Archive for February, 2011

Why Do Fish Jump?

Bang! The boat jerked. The motor stopped. “What was that?” asked Kurt.

“I’m not sure,” Dad said, looking over the stern of the old green fishing boat. “But I think we’ve got a problem. A big problem.”

“What is it?”

Dad pulled up the outboard motor. “Well, look at that. We must have hit a boulder and it bent the prop. There’s no fixin’ it until we get home. We’ll have to buy a new one.”

Kurt couldn’t hide his feelings. He felt afraid and disappointed all at the same time.

“It’s no big deal,” Dad said. “That’s why we have two motors on the boat.”

“But now we only have one.”

“Yeah, that’s true.” Dad let down the little motor. “Let’s see how it works.” With one pull on the cord, the motor started and the two were chugging down the river again.

Dad baited the lines and gave one rod to his son.

Kurt loved going fishing. He and his dad got up while it was still dark and by the time they got to the river, the sun was coming up over the mountain. The pines stood tall and majestic. A gentle breeze brought a woodsy aroma and the current pushed the dark blue water quickly down the river.

“I love this place,” said Kurt. “Ain’t nothin’ better.”

“I’ll agree with you one hundred percent.”

“It’s like God made it just for us—our secret hideaway.”

Dad smiled. “Who’s going to catch the first fish?”

“It doesn’t matter to me; just as long as we catch some.”

A fish jumped in front of the boat. Another jumped just to the right side of the boat.

“Wow! Dad did you see that?”

“See what?”

“Fish are jumping everywhere. Look! Another one jumped over there!”

After an hour of trolling up and down the river, neither Kurt nor Dad got a nibble on their lines. “Gee, Dad. I thought we’d catch a lot of fish.”

“Why? Because they were jumping?”

 “Well, yeah.”

 Kurt’s rod bolted and his reel screamed. “Dad! Look!”

“Gee whiz, Kurt! You got a big one!”

 “I hope so.”

Dad turned off the motor and moved next to his son, ready to keep him steady with the rocking of the boat. “Take it nice and slow. Keep your rod tip up and reel that baby in.”

Kurt reeled and reeled. “It’s a big one!”

“Keep reeling. Keep your rod tip up.”

By the tug on his rod, Kurt imagined a five-pound trout on his line. Within a few minutes, he saw it coming in on the top of the water. “Dad, it’s just a stick.”

“It’s a pretty big stick,” Dad said. “These things happen to the best of fishermen.”

Soon the two were trolling down the river again.

“So, Dad, why do you think fish jump?”

“That’s a question anglers have been asking for a long time,” Dad said. “Some say that the female salmon jump to get ready to spawn.”

“Doesn’t that have something to do with the fresh water flowing on top of the ocean water?”

“Yeah, and the females come up the rivers and jump to the top to find their native water,” Kurt said.

 “That’s pretty incredible!”

 “Yeah, but it still doesn’t explain why boy fish jump.”

 “Well, some guys think fish jump to shake sea lice off their bellies. I’ve seen them jump when flies hover over the water’s surface.”

 “It sounds like fish jump for lots of reasons.”

 “I think you’re right, Kurt. We walk and run and jump for lots of reasons too.”

“Do you think fish could jump because it’s fun?”

“It’s quite possible. I think fish like to feel the same zest you feel when you run a race or play baseball. That’s why they swim as fast as they can to raise themselves out of the water.”

“You know, Dad. I love to see fish jump whether they are shaking themselves, spawning, feeding on flies or just having fun.”

“Me too. I think we should all have more fun.”

Just then the second motor sputtered and stopped. Kurt peered over the side of the boat. It couldn’t be another rock. “What is it, Dad?”

Dad shook his head. “I’m afraid our fun is over for the day.”

“What’s wrong this time?”

“Well, this little motor is out of gas. Sorry, Kurt.”

“It’s okay, Dad. I love this place and being here with you—just the two of us. Watching fish jump. I can’t wait to show Mom our catch of the day.”

Dad chuckled pulling up the little motor. Then he gave a paddle to Kurt and the two paddled the boat back to the dock.