My Dad and I spent a lot of time fishing along streams and in his motorized dinghy. The boat's name was 8/7 for reasons that I never really understood but it meant something important to Dad. 8/7 was 10 feet long and powered by a 3 horse power 2 stroke outboard. It sat the two of us comfortably but could accommodate two adults and two kids as long as no-one moved around too much. It was unsinkable.
My maternal grandfather, we called him Pop, was not a fisherman. He loved the outdoors but more in a passing-through-it sort of way than as a place to catch his next meal. According to Mom he started with the usual amount of disdain for his son-in-law but had become fond of him over the years after my parents married. Dad never forgot the original attitude and was a little suspicious that it remained, even as my sister and I grew old enough to understand that adults didn't always get along.
Some-one came up with the idea that Pop should go fishing with Dad, my sister and I. Any four people casting from that boat would have been a disaster so we got under way and each laid out a line to troll for Trout. Well three of us did. Pop couldn't work the reel properly so Dad laid out his line then passed it to him as he sat in the bow of the boat. With Dad steering from the stern seat, my sister and I in the middle and Pop in the bow we cruised around the lake on a beautiful sunny morning.
Trolling is very fickle. The fish don't care who is holding the rod and chose which one of many to bite based on factors only they understand. I had four nice ones in the boat while no-one else had caught any. Pop was doing his best to entertain both himself and us. Dad was getting a little stressed trying to ensure everyone was safe, comfortable and at least not grumpy. The general lack of success led him to change baits fairly often, a process made more complicated by the need to pass Pop's rod to the stern and then back to the bow, all while steering and keeping his own rod in the boat and out of anyone else's way. His task was even more complicated by the many times we hooked bottom, forcing him to bring 8/7 about and all of us to reel in while he recovered the trapped hook. I was unaware of just how anxious he had become.
Suddenly the quiet pleasance of our cruise was shattered by Pop's rod being nearly torn out of his hands. The idea that he had hooked bottom again was quickly dispelled as the rod bounced and shook from a vicious series of head shakes. He had a big one on the line. A big fish on means the motor is turned off and all others reel in to avoid fouling the lines as it is reeled in. While the three of us did that Pop fumbled with his reel and tried to keep his rod from going overboard but made no progress toward landing the fish. We all scanned the water hoping to see this monster. We didn't have to wait long. An explosion of silver scales and white foam revealed an Atlantic Salmon as it leapt clear of the surface. It was huge. Dad hollered out that it was a Salmon and started barking instructions at Pop on how to work the reel. Pop, who was partially deaf, either couldn't hear him clearly or just didn't understand what he was saying. Again the Salmon leapt, this time closer to the boat with the now slackened line swinging around as the fish attempted to shake off the hook. We could see the spinner hanging precariously from its mouth. The hook was set, but not very deeply. Dad practically climbed over us two kids as he insisted that Pop hand him the rod. The boat was rocking wildly by this time making the passage of the rod even trickier. Finally Dad gets a firm grip on it and regains his seat. He was desperately trying to take up the slack when the Salmon breached a third time, closer and higher than ever. It seemed to hang in the air a bit longer than the previous jumps and with a gentle flexing of its lips it expelled the hook. The spinner flashed in the sun as it fell away from the now lost trophy. Our prize slipped beneath the water and was gone. The sound of the splash had barely dissipated when Pop yelled back to Dad "You lost my fish!"
Some say silence is golden, others a virtue. Dad's silence was ominous. He looked at Pop in a way that my sister and I immediately understood as NOT GOOD. Pop had a sly smile since he had not yet realized the depth of the tragedy that had just occurred. I distinctly remember reassuring myself that Pop was a great swimmer. My sister laughed first and that made me laugh. Pop joined in and Dad just sat there, not laughing but at least calming down enough to eventually just shake his head and begin re-baiting the hook. Once the three of us had stopped laughing he made sure everyone was ready, we reset the lines and fished our way back to the dock in silence. Pop had his one and only "one that got away" story with someone else to blame it on just to make it more fun to tell. My sister and I had a great story about breaking tension and my Dad? Well he never brought it up again and when anyone else did he would just sort of snort and then smile. Pop never fished again, claiming he had already hooked the biggest one out there so there was no point.