By Dave Anderson
It's weird how certain things stick in your mind. It was 1992, I'm guessing it was not long after school let out for the summer, I was 12. This is my grandfather's back yard and there is a small pond behind the camera--before I became obsessed with fishing, there was not a single fish in that pond--just frogs, turtles, tadpoles and hellgrammites. I started carting bass and panfish back from the reservoir across the street when I was 8 and that summer after sixth grade was the first time we really saw results.
All the 'junk' around me in the photo is from sleeping out on the lawn the night before, no tent, no tarp, just a couple sleeping bags, some snacks, sodas, a flashlight and my two friends, Jeremy and Wes. I remember waking up, it was one of those mornings where the air feels heavy and wet and the warmth hangs around you, almost visible, like you could push it aside like a curtain.
For weeks prior to this excursion, I had been obsessed with finding a purple spinnerbait after seeing one in a Berkley fishing ad; they were impossible to find so I had to make one--I guess I haven't changed much. Anyway, after we woke up and took turns casting from the one spot where a person could throw from into that pond, we sat down and ate 'breakfast'--I don't remember what we ate, but I'd guess it was made by Hostess and was probably washed down with a half-gone grape soda.
I took out my new purple creation and I remember being afraid I might lose it in the willow tree that framed the casting perch. I stood with my bare feet in the muck and leaned left so that a hard, sidearm flip would sail below the willow branches. I surveyed my cast and aimed for the lily pads in the back corner. Once in a while, you know, you just hit one right and this cast was a majestic shot, right down the center of the fairway, landing just short of the lilies I was shooting for. I only had to retrieve about 15 feet before I simultaneously saw and felt the take. I remember feeling so satisfied with this fish, caught on a modified lure, a fish I had definitely caught before and carried across the street to release into the pond. The only thing I didn't know enough to appreciate was the moment itself. When you're 12, you feel like you're always going to be 12, you'll always wake up and do whatever you feel like, you'll always want to sleep out on the lawn with your buds, and your parents will always make those things possible. But, I knew that there would be another moment like it the very next day--strung together with all of the other ones that summer--most of them are forgotten. But I do feel so lucky to remember the feeling of that morning--the cold dew mixed with the stifling early heat, the feeling of having two friends that were always up for anything, the relief of summer vacation and that one cast.