There comes the day for every person when they realize that the food on their plate is not some magical meat that the grocery store poofed into existence, but really comes from an animal.
For Billy, that lesson came with fishing.
It was a drizzly morning, but Billy wanted to try his hand at fishing again. We were playing hookie from work and school (with permission, of course). I went out and collected some grass shrimp for bait for us to fish from the dock and brought out Billy's rod and a rod for myself.
It was quickly apparent that the rod I had borrowed was the wrong rig, so I put it away and just used Billy's little 2ft Mickey Mouse fishing pole. I baited the hook for him and tossed it into the water.
After only a few minutes a baby rockfish jumped on the hook. I put it in a bucket for Billy to look at and dropped the line back into the water with more bait. Just as it hit bottom another bite! I reeled in a spot this time. Two small fish for Billy's bucket.
He was getting bored before, but having realized we were on the fish, he wanted to keep fishing. And a minute later we had another bite! But that one jumped the line once we pulled it out of the water. Oh well.
Back into the water for the line and after a short wait the line gave a good tug. That poor little rod bent over from the weight. I reeled in a nice looking perch. And a big one (to Billy).
It was too big for the bucket (it was a small bucket) but he wanted to go show Grandma. And he was really excited to eat the fish. So, we took the bucket with the two small fish and the net with the big fish up to the house to show grandma.
We released the two small fish back into the river.
The big fish, though, we were going to eat. So I took it down to the dock to clean it and Billy waited in the house.
Here's the fish:
Inside, Billy was telling Grandma how he was going to take the fish to school today to show all of his friends. Had I known this at the time, I probably would have spared the fish and let Billy release him off of the dock, because the only way this fish was going to school was in a lunch bag.
In the farm house in the living room is a very large mounted sail fish. Once it was the world record. It's big, and it's mounted to the wall. I think Billy thought that he was going to get a mounted fish like "Sebastian" from this little perch. No such luck, kid.
When I came back into the house with the filet it was not what he was expecting. But, he was interested in seeing me cook it. So I tossed it in the frying pan with a little breading.
He wanted to watch it frizzle and was still very excited by the process. But then I put it on a plate. His expression says it all:
The "idea" of eating the fish was great until he sat down and was expected to actually EAT the fish. He picked up one bite, licked it, and declared that he no longer liked to eat fish. He formerly liked fish sticks, tunafish and other forms of fish. But never before had the fish just been swimming and flopping around before his eyes.
It's not an easy lesson to learn, from sea to hook to pan to plate. I think maybe next time we'll just toss 'em back, at least for awhile. Now he wants to try crabbing... Oh, Lord.