The Rear End

To Fish or Not to Fish

maybe it’s time to climb back into the boat

Mike Paulus |

I don’t fish. My dad does, but I don’t. He goes fishing all the time. Every spare minute he gets, he’s on a dock or a boat or a shoreline casting his line into the water. I can’t even remember that last time I held a fishing pole. However, it wasn’t always like this.

My family used to spend pretty much every weekend – all year round – up north at a little cabin that didn’t even have a color TV (black and white ... the indignity). And every morning, my dad would wake me up and drag me out to go fishing for what felt like all damn day. 

I know I’m probably reinforcing a stereotype many people hold about the kind of people who write for this magazine, but I think fishing sucks. I’ve got nothing against the sport or the fishermen who do it, and I’m glad it exists and all, but I don’t like doing it. It’s boring and it takes forever and it kind of stinks and it’s boring. I never got into it – as a kid, I’d whine and complain, and I probably made my dad’s eyes roll right out of his head a couple of times. There was always something else I felt I should be doing, even though all I did after we got to shore was eat and watch TV.

I’m older now, and even though I could totally add a whole host of exciting factors to the ol’ fishing equation, like beer and adult conversation, I still have a hard time getting excited about fishing. I think I’ve got too many years of un-enjoyment clouding my memory. 

Now, I really, really like to eat fish, so you’d think that’d provide plenty of motivation. Nope. Even my hunger for tasty fried fillets will not prompt me to ask my dad to take me fishing – or (gasp) go on my own. I’d still rather do other things ... like eat and watch TV. My wife recently said she’d like to go fishing and I immediately assumed she meant she’d like to have my dad take us fishing (he and my mom moved from Eau Claire, back up north about ten years ago). Not the case. She said we could probably find somewhere closer to home.


There are plenty of lakes around here. And people go fishing right in town all the time. Driving through Carson Park or by our fine waterways, you can see tons of people, young men mostly, casting lines into the water. But to me, this is not fishing, (Although, I assume they pluck plenty of fish out of Half Moon Lake.) For me, fishing means driving two hours north of wherever you live to your family’s little cabin where you clumsily help your dad put a fishing boat into any number of lakes to spend hours in an uncomfortable little chair under the hot sun or rainy clouds to stare at the horizon and eat cheddar-flavored Pringles, cheddar-filled Combos, cheddar-n-sour cream Ruffles potato chips and hunks of actual cheddar cheese. Drinking lots of lemon-lime Slice soda is also part of the picture for me because back when I was doing some fishing, Slice was popular and tasted way better than 7Up, man. 

But mostly, “going fishing” means doing something with my dad.

As a result, fishing around Eau Claire or Chippewa Falls or Menomonie doesn’t even occur to me. Sorry about that, local DNR guys. I suppose if I was somehow convinced that fishing was more fun than all the other stuff there is to do around here, I’d look into a nice fishing spot close by. My dad has recently started talking about fishing up north again, asking if I can come up to go out with him. He’s talking about how good the fish are biting and about how good the fish are tasting. I’m glad he’s asking – I should give it another try, because, if my own dad likes it so much, how bad can it be?

Well, hold on. My dad also really likes pickled herring and Ernest Tubb’s twangy country crooning. I guess I should proceed back to fishing with caution.