All Stories, General Fiction

The Old Fisherman by Jerry Guarino 

Tony carefully looked over his choices.  Should I go with live bait or a lure?  The sky is clear today.  No cloud cover means the fish will be able to see me casting.  A shiny yellow plunker will catch the sunlight and attract them, but a live minnow will attract their smell.  All right, I’ll start with the plunker. 

The plunker was his favorite lure.  His father had given it to him before he died, along with all his old gear.  Sure, there were fancy new lures, but the plunker was his dad’s favorite, so he used it out of respect.  Tony remembered getting up early to get on the boat.  His mom would pack a lunch for them.  By the end of the day, they were as smelly as the fish, but always brought something home for dinner.

But he was alone today.  Both his parents gone now.  Fishing was the one thing he could do that brought back memories of them.

It was one of those days when the fish were winning.  Tony never got skunked before.  He thought about fishing with his father, how his dad would encourage him when the fish weren’t biting.

“Don’t worry Tony.  The big ones are coming.  You have to be patient.”

And they always came.  Tony and his father wouldn’t leave until they brought one home for dinner, even if it was small, just one or two pounds.

Tony was getting tired.  He reached down for a snack, but there wasn’t any.

I guess Ma forgot to pack my lunch.  Or maybe I just forgot to take it.  Yeah, Ma never forgets me.

Tony started to rub his eyes.  The sun was going down.  He heard something from behind.  It was his son David.

“How are they biting pop?  What have you caught today?”

“Sorry son.  I’ve been fighting them off for a couple hours.  I get one on the line and he wriggles out, or bites the line.  I even lost my best plunker.”

“Let me try pop.”

David took the gear, pulled out a crawfish, dipped it in garlic juice and baited the hook.  Then he leaned back and cast it out about thirty yards, between some lily pads.

“Careful son, you might get tangled in the weeds there.”

“I know pop.”  David reeled in, swaying his rod from left to right and back to left again, very slowly.  Then he stopped and jiggled the tip up and down.  Nothing yet.  He began again, repeating the swaying and pausing, jiggling the tip up and down.  When his cast returned to about fifteen yards out, he sensed a nibble.

“I got a nibble pop.”

“Don’t jerk him too fast, let him take the bait.”

“I know pop.  I learned from the best.”


Strike!  Suddenly the fish took the hook and began running out.  Twenty, thirty yards out, then darting back and forth, trying to escape the hook.  But David had him.  He set the hook and began reeling him in slowly, keeping tension on the line so the fish couldn’t get away.

“You got him son.  How big is it?”

The fish jumped out of the water.  It was a big one.

“Pop, I think we have dinner tonight.  Looks like a five pounder, at least.”

David pulled the fish out of the water, a largemouth bass.  He put it on the scale.  Seven pounds even.

“Hey Ma!  David got a big one.  Seven-pound largemouth bass.”

No answer.

“She’s probably doing laundry pop.  Go wash up and meet me in the kitchen.  I’ll make you dinner.”

“You bringing that bass son?”

“You bet pop.  Just give me a minute to clean it.”

Tony went downstairs, washed his hands and sat at the kitchen table.

“Ma, where are you?  David’s gonna fry up a fish for dinner.”

No answer.

David turned off the PlayStation and joined his father in the kitchen.  He took out some fresh fish he brought from the grocery.

“You cleaned it real fine son.  Good job.”

“Thanks pop.  You taught me how.”

David and his father had dinner, then went to the living room.  Tony always got sleepy after dinner.  As he was nodding off, he turned to David.

“Where’s Ma, son?”

David cried a little.  “Probably doing laundry pop.”

“All right.”  And he fell asleep in his chair.


Jerry Guarino

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay




18 thoughts on “The Old Fisherman by Jerry Guarino ”

  1. A story that reeled me in slowly, like a fish on the line. A gentle realisation how devastating dementia can be. The mind/brain is the most elusive and complex part of the human anatomy, it creates a world of its own. When it goes wrong, there are no spare parts to fix it.
    Jerry’s story sums up the problem with his endearing treatment of a sad situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simple, beautiful, and sad.

    I’m glad that Tony at least has David. He’s a good son.

    But Jerry, I didn’t like this statement: “David cried a little”. I know you wrote it to let us know Tony has Alzheimer’s but I still find this statement a bit odd.

    Thanks again for sharing your story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Jerry,
    It’s great to see you here!!
    There have been a few stories this week where the tone has been beautifully judged. This is one of them.
    We get a lot of stories about Dementia and few make it. There needs to be an understanding and humility about them with just that little bit of something that makes the reader feel the story.
    This was a well written and believable piece of work.
    All the very best my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Hugh,

      perhaps I’ll be able to get another one of my stories in someday.. much appreciation for your continued encouragement..



  4. A well laid out story about drifting in and out of time, past to present, fading in and out and back in again. Tony perceives life going on as usual, with a few gaps “where’s Ma?” David’s in the day to day reality of it.


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