Don’t Take the Bait

We were vacationing in Wisconsin Dells, and as our time away was coming to a close, I decided it would be a great idea to take my young daughters to a trout farm to fish. I had seen the brochures for a place not too far from where we were staying.

When we arrived, the owners were friendly and accomodating as they handed us corn to put on the hooks of the fishing poles they supplied. My sister and her husband joined the kids and me on what we thought was sure to be a grand adventure. None of us had done this before so we all went into this uneducated. The woman who ran the operation told us,

“Whatever you catch, you have to keep, so be sure when you put your line in the water that you want the fish you see swimming toward your bait.”

Those were our only instructions. In the middle of the property there was a large body of water with fish swimming in circles. Both of my girls ran to the site and wanted to start right away. I helped them with the corn and not too long from the time they put the line in the water, they were pulling out fish left and right. Some were so big that we had to get the net to help bring them in.

My sister ventured over to another pond and caught the biggest fish they had. We clapped and cheered as she held up her trophy catch. My brother-in-law said,

“What did they say was the price for each fish caught?”

“The brochure said it was ten cents per pound.”

“Really? That’s not bad.”

After being there for awhile, I began to notice a fish that swam slower than the rest and one of its eyes was cloudy. Each time it came close to my line, I would yank it out of the water. This was not a fish I wanted to pay money for. I told my girls to watch out for that fish because it wasn’t worth catching. Each time it came near we would yell,

“Oh, no you don’t!” pull our lines up and it would move on again swimming in its circular pattern. It never gave up trying to jump on our lines and we had to be persistant to not let it latch on. I threw it a piece of corn just so it wouldn’t go without food.

We had a couple hours of non-stop excitement and took all of our fish into the cabin to figure out the price and what to do now that we owned them.

The woman began ringing them up on her cash register. As she did so, I glanced up at the board that clearly stated: $1.00 per pound. If you catch it, you buy it. $1.00?? What happened to my idea of ten cents per pound. I nudged my brother-in-law and pointed to the board of bad news.

“What? Does that say $1.00 per pound?”
“YES!” I whispered yelled.

At this point, I watched her weigh my sister’s catch. It came up on the scale at 18 pounds. My stomach churned at the thought of paying $18.00 for one fish! Nobody was cheering now.

“That will be $135.46 total.” I couldn’t speak.

I believe the lady knew we were in shock because she handed my youngest daughter a rubber fishing lure like she had won a grand prize.

My sister joined us and both she and my brother-in-law began checking their wallets for money.

“Neither one of us brought our credit cards,” they said. “We don’t have enough cash to cover it.”

Fortunately, I had my card, but I thought I was going to throw up. I don’t even remember handing it over to her. My whole body shut down at the thought of ‘wasting’ my money on just a bunch of fish.

After the extortation, I mean the purchase, both the woman and her husband went on happily to explain how to prepare the fish. I barely remember the conversation because I was having an out of body experience.

I was always the one to cut coupons and meticulously make sure that I didn’t overspend each month. Now, in a two hour time period I had actually spent about as much as I did at the grocery store for the week! My sister and her husband kept trying to make me feel better, but at the same time had a good laugh about my sticker shock.

On the way home, we stopped at a restuarant for lunch. My brother-in-law turned to me and said,

“It will be okay, Chris.”

That made me feel better momentarily. My appetite had left so I sat in the booth while they placed their orders at the counter.

When the waitress came to our table with the food, she said,

“Who had the fish sandwich?”

“That is mine,” my brother-in-law said. “How is your fish sandwhich here?” I saw the slight smile at the corners of his mouth.

“Really?” I said. “You couldn’t order a burger? You have to have fish right now?” He smiled at me.

“Yes. Oh, by the way, I need your opinion,” he said to the server. “How much would you pay for trout? Like by the pound?” My sister could hardly contain herself from laughing.

“Well, I don’t know,” the waitress said frowning as if she was trying to do the math in her head. She was an older lady who thought he was just being nice engaging in a conversation.  She had no clue that this entire exchange was torture for me.

“Would you pay $1.00 per pound?” He inquired.

“Well, that is kind of steep for fish.”

Again, I felt my stomach flip in regret. I heard him say, “trout farm” and she replied, “those are rip offs.”

Many years have come and gone since that time, and I got over the financial surpise by making a scrapbook where I put the receipt from that day next to a picture of my daughter holding up a big fish in a net. But, every once in awhile I am haunted by the image of that slowly swimming fish with the one blind eye.  In fact, I have used him as my example when talking to a single friend of mine who keeps going to the same group of people to hopefully find his dream girl.  We are good friends, so when I told him he was like the old fish in the pond with the bad eye, he got the analogy and wasn’t offended. He understood my point that in order to find something new, he needs to go swim in another pond.

But, don’t we all?  When we cling to old ideas that no longer serve us and we keep trying to make it work without good results, aren’t we going in one big circle?  When we refuse to allow fresh new thoughts into our minds, we are clouding our vision and restricting ourselves to a confined way of thinking and living. It’s time to cast aside the old and make the decision that fear, worry, and excuses will get us nowhere. Become aware of why you are making the choices that you are so you can unhook yourself from all that is not helpful and move onto ideas that will be for your highest good.  In this way, you will no longer be taking the bait.

(My daughter proudly displaying her catch.  The actual receipt that caused me to nearly faint)


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