Well-traveled tackle box teaches life lessons


Traveling with us through many moves, has been an old, beat up tackle box –– a rather unspectacular aluminum case with chipped green paint.

An elderly friend had determined that his fishing days were over. He took my son, then 5 years old, to the side and gave him the tackle box before his fishing days had begun. As the box passed from man to boy, so did a story. The tale wrapped itself around a warning of sharp fish hooks and pierced fingers. My son lugged off the box with a vision for future adventures, a story immortalized by an old scar and a huge smile of joy.

We took the box home and stowed it away. Over the past seven years, this box has lived under a bed, in a closet and on a shelf in the shed. Once in a while, the box is opened and the bulging contents are rummaged through by kids. Many times, the story of the scar is passed on. Like all good fish stories, it grows with repetition.

One day this summer, I opened the sacred container and began to organize its treasures. This mom has little knowledge of fishing but lives by the idea that things should be straightened up and used. In my limited fish-lingo, the tackle box now has a section dedicated to each group of equipment. We have floaty things, sinking things, fuzzy things and sticky/stinky things. Oh, yes, and the tale-infused section of hooks.

Determined to do more than just store this box of wonderment, the kids and I have headed off to the lake. Our lack of experience is evidenced by goofed-up reels, hooks that end up caught in a tree or coat sleeve after casting, and a void in the bucket reserved for our catch.

The first few times, “fishing” was just an excuse to dig through the tackle and try something flashy or smelly or fuzzy. More than once I have found myself gazing into the tackle and thinking, “If I were a fish, I might like that.”

It seems to me that fishing is really just trying to trick a fish. All you really want it to think is that you are handing out snacks with no barbs attached. Our smokescreens have been unsuccessful. However, we have had many tricks played on us. We have become excited, pulling in a weighty line only to find a stick, lake goop or nothing –– not even the hook.

The novelty of lures has worn thin as we watch others actually catch fish. Now that the experimentation is over, we have started to seek advice. Putting flashy, fuzzy lures aside … others use chicken … or, heaven forbid … actual, real worms!

Fishing has taught me little about fish, but much about relationships.

First, passing on something to a child (whether it’s a tale or a piece of the past) is a treasure.

Second, without a mentor, the learning curve can be insurmountable.

And last, fancy lures don’t cover the pain of an ugly hook.

In other words, whether you are landing a job, friends or a fish, having the real thing on the outside as well as on the inside is the only thing that truly works.

Kerri Hofmann lives in Federal Way with her three children.

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