If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one could potentially save me a lot of time, because this is all that happened Sunday when I went sturgeon fishing with Boyfriend, his sister Suzanne from New Jersey and two total strangers from Ohio, Edie and her son Ethan.
For 10-year-old Ethan, who's accustomed to actually catching fish, the day appeared to be agonizingly empty.
The captain - Diana Canevaro of Fish Hookers Sport Fishing - baited the enormous hooks with all the disgusting delights a sturgeon could ever desire, and she did all the casting too. Our job was just to watch the tips of the rods for the telltale gentle tug of the dinosaur-like fish we were hunting.
The water in the delta had warmed up after a couple weeks of nice warm sunshine, so the fishing was supposed to be good. But it was dismal. As we listened to the fishermen's radio traffic, we heard one young guide with anger management issues tell the story of another boat squatting on "his spot" far more times than we heard anyone talk about actually catching any fish.
Poor Ethan kept walking up to the gently bobbing rods, picking them up to see if there was perhaps some weight on the lines that no one had noticed, setting them back down quietly. He didn't look bored; he looked frustrated.
But I was not troubled by this state of affairs.
First, I knew sturgeon fishing could be tough. When Boyfriend once told my boss that he caught a sturgeon on his very first sturgeon fishing trip, Boss - a hardcore fisherman - was irritated as hell. He's been trying for ages and still hasn't caught one.
Second - and this is the important one - I was out on the water, 90 miles from school work that needed to be graded, watching ducks zoom across the water all around our boat, soaking up the sunshine, and napping from time to time.
I love duck hunting. I really do. I can't wait until October, when the next season begins. I'm already making plans.
But duck hunting is a lot of work: placing decoys just right, hiding, calling, straining your eyes and ears, shivering, shooting and chasing - and all the better if it takes place in a wet and windy storm.
Fishing, on the other hand, involves sunshine and beer and the gentle rocking of a boat.
To everything there is a season, and I am glad that my season for fishing has begun - even if I come home with nothing more than photos.
© Holly A. Heyser 2008