Fishing! What parent doesn’t want to take their child down to a pond and fish? Fishing is a rite of passage. I remember my rite of passage. I was 7 years old when my dad handed me his fishing pole and took me to the Hudson River. I stuck a worm on the hook and tossed in the line. I was very patient back in those days, so I reeled in the line after 10 seconds. To my surprise there was a worm still on my hook.

“Boring!” I remember saying to my dad.

“You have to keep the line in for more than a second,” my dad responded.

I sighed and tried again. I must have had the line in for a whole minute before reeling it in. Soon, I noticed a snake dangling on my hook.

“Dad, I caught a sea monster!”

My dad chuckled and told me that it was an eel. I truly didn’t care what kind of wiggling creature it was, and chose not to go fishing for a long time.

Twenty-eight years later, I took my son fishing. We have a nice pond in our neighborhood with plenty of huge blue gill. The blue gill must be at least three or four inches long. A blissful benefit to our pond is that you can catch a fish a minute, so boredom doesn’t play a role in fishing with a 5-year-old. This particular day wasn’t my son’s first time fishing. He was a veteran fisherman; he’d fished once before.

Within the first few minutes he caught five fish. But for some reason over the next several minutes, my son didn’t get a nibble. We were using the good brand of canned corn too, so what could have been the problem?

The problem was solved very fast, when my son almost had the pole pulled from his hands.

“Dad, I have a whale!” he shouted.

I laughed and thought he was joking. But then I saw a creature thrashing wildly in the water. My son had hooked an enormous snapping turtle. He told me to unhook it so he could catch a fish. All that went through my mind was the eel. I never did unhook an eel, and I wasn’t about to unhook a snapping turtle.

I noticed our pool attendant, who’s a Durham firefighter, driving up. I asked him to unhook this beast so I didn’t have to dial 911. I tried to steady the snapping turtle, while the firefighter unhooked it. Do you realize that snapping turtles don’t like to be hooked? A crowd came to watch the excitement of this fishing trip. My son just wanted the turtle off the line so he could catch another blue gill.

After the five-minute ordeal, the snapping turtle was successfully unhooked, and my son ended up catching a few more fish. I spent the rest of the afternoon contemplating a different rite of passage.