The inspiration for this post comes from my buddy Jimmy Fee. Over the weekend, he was working one of the big outdoor shows in Jersey, and managed to sneak away from his booth long enough to get in on the hot trout action at the mobile pond. He texted me the three photos below. In frame one at left, we see Jim hooked in the back of the neck by the young Norman MacLean next to him. In the middle, we have Jim power swinging on a fish. In the text accompanying that photo he wrote, “Jimbo getting tight. ‘Out of my way, kid.'” In the final frame, we see Jim sharing a trophy shot with his new pal. Kudos for teaching the lad the rod-in-mouth photo technique, though given that 4,582 people held that rod and it’s flu season, I’d have advised against that. Anyway, the whole communication got me thinking about these mobile trout tanks, and some of the nonsense I’ve seen happen around their carpeted shorelines.
Ever since I was a little kid, my dad and I would go to the expo in Fort Washington just outside of Philly. Tell you the truth, I don’t recall ever being that interested in fishing the mobile trout tank. I’ve actually never done it. That’s partially because dad made it clear early on that he refused to pay $10 for me to stand in a circle for 10 minutes and catch sickly little trout out of an above ground pool. But I’m not knocking the mobile pond. It’s a ton of fun for kids, and while I may never have fished one, I’ve spent a good amount of time observing them. It’s usually that point in the show day when you just feel the need to eat a cold eleven-dollar hot dog, so as you munch, you watch the anglers. It’s not the kids I get a kick out of, it’s the dads. Twice in my life, I’ve seen grown men nearly come to blows at the trout pond.
While one angling session is wrapping up, you see dads scouting the perimeter. As if it were opening day on the river, come hell or high water, dad is going to get little Johnny in a position that gets his sparse jig bouncing off the nose of the breeder. A nose, mind you, that has been bounced a billion times already without the fish flinching. The velvet rope opens the pond to the next set of hopefuls, and it is a mad dash. Little Johnny is getting dragged. Dad grumbles that if he just had a few red mealies instead of the supplied jig, he’d own this. When there are ten fresh minutes on the clock, everyone is low key for the first half. Plenty of time, after all. But when the clock starts running out and little Johnny has yet to connect, anything goes. The following is a paraphrased version of an actual exchange I heard in this scenario, fueled perhaps by a few overpriced beers and a buzz from all that free chewing tobacco they give out:
Dad 1: “Hey buddy, tell your kid to keep his line straight out in front of him.”
Dad 2: “My kid wants to try to catch the big one.”
Dad 1: “Then you should have gotten a better spot.”
Dad 2: “If you’re kid wasn’t tangled half the time, he might have caught it.”
Dad 1: “We got two already, I haven’t seen you catch anything.”
Dad 2: “Shut your mouth and let the kids fish.”
Dad 1: “I’ll shut your (expletive deleted) mouth for you.”
Dad 2: “Meet me by the Sham-Wow booth in 10 minutes and we’ll see.”
I’ll admit I made up the last line, but these days there is a rule that states you can’t have an outdoor expo without a Sham-Wow booth, and that sounds like a neat place to fight. Blood clean-up would be a snap. Any expo center trout pond stories to share?