By Outdoor Afro Leader Zoë Polk
When the alarm went off at 6:00 am on Saturday, I was tempted to hit the snooze button. But then I remembered that I was going fishing that morning, and a familiar feeling took hold. I arose from my bed, checked the weather report, made my lunch and packed up my fishing gear. It was natural routine and one that I had repeatedly observed my Dad do throughout my childhood.
I grew up in southeastern Virginia and developed a love for the outdoors on the Chesapeake Bay. I have fond memories of my two sisters and I catching flounder with our Snoopy push button fishing rods. Although I don’t get to fish as often as I did when I was child, it’s still one of my favorite things to do with my family. Thus, I was so excited to join my Bay Area Outdoor Afro family on an adventure to Lake Chabot for Free Fishing Day.
When we gathered on the dock, I discovered that like me, many Outdoor Afros had learned a love of fishing from their parents. We at Outdoor Afro celebrate these stories because they validate our love for re-connecting black people to nature. And as evidenced by the conversations we had on Saturday, many of our relationships with the outdoors were passed down through fishing.
Sarita talked about fishing with her parents and using bamboo polls. Linda shared her techniques for cleaning fish and how to take care so that flying fish scales don’t surprise you. Moreover, we were delighted to be joined by Tip and his children.
All of them excitedly recalled previous family fishing adventures and looked forward to trying their luck at Lake Chabot.
As everyone set off to stake their spot, strangers became close friends, teachers and students. We laughed and cheered each other on as Outdoor Afros plucked up squirmy night crawlers and baited their first hooks. We all stood back as folks learned how to cast their rods. And we all enthusiastically encouraged one another, when a rod tip bent or a bobber briefly submerged.
The joy and comradery between Outdoor Afro’s made for wonderful experience. At lunch time, we collectively gathered to share our fishing reports. And as with any fun fishing adventure, each of us came back with memorable stories to share. For example, Kristin, perhaps out of eagerness to catch her lunch, instead hooked her own lunch bag!
And Sarita wowed us all with her stories of the “boatload of fish” that she tossed back. When we asked her how big the fish were, she, as many a seasoned fisherperson has done in the past, stretched her hands to her wingspan and exclaimed “This big!”
As we smirked at this “tall tale,” we also basked in all of the joys of the day. And we remembered that, as many of our parents taught us, a good day of fishing is any day of fishing.
Who taught YOU how to fish? Share with Outdoor Afro your favorite fishing tales or photos of your favorite fishing tails!