Life Lessons - Bass, Bobwhite and Tin Cans

By: Jason Truman, General Manager, Bass Pro Shops Altoona

My first experience fishing was also my first experience in acoustics, parenting, and the total serenity that comes from wetting a line.

We did not have a boat, but my grandfather wanted to go fishing. I remember it was right after Father’s Day, because we had gotten him a pretty cool “fishing chair” as a gift. It was nothing more than a fold out lawn chair that had a built-in drink holder, a rod holder and a small tackle box all attached. I’m not going to lie; it was the real deal back then! We got it from Kmart...where we got almost everything!

Anyway, we went to Cunningham lake outside of Omaha (well, it was outside of Omaha back then) after stopping at a little hole-in-the-wall bait shop to pick up some crawlers. We made our way to the shore and dad and I set up our chairs in the shadow of grandpa’s mighty fishing chair. I was so excited at the prospect of catching a fish that I could hardly contain myself. I know the bite was slow because I must have been rambling on and on as a young boy on his first expedition would. It was at that point that my lesson in acoustics came.Tin Cans

Dad started to explain to me how you can use two tin cans and a piece of string to talk to someone over a distance, because the string carries the sound. Then he explained to me how fishing line also carried sound right down into the water, where the fish were, and that those fish could hear all the noise I was making. I was amazed that my talking was the reason we were not catching anything! Needless to say, the next hour was probably the quietest that I had been in my existence to that point! Oddly enough, we still didn’t catch any fish, if memory serves. Interesting. 

Regardless of the bounty (or lack thereof) I took a lot away from that day… I just didn’t know it at the time. My father showed me that it was possible to keep a kid’s attention and keep them having fun, even when you wanted nothing more than to yell out, “for the love of all things holy, would you shut up for five minutes?!” 

Thanks, dad… it’s a technique I still try to use myself with my kids.

I remember noticing that even though nobody was talking much and we still were not catching fish, I was perfectly content. It felt like we were the only people anywhere. Without the normal chatter, there was nothing but the sound of the water lapping at the muddy shore, the trees rustling in the wind and one of the most interesting sounds I’d ever heard… a Bobwhite Quail doing its thing. It was then I understood the serenity, solitude and passion that is fishing (even if I don’t catch a thing).

I guess some of life’s lessons can remain hidden until you need them. I don’t remember too many days better (or more valuable) than that one.


Saturday, September 22 is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Teach someone the art and possibly many other lessons.

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