The Annual Fishing Derby: A Mom's Humorous Fish Tale

By Debbie Farmer

There's really no logical explanation why we went to the annual fishing derby last weekend. A day not only chockfull of nature, but FISH.

Now keep in mind when I say "fishing," I use the term loosely. It wasn't the kind of fishing where you wake up at dawn, row out into the middle of a peaceful lake and wait quietly for hours on end. Noooo. This is the kind where you show up at around nine, sit in a cushy beach chair, and leisurely cast your line into a pre-stocked pond while eating chips and swilling diet soda. In other words, my kind of fishing.

But wait. Not so fast. Before you break out the tackle box and lures and go running off to the Calendar to find your own local fishing derby, let me warn you of a few important details.

The first thing is choosing the bait. There are several different kinds and chances are there will come a point in your day where you will actually have to choose between -ha! ha!- anchovies or live worms. After much debate with my kids, which involved words like gross and chicken and ewwie, we finally settled on using something called "Power Bait" which smelled awful, but somehow didn't seem so bad because it looked like Play-Doh and came in hot pink.

The second thing you should know is that there will be hundreds of other people sitting in cushy chairs on the dock with you. This is kind of nice, really, except for the fact there will also be that number of lines in the very same pond where you are fishing, and after about five nanoseconds your line will be tangled up with everybody else's like one gigantic macrame afghan.

However, strangely enough, there is a mysterious void that comes between casting into the pond and getting tangled up which is known as "The Window of Opportunity." This is where, as they say in some circles, the action happens.

Which brings us to the biggest problem of all: catching a fish.

Never mind that you've been sitting in the sun all day, holding your pole waiting for this very moment. Once you catch one you will have a live fish on your hands. A LIVE FISH. And not just any fish, mind you, but chances are a really mad 31-pound trout that is probably contemplating some form of horrible retaliation once on dry land.

However, tricky me, I had a plan. If I saw my children actually reeling one in, I'd do what any nature-conscious, outdoorsy type would do: I'd flail my arms wildly and shout "Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!" then toss the fish back in the water and run away.

OK, so it may not sound so Marty Stouffer-ish, but at least nobody gets hurt.

Luckily, as it turned out, I didn't have to worry. In the end our haul consisted of mostly seaweed and bottle caps. And, oh yeah, lots of fish stories about dexterous 5-foot long trout that, amazingly enough, always manage to get away.

And, hey, that's perfectly fine with me. I say the best thing about fishing is that you don't have to catch a fish to have fun. All you need is a nice pond, a cushy chair, and enough Power Bait to last the day.

And, oh yeah, don't forget the chips.

Debbie Farmer is an accomplished freelance writer published in magazines around the country. Her book "Don't Put Lipstick on the Cat!" is available from, or in bookstores everywhere.

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