A Fish Tale That’s Out of This World

photo credit: jing.dong via photopin cc
photo credit: jing.dong via photopin cc

So, I have a fish tale to tell.

It’s about a fish we didn’t catch. But it was out of this world. A sign posted at the end of our crickety fishing pier in an alcove of Lake Wylie featured the image of a largemouth bass, the likes of which trolled deeper waters that we’d angle in.

We cast lines amid schools of bluegill and green sunfish and an occasional striped bass in the shallow waters before us.

The sign warned of mercury levels found in the larger bass found in the lake.

“What’s the sign say, daddy?” Grace asked.

Somewhere, as the dragonflies flitted and the lake waters beckoned and an 8-year-old’s attention turned to fish that begged to be hooked, my explanation took on the tone of Charlie Brown’s teacher and muddled into nonsense.

largemouth“Largemouth bass … wah wah wah … mercury … wah wah wah … dangerous.”

Wah wah wah.

All three girls reeled in sunfish of all sizes and colors. I even nabbed a small striper. It was a good day on a dilapidated pier. The worms and the fish didn’t stand a chance.

Days later, Grace was the one caught, hook, line, and sinker.

“Dad, Mikaela didn’t believe me about the largemouth bass!”

What’s not to believe? Some fish species contain high enough mercury levels in their blood that they’re toxic for people to eat very often. Pregnant women and children should avoid them all together. Grown-ups shouldn’t eat it more than once a week in most cases.

Water pollution is to blame, and the longer a fish is in the lake, and the higher he is on the food chain, the more mercury he’s likely to contain.

How does a rising third-grader deliver those facts, and make it compelling?

“I told her they found bass on Mercury,” my littlest accidental ichthyologist/astronomer said, “and she didn’t believe me!”

I explained that a bass on Mercury would be already broiled, grilled and fried before he could even get a start. The story about old big fish becoming toxic in an old big lake was far less compelling.

“Ohhhhhhh,” she said.

I liked your story better, Grace.

*After a short period of embarrassment, Grace gave me express written consent to tell her fish tale on my blog.

quote fishing buchan


  1. Krystal says:

    Yeah, I like Grace’s story better too – how children interpret what we say…too funny.

    1. It’s a far better headline, I say. I’m glad she didn’t listen to me, in this case!

  2. This is so cute!
    You got me laughing. Grace is adorable and beyond awesome!
    I’m glad my Dad isn’t the only one who takes his girls fishing and on occasion talks like the adults in “Peanuts”.

    1. I’m glad she gave me permission to write it – I always ask, especially when there’s potential for embarrassment.

      I’m a pretty big fan of hers, and I’m glad she’s my kid, because if she wasn’t, it’d be kind of awkward.

      We’ll be fishing in a week and a day, actually … we’ll catch one in your honor!

      1. Thanks, wish Brooke and I were going with you all!

  3. Ilene Evans says:

    I can’t wait for NASA to report that they’ve discovered water life on Mercury and for Grace to be proven correct in her assessment. There are some theories about frozen water up there, so perhaps ice fishing is an actual possibility.

    And the Charlie brown teacher talk? I think they should make that the official language of parenting.

    1. It’s destiny, isn’t it? If her sister can invent the iPhone, Grace can predict life on Mercury.

      Charlie Brown teacher talk IS the official language of parents all over the world.

  4. Very cute. One must be careful how little ears interpret big words. 🙂

    1. It’s cute, because it doesn’t involve the F word.

      1. Wait a minute! “Fish” is an “F” word. 🙂

      2. And a four-letter one, at that.

  5. laurie27wsmith says:

    Priceless, that Grace is a hoot. Bass on Mars, don’t you love the way kids turn things around? Now you can tell her Bass are from Mars and Sunfish are from Venus.

    1. She’s a space cadet. It’s better than her going to school and repeating all my political views, I suppose, although all those are right, of course. She’ll learn soon enough her father (and future boyfriends) all hail from Mars, if she hasn’t already figured it out.

  6. Tamara says:

    “It was a good day on a dilapidated pier.” That may be my new motto!
    I think I remember being confused about “mercury” and “Mercury.” Like the old thermometers that had those liquidy balls of mercury. I thought they must be from the planet Mercury. They were creepy! You know what’s even creepier? How they take temperatures these days. (it happened to us today) A weird scan across the forehead. The future is now!

    I’m totally off-topic. Your fish tale is magnificent!

    1. Get in line – that’s the motto of my life! I’ll take a good day on a dilapidated peer any day of the week.

      Our aquarium thermometer has mercury in it. I like that old school stuff rather than the mood-ring looking stuff they have now. I could have sworn I saw what you are talking about, on Star Trek. Not that I ever watched.Star.Trek.

      Glad you liked the tale – it kind of made me hungry.

  7. anotherjennifer says:

    That’s adorable. And I think I like Grace’s story better. Scientists find bass on Mercury. Story at 11!

    1. I’m just glad she consented to it going out to the interwebs, after all. Mercury bass would rock, because it’d come precooked.

      I’m going to check out Mercury through my binoculars, just in case.

  8. Tracie says:

    Grace’s story was definitely better. I clicked the link – and I loved the football story, too.

  9. I want Grace on my writing team! Perhaps she can consult as I’m writing and making up stories about stuff for my own kids! Great story!!

    1. She’d love to be part of it! She has an active imagination, like I hope mine still is. Glad you liked the story!

  10. Rorybore says:

    I had a great comment all done. a fantastic story about my middle daughter, nursing the baby in the midst of an earthquake…..and earwigs. it was great, but I think the internet ate my comment. nasty web.
    let this now be considered: “the big comment that got away.”

  11. {Melinda} Grace clearly has a flare for the dramatic … perhaps a budding writer like her daddy?? 🙂

    1. Haha … I hope so. She said she wants to make her own web page, called “It’s sports.” She sketched out the home page and everything … so stay tuned!

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