When I was thirteen, my parents sold the house where I grew up and bought a home in the city. One winter morning, I was standing in my parents’ bedroom in the new house looking out the window at the backyard, which was dominated by an in-ground swimming pool. This being winter, the pool was green — the normal color of unused and untreated pools. What had drawn my attention to the window was Mom’s cocker spaniel, Rusty. He was running around the edge of the pool, barking and staring into its depths. Suddenly, the dog gave a flying leap and landed with a splash in the middle of the pool.
Mom and I rushed outside to rescue the psychotic dog only to discover that there were fish in the swimming pool — actual, honest-to-God bass swimming around, eating the algae. We didn’t know exactly how they had gotten there, but we suspected who did. You see, my father had cultivated a fishing habit.
When Dad came home that afternoon, Mom confronted him. “Why are there fish in the swimming pool?”
I watched as my dad stammered around the question for a minute or two before finally admitting he had caught them on his last fishing trip and brought them home to “practice.”
“Practice? Why would you need to practice fishing?”
“Oh, you know, to learn what bait works best. But the fish are smart. They only let me catch them once a day.” My dad had been in the habit of floating his aluminum boat in the middle of the pool and fishing off the side of it, as if he were in the middle of a large lake. He did this in the early morning hours, long before Mom and I were awake. Apparently, the bass had been there for weeks before Rusty happened to spot them and alert us to the backyard fishery.
A week or two later, Mom invited a bunch of friends over for a fish fry. I actually got to see my dad fishing in our pool. I wonder if it bothered him to kill the fish — after all, he must have been extremely familiar with them after so many games of catch and release. And the fish were probably shocked.