Some of my experiences involving fishing and farming activities with the opposite sex have been, ahem, good for my character development.
Many people probably aren’t aware that two-fifths of the world’s farmers are female. While only about 15 percent of the primary farm operators in the United States are women, in many Third World countries women feed their populations.
Like many farm boys who were involved in 4-H, I lost my share of first-place finishes to girls in the cattle show ring. And a cute girl always seemed to win the Showmanship contests.
I also hate to admit that when females accompanied me fishing, they out-fished me. The first occasion when a girl accompanied us guys on a fishing excursion occurred in Utah when my roommate, Bob, and I went fishing with Kathy.
I knew Kathy from my earlier University of Colorado days when she and I took undergraduate psychology courses and played guitar together. We became friends, but we were never romantically linked.
Kathy and I continued to keep in touch while she went to Alaska to teach special education students and I pursued my graduate education in clinical psychology at the University of Utah. She came back to the lower 48 states for a June fishing trip on the Duchesne River in eastern Utah with Bob and me.
I had already met Marilyn, who would later become my wife. I wasn’t interested in Kathy as a marriage prospect – but Bob was. Kathy, Bob and I set out to explore the Duchesne River where it flowed south out of the Uinta Mountains in eastern Utah. Marilyn couldn’t join us, for she had to work.
We took our tents and established a campsite on a flat stretch of national forest land alongside the river. We were in search of big trout.
Bob and I hiked up the Duchesne River to find likely spots where husky brown and rainbow trout might lurk. Kathy said she preferred to stay in the sagebrush-covered flatland along the stream. She wanted to read a novel while she drifted garden worms on a fishhook in the river.
I followed the river upstream and crawled on precipitously-poised rocks as I dropped my hand-tied artificial flies into roiling waters that crashed over boulders. I caught a 14-inch brown trout. Bob stayed farther below in calmer waters and hooked three 12-inch rainbow trout.
As the sun was descending over the western slopes, Bob and I hiked back to our campsite. Kathy sat where we had left her, still reading a novel while her fishing line with a worm on the hook dangled in the water of the Duchesne River some 60 feet downstream.
“Did you catch anything?” Bob ventured, hoping to show off his fish.
Kathy hauled in a stringer of six hefty trout, the smallest of which was 14 inches long. (Bob didn’t catch Kathy either, but he eventually ended up with a wonderful wife.)
My most recent occasion fishing with women occurred last summer. In celebration of our 40th wedding anniversary, our son and daughter-in-law invited Marilyn and me to Canada, along with her parents, for a fly-in fishing trip.
We guys had convinced our mates this was an opportunity to explore the Canadian wilderness while staying with accomplished fishermen, cooks and all-around outdoorsmen.
We flew out of Kenora to a remote lake in northwestern Ontario on a Sunday morning in early August. We arrived at a clean three-bedroom cabin on a pristine lake, where we were the only inhabitants within a five-mile radius.
While our mechanically inclined son got the boat motors revved up, the rest of us unpacked our food and gear into the comfortable cabin. Within an hour we were “on the water” searching for walleyes and pike.
I can say with complete honesty that we ate walleyes every meal for the next six days. On the first day, Marilyn caught a 25-inch walleye, the second fish of her life. This energized the men to show our “better halves” who the “better fishers” were.
Didn’t happen! At the end of the trip, our daughter-in-law, who had only fished once previously, landed the most walleyes, while Marilyn claimed the biggest. We men consoled ourselves in showing our brides we can be sensitive, decent human beings – and also good cooks while on a fishing trip. We cleaned and cooked all the fish and most of the meals.
The husbands kept the motorboats in tip-top running condition. We emptied the garbage; we scrubbed the cabin counters and floors for the next group of fishers. We didn’t drink too much or eat beans. We took the ladies on lazy evening boat rides to locate the prettiest sunset views.
I wonder if the ladies will accompany us on a fishing trip this summer.
Michael R. Rosmann, Ph.D. serves on the adjunct faculty of the University of Iowa, lectures across the United States and abroad and owns a row crop farm in Harlan, Iowa. He is also a founding partner of the nonprofit network AgriWellness, Inc.
Send your thoughts and questions to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org – previously published columns are available for a small fee 30 days after they were originally printed, at www.ag behavioralhealth.com