Editor’s Note: This post is by contributing writer and my father , Paul D. Waldrop, my “Outdoors Dad”. . .the original as far as I’m concerned.
In the spring of 1980 my first born was a year and a half old. He was named after me and we called him Little Paul. It was time to take him fishing. I wanted my son to love the outdoors and be an outdoorsman. We had taken him fishing and camping numerous times since his birth, but this fishing trip was just for him. I wanted him to catch his very first fish, feel the thrill of the tug, and reel it in.
To start this adventure I figured digging some worms was a great first lesson. I took him to a spot in the garden where I knew there would be worms. I didn’t want him reaching for worms and getting hurt as I was putting the shovel into the dirt so I sat him where he was out of reach of the turned over clods. I put a #10 can in front of him and explained his job was to pick up the worms I tossed in front of him and put them in the can. It was a simple enough task for an 18 month old and in the doing he could see he was part of the process and was helping.
It took me showing him several times before he fully understood what I wanted him to do. As with most people, Little Paul began to do it his own way. At first I was frustrated as he took the can of worms and dumped them out in the spot where I had been tossing them. I explained the process to him several more times but he insisted in dumping the worms out.
As my curiosity overtook my frustration I just let him do whatever he was going to do and see what he was up to. It became very apparent that he had decided that the way I was digging worms was not the correct way. The thing I had been missing was the fact that each worm needed to be tensile tested before being accepted and placed in the can.
I was trying not to lose it laughing as I watched him take each worm, one end in one hand, the other end in the other hand, and begin to stretch. If by some chance the worm survived this test of little Paul’s he deemed it worthy to be put into the can. However, if the worm broke into two halves Little Paul simply threw the broken worm in a two handed motion over his shoulders so that it landed somewhere behind him.
I had never had such fun digging worms; we took so long “diggin’” worms that we didn’t have much fishing time. We got to the small lake near Randolph, Utah with maybe only about a half hour to fish. Little Paul had watched me catch fish many times…a fact that I had never considered until a few minutes after we threw in his line. Little Paul got a bite, the tip of the pole dipped, and he set the hook.
I could tell he had been observing me closer than I had thought because when the pole dipped and he set the hook it was with all the might and furry one would use to set the hook on a much larger fish. The poor fish, about 10-11 inches in length, flew around two feet into the air before the hook was pulled out of his mouth and it splashed back into the lake. Little Paul then dropped the pole and gave me a look that said, “Why did you let my fish get away?”
Most of the best things in life are unplanned and unconsidered. When I count the really great times in my life and great times outdoors “Diggin’ Worms” that day with Little Paul is one of the Best. Remembering always brings a smile.