There’s a gravitational pull between boys and dirt.
It’s impossible to keep the two apart, as we found out Saturday during a fishing expedition to Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park Recreation Area near Pollock Pines.
We set out from Sacramento at about sunrise, two dads and two boys packed into a minivan for the hour-long drive up Highway 50 to the foothills.
Anticipation built up for days in advance of the trip. This was, after all, the first real fishing attempt for 6-year-old A.
On Monday, we went out and got a fishing pole for A. We picked out pink and yellow PowerBait and some salmon eggs. On Wednesday, we put a bobber on the end of the line and practiced casting on the grass in the back yard. I spend a good amount of time untangling the bobber from a nearby tree after errant casts, but A. showed a lot of natural talent. On Friday, we got a couple cups of night crawlers. We were all set for the big day.
We got up a little after 5 a.m. Saturday, met up with our fishing buddies and rolled into Sly Park at about 8 a.m., ready to find fish after fueling up on pancakes in Placerville.
We quickly found a spot at the north end of the lake, along a stretch of shore near where a little creek enters the lake. The scent of pine filled the air, and the nearby trees cast long shadows over the little cove where we sat. This place showed promise.
A. was eager to cast, and flicked a line with a bobber about 50 feet off shore.
It was now time to add a leader, hook and a little bait.
But in the time it took me to rig up his line, the call of the dirt and the water already had a grip on A. and his 7-year-old friend, T.
A. told me to cast for him, and to let him know when a fish grabbed the bait.
He and T. had exploring to do, and they were off with nets looking for critters to catch. They laughed and splashed and threw rocks into the lake. Both were as happy as any kids I’ve ever seen.
This was fine with me. The dads just kept on fishing.
The boys were soon both soaked up to their necks from exploring the lake. Their wet clothes were a magnet for dirt, and both kids looked like grizzled mountain men returning from a six-month trek through the forest.
Each was covered with a crust of dust. Maybe this was how the boys from the caveman times did it, protecting themselves from mosquitoes with a layer of crud.
A. later looked at himself and declared he was “half person, half dirt monster.”
We got skunked by the fish, but the boys didn’t care. We drove east to a spot on the lake near Hazel Creek Camp for lunch and more looking around.
That’s where A. caught his first fish, a little 2-inch thing near the shore. With is bare hands, no less.
He and T. both checked it out and set it free.
Maybe next time it will be all grown up and A. will reel it in on his own.