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A Simple Plan

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I found my great love for fishing while growing up on the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona. Whenever my uncles or neighbors went fishing, I grabbed my tackle box and fishing pole and jumped in the back of their pickup truck. My dad never understood why I enjoyed fishing so much, but because he knew his three sons liked to fish, he bought us fishing rods and tackle. He even helped us look for worms, but never showed any interest in the sport.

 

One day my two younger brothers—ten-year-old Carl and nine-year-old Boy—and I somehow talked our dad into taking us to nearby San Carlos Lake. As we began to cast out, Dad remained in the truck, reading his paper.


All of a sudden I had an idea! What if I talked Dad into fishing just this once? What if he somehow caught the biggest fish today? Then he’d have to fall in love with fishing, too! Then he’d want to take us fishing ALL the time. What a great plan!

I shared my amazing plan with my younger brothers. We coaxed Dad out of the truck, and to our surprise, he walked down and joined us at the shoreline. But he ignored the fishing poles and simply opened his lawn chair and continued reading his paper. My brothers and I looked at one another, dumbfounded. Now what do we do?

Then, a possible answer—a large fish jumped not far from us. Quickly I put on the biggest worm in our can, cranked back as far as a twelve-year-old could, then let the line fly. I hit the spot almost dead-on where the big fish had jumped.

Propping my rod next to Dad and his newspaper, I walked over to my brothers and pretended to untangle their lines. Every now and then I would glance at the bobber on my line. After what seemed hours, the bobber moved! Then it moved again!

“Dad! Grab my line! I can’t get over there,” I yelled. “Carl’s line is all tangled up!”

“You boys come pull it in before it eats your worm,” he countered.

All four of us watched the bobber dance on the water. Then Dad scooted to the edge of his chair and dropped his newspaper on the ground. Suddenly, the bobber disappeared.

In unison, my brothers and I yelled, “Pull the line, pull the line!”

Dad jumped up, grabbed the rod and pulled the line tight. “Something big’s on here, boys!” he shouted. “Get over here and help me!”

We ran over and stood by him as the line moved slowly through the water.

“Don’t lose him, Dad!” I yelled.

“Don’t give him any slack,” my brother yelled.

“Start turning the handle; reel him in!” screamed my other brother as we watched a grown man holding tight to a fishing rod, straining as it bent from the weight of something big.

“Turn the handle now, Dad, pull that fish in, Dad. You got him, Dad!” I yelled again. It was funny to see three little boys, jumping up and down and yelling orders at their dad as he tried to land his first fish.

Finally Dad, all excited about the fish he was about to catch, braced himself.

“Okay, Dad, we’ll get him when you drag him out,” my brothers and I said. One last pull and out came the . . .

“It’s a turtle, a big turtle!” we yelled.

“Turtle!” Dad gasped as he instantly jumped back. “See? See? You boys know turtles are not to be touched by Apaches—they are taboo!” he said, as the turtle wiggled on its back. “This is why I never wanted to fish!” He dropped my pole and stormed back to the truck.

My brothers and I stared down at the turtle wiggling at our feet.

“You take it off!” my brothers said.

“No, you take it off!” I answered.

“No, no, it was your idea,” they reminded me.

Many years later, I can still hear my brothers’ words, and I smile, remembering that day long ago when we tried to get our dad to fall in love with fishing. I really don’t recall who took the hook out of the turtle that afternoon. But one thing I do remember. Although Dad never did develop an interest in fishing, he did help us dig for worms many more times, and he still took us on many more fishing trips during our childhood—and he did it simply because he was our dad.


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