In the last few weeks of summer, my family and I rediscovered a love for fishing. I say “rediscovered” because my husband, Mike claims that we used to go fishing all the time when we dated. I remember one of those occasions. He fished and I kicked rocks.
Our daughter, Maryn — age 6 — has been asking us to take her fishing for weeks. She watched Finding Nemo as many times as it aired on the Disney Channel, which sparked an interest in the sport. Mike agreed and drove her to Dick’s Sporting Goods to find a starter kit suitable for girls. A pink rod and reel for the little lady.
The four of us then headed to Coonskin to give our new pastime a try. Casting proved to be difficult for Maryn, who tangled her father in fishing line. The man resembled a bug trapped in a spider’s web. She caught a stick and some pond grass, but nothing with gills or a fin. Maryn sat on the water’s edge for about 20 minutes until she needed to “get up and walk around a while.” It doesn’t take a genius to predict that she never picked up her pole again.
However, I had a grand time. And if I may brag on myself — I’m the only one who caught a fish that day. A bluegill! Mike threw down his pole and came to the fish’s rescue, which had fallen off the line and onto the blacktopped walking trail. When he reached down to pick up Mr. Bluegill, the fished flopped in the air, scattering adults and children. Mike then proceeded to kick the fish back in the pond.
Since then, we have tried our luck at Kanawha State Forest (no luck) and Ridenour Lake in Nitro (no luck there, either, unless snapping turtles count). After two failed attempts, Mike decided that we needed better equipment. Aha! Now this is something I can do with expert precision. I may not know much about fishing, but I know how to buy rods and … stuff.
So off to Cabella’s I went in search of professional tools. The REEL thing! As soon as I walked into outfitter’s paradise, I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the place. A greeter welcomed me to the store, and standing by a large Grizzly bear, he handed me a coupon for various items.
“Welcome! Is this your first time visiting with us?”
I smiled. “Yes, but I’m more of an Orvis girl.”
Right. The only thing I ever ordered from Orvis was a plaid pillow for my Golden Retriever to sleep on. And she ate it.
I stumbled into the fishing department, a store within a store, where I began looking at the different poles. There must have been hundreds on the wall, in boxes and on racks. Prices ranged from $19.99 to too much to mention. A sales associate — let’s call him “Bob” — walked over and asked if he could help me.
“I doubt it,” I said nervously.
He asked what I was searching for, to which I replied, “I need a better fishing pole to take out with my kids. Nothing major — just weekend stuff around here.”
Are you catching trout? He wondered. “I’m not catching anything,” I told him.
“Come with me,” Bob said, walking over to a rounder of poles in pink, orange and my personal favorite – blue and gold.
“This is what you need,” he said, handing one to me. I turned the pole this way and that way, shaking it slightly for feel. “But, it lights up.”
Clearly, I was out of my league. I wanted Mike to help me select the perfect piece of equipment, so I texted him for advice.
You need The Ugly Stick, he wrote.
I BEG YOUR PARDON!
As I wandered around other departments — hunting, shooting, boating, camping — I found myself in more familiar territory: HOME AND CABIN. Yes, moms and dads, I found everything a family needs to pretend to enjoy the great outdoors:
1) Food: Emergency Kit
In the event of another land hurricane, your family’s survival may depend on access to a simple, dependable food source! Meals are packaged in individual airtight pouches that are easy to prepare – just add hot water and enjoy a “delicious” and nutritional entree. Shelf life of 25 years gives you added peace of mind for storms to come! The grab-n-go buckets include 240 servings for one month of two servings per day for four adults, or two adults and four children. $479.99
2) Houseware: Browning® Buckmark Crib Sets
Surround your little bundle of joy with the comforts of an outdoor-themed nursery. In the earthy yet feminine colors of brown and pink, the crib sheet set also matches a dust ruffle, bumper pad and diaper stacker. From $24.99 to $69.99
3) Entertainment: Spring Swings Backyard Zip Line
Why travel all the way to the New River Gorge when you can install your own zip line? The 70-ft. Fun Ride Deluxe accommodates kids more than 8 years old and adults less than 225 lbs. Oh, and don’t forget the helmets! From $59.99 to $159.99
4) Fashion: Gun Tote’n Mamas™ Concealed-Carry Basic Hobo Handbag/Mace® Pepper-Spray Gun Combo
Forget Tory Burch. This popular concealed-carry handbag contains a non-lethal pepper-spray gun that takes out attackers up to 25 ft. away. Gun includes 28-gram OC cartridge that contains up to seven 25-ft. blasts. Trigger-activated LED allows better aim at night and will temporarily disorient an assailant. The gun comes loaded with a water-test cartridge for practice. The Basic Hobo bag fits compact semi-automatics and small revolvers. $99.99
5) Pets: Denhaus Townhaus Indoor Crate
This may be the only piece of furniture that doubles as a cozy crate for your dog. Ideal as a side table in a den or as a nightstand in the bedroom, its mahogany color will fit most any room’s décor. The uniquely designed door features a removable grate, so your dog can freely come and go…and if he does ‘go’, pick up a pack of Puddle Pads. $399.99 – $499.99.
The long journey through Cabella’s made me dizzy. After leaving the pet department, I noticed a little restaurant – a wild game café – but it, too, offered so many choices that I struggled to make a decision. A bison burger or elk on wheat? After holding up a line of hungry hunters, I desperately grabbed a box of chocolate fudge. The clerk scanned the bar code. It was $29.99. Holy mackerel — The Ugly Stick was cheaper.
If I ever get the courage to go back, I’ll take a guide with me. But we’re starting in the Bargain Cave.