Submitted by guest blogger Julianna Carattini
Give a girl a fish and you will feed her for a day. Teach a girl to fish and you will give her memories that last a lifetime. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and probably even before that. Family vacations to Paradox Lake included my mom and dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. When my father tried to find a small reprieve from the chaos of our extended family under one roof, I often hijacked his quiet mornings on the lake, tagging along with a red Mickey Mouse fishing pole. Little did either of us know that those mornings on the lake would change the rest of my life.
Learning to fish on Paradox, I watched my father reel in pickerel, rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass. We would talk as I waited for my bobber to plunge beneath the surface; the anticipation of catching a big one making it hard for a five-year old me to sit still. Most trips I was too impatient to appreciate the stillness of the mind that fishing brings. Combing through tackle boxes, slowly my own collection of lures, hooks, and sinkers began to grow. When other girls were learning to french braid, I was learning to bait a hook with the cool and wiggly earth worms we purchased from the Sunoco Station or the bait shop in Schroon Lake.
Returning to the dock, I often fished for the small sunnies that lived in the river behind our cabin. As the years went on, our dock grew in importance. I’d face my fear of spiders for an hour or two of independence to practice my cast. Casting did and still does make me nervous; as an uncoordinated person I have fear of “catching” myself. I lost more worms on those casts than I caught fish, yet I’d return to the spot when I craved a place to think or appreciate the beauty of this place.
Family vacations to Schroon Lake continued and my collection of fishing gear grew as I did. Annual trips to Walmart gave me a chance to purchase new rods, lures, and anything else I thought was missing from my tackle box. Then one day, a group of boys I had met asked if I liked to fish. My affirmative answer got me an invitation to go out on the Schroon River the next day. With tackle box and fishing pole in hand, I arrived ready to spend an afternoon on the water. This trip began as many would over the following years, walking to an aluminum row boat, affectionately named Lucy. We caught small lake trout and began friendships that will last the rest of our lives.
A few years later, one of those boys introduced me to a family who vacations here every summer. Once again, fishing provided me with new connections and a new experience. During their stays, I would tag along on trips to the mouth of the Schroon River, standing in the shallow waters fishing with frogs or small bait fish purchased at Crossroads in Brant Lake. Another tradition was born and my favorite place grew a little bigger as I explored other fishing spots like Crane Pond.
Fishing in Schroon Lake became less about catching a big fish and more about spending the day with the right people. It was a bonding experience that gave us the chance to talk, sing along to the radio, and sit in silence with one another. Now living in Schroon Lake, fishing has given me the stillness needed after a long day of work, friends to call no matter what, and time with my father. As one of my friends would always say, “A bad day of fishing beats a good day of anything else.” He was right. The days spent on the water with my family and friends far outweigh the fish I will catch over my lifetime.