish (featuring live fish), and water safety, everyone will head out to try their hand fishing. At the end, we?ll give out door prizes and have a light fish fry luncheon.
And I promise I won?t ask anyone to kiss a fish.