2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Special Recognition – Senior Category – Maine (Grades 9–12)
Eliza Lowell, Shapleigh, Age 14 Grade 9, Massabesic High School
When you’re a child, almost nothing feels like a day out in the North Maine Woods with your family.
I was seven years old the first time I went brook fishing, and I still remember the day vividly. I was equipped with an orange vest and a bright orange fishing pole. To me, an orange pole was so neat; I had the brightest one among the trio walking along the brook. The trio consisted of me, my father, and my grandfather.
Everyone was expecting to have a fun day fishing. At the time, “brookies” seemed so neat. My dad talked about them a lot; I was ready to catch my own.
Before this date, I’d been only a few times. Rather than being on a fast-running, thin body of water, it had been deep lake fishing. To a child, that was boring. I grew up without an ounce of patience. Now it was a matter of waiting far less. You weren’t in a boat, and you got to walk along all of the rocks and dip your toes into the bubbling brook.
I remember being so bothered every time the quick flow of the water stole the bait off the hook.
“Why can’t we catch anything yet?” I asked.
“Because they aren’t biting yet, Hun,” my grandfather replied.
So I kept casting the line in and out of the water. We tried a few different spots, and my family members had each managed to get a small brook trout. Me? Nothing. Just a few bites, but the fish hadn’t stayed on.
I think I was starting to get bothered and was rushing just a bit too much. It was at this time I realized I’d messed up. Instead of a fish, I managed to catch myself with a fishing hook! It was just barely in the skin on my leg. Thankfully, I ended up fine; I was just shaken up. It made me more determined to try just a bit harder.
“Can we move again?”
“You’re being impatient,” came the reply. “Just wait.” My poor family was forced to put up with my antics.
And so I did. I waited.
Was it worth it? Yes!
This brookie was just waiting for me to snatch it up in a thalweg. Everything was slightly calmer there, and a little waterfall was pooling into it. The trout had grabbed my hook.
“Oh my! Dad! Grandpa! There’s a fish!”
Even with all the strength my seven-year-old body had, there wasn’t enough to get this fish up out of the water. My dad and grandfather grabbed onto me to help pull the fish in. When I couldn’t get it with the help, my grandfather stepped in and reeled the fish in.
In my brain, however, it had been my work. “Wow! Look what I did!”
It was the biggest fish among the group.
“Great job, Eliza!” they said.
With an immense amount of pride, I put the fish into my vest pocket.
That night, I realized I didn’t enjoy eating brook trout.