It all started for me back when I was just a tad of a boy
-- my father was a fisherman like his father before him,
and he'd take me to the pond just down the trail from our
farm every chance we got to slip away from Mam and my sisters.
We'd sit there for hours, talkin' or not as the mood took
us, and takin' the fish home to Mam so she couldn't be mad
at the time wasted. As I've got older, I sometimes think
she knew where we were the whole time, but Mam was a smart
woman and she kept her knowin's to herself -- and got fish
out of it and a happy home.
But fish're strange critters, wily and cautious. To get
one to throw itself on a hook you're holdin' the other end
of takes brains and patience. You've got to learn to think
like that fish, lyin' out there in a world where going straight
up overhead's as easy as walking 'cross a room, and swimmin's
more like flyin'.
But first things first. You need four things to catch yourself
a fish: a pole, some line, a hook, and some bait. The pole
don't need to be anything fancy, though some folk go in for
poles with gold and jewels and all kinds of stuff that looks
like it belongs 'round a lady's neck 'stead of on a pole.
But any old pole will do, really. The heavier it is, the
less likely it is to break under the strain of a really big
'un, but then you got the pain of totin' it around, too.
So just choose what suits you.
Most poles come with lines and hooks already, but sometimes
a fish might snap your line and make off with it and the
hook, too. You can buy replacements that come in different
sizes and strengths. Line comes from type 1 up to type 9.
If you're fishin' in a creek or pond you want the lower numbers,
but if you're goin' after a giant sturgeon or a Rathan bluefish,
get the stronger, higher numbers. Hooks're the same way.
They come in sizes 1 up to who knows what, but you want to
be matchin' the size to the fish. Too big and the fish can't
really get hooked even if he's tryin' -- too small and he
won't even notice it.
Then there's bait. I suppose every fisherman has his own
secrets, but here's the key: different fish like different
food. Some fish like bait that's still squirmin' and kickin',
others want to make sure it's good and dead. Some fish like
little bitty bait, others want to bite off a chunk of somethin'
bigger. Bait comes in boxes, and how much you get depends
on how much they can wedge in there. If it's somethin' little
like fish eggs, you get a whole bunch, but if it's somethin'
big like slabs of meat, you don't.
So, now you're at a spot that looks like it ought to have
fish in it. Get your pole out and OPEN it up, if it's one
of the fancy foldin' ones. If you LOOK at your pole, you
can see if it's got a hook and line. If it don't, or if you
want to change them, hold your pole in your right hand, put
the envelope with the new line or hook either in an open
container you're wearing or drop it, and then GET the line
or hook in the envelope. You'll put it on the pole all ready
to use. Unfortunately, there ain't no way to save the old
line or hook.
LOOK at your pole again and see if it's baited. If it's
not, just hold the pole in your right hand and make sure
the bait's somewhere handy, like in an open container you're
wearing or on the ground, and GET the bait from the box.
There's some skill to baiting a hook, but keep at it, you'll
get it eventually.
Once you're all set, CAST your pole. You've got to be at
a good fishin' spot to do this -- fish don't live on land,
and some water's just too shallow or too nasty to have fish.
Once your hook's in the water, what you do next depends what
you want to catch. Some fish like bait that just sits there,
beggin' to be eaten. Some fish like bait that's swimmin'
around, or looks like it. You can YANK or WAVE your pole
to make the bait move around a little. You can PUSH your
pole to feed out more line so it sinks deeper or gets out
further from shore, or you can PULL your pole to bring the
bait closer to the surface. If you LOOK at the pole, you
can see how much line you've got out. If the line gets tangled
up, just UNTANGLE the pole to get it fixed.
Sooner or later you're going to get a fish to take an interest
and nibble your bait. PULL your pole to set the hook and
reel in the line, and hope the pole and the line stand up
to the strain!
Once you've got a fish, you've got some choices. You can
eat it -- though raw fish don't appeal to me, I hear some
people like it. You can sell it to a fish buyer, if there's
one nearby. If you think it might be a record breaker, you
can weigh it at one of the places that keeps track of such
things -- just PUT the fish on the scale -- and if it's the
biggest one of that variety caught so far, your name goes
up on the board for everyone to gawk at. They pay more for
record fish, too, something to keep in mind if the coin for
supplies is short.
But in the end, it's you and the fish. There's somethin'
almost mystical about fishin'. Fish live in the most beautiful
places in the world, soaring up or down with the flick of
a tail. Part of the water, they're born from stones, hatched
from the gravel of the sea bottom, and soaring through their
universe with almost no effort. The only things they need
to watch out for are bigger fish -- and a hidden hook.
So go match your wits against that monster lurking out there
in Lake Gwenalion or in the middle of the Reshalian Sea.
You'll come back a humbler and better person.