You won't find this profession listed anywhere in the "Help Wanted" ads. There are no brochures handed out on career day where a job like this is highlighted, and it's not an occupation ever recommended by your high school counselor, or that college advisor.
You see, nobody ever sets out to be a fishing butler. It just happens one day. You take a group of kids fishing, and suddenly you realize you are working exclusively as their servant or attendant, minus the snappy little black sport coat and the linen towel over your arm.
Children love water. They love playing in it, splashing it around and tossing objects into the water. It is with the best of intentions that we bring kids to the water and introduce them to fishing. The fishing butler thing is just a product of the mixture.
Teaching kids to fish can be gratifying and it can give you a real sense of accomplishment. If they are casting from the bank and watching that bobber intently, then they are not playing video games, watching inane reruns of iCarly, or texting nonsense to their friends in exchange for other nonsense.
A fishing lesson for kids gives them an early start on a variation of that Biblical path ? if you just give them a fish then you feed them for a day, but teach them to fish, and they will enjoy it for life.
There is one foundational principle that never changes when you take kids fishing ? they fish and you don't ? and the fish butler learns that very quickly. Beyond that, there is no script for what could potentially take place.
A fishing clinic set up for kids is the ideal place to watch the unwitting fish butler at work. He initially thinks of his role as that of an instructor, an esteemed professor of angling. But it becomes rapidly apparent that on this particular day he will handle the fish, handle the bait, and dodge flying hooks, all while spending no time with a fishing pole in his hand.
With nothing but the best of intentions, he first attempts to give kids a quick instructional session, aware that their attention span is brief. He explains safety around the water, how fish use habitat and the ways to identify the different species native to Ohio.
With a tempting container of worms in front of them and a pond less than 50 feet away, the kids make it clear they are here to fish, so the lesson comes to them as the express version. It is deemed wiser to teach them as they fish, rather than before they fish.
It takes some coaxing but they spread out enough to avoid instantaneous tangled lines. Before all of the hooks are baited, one of the first kids to get a rig in the water already has attracted the attention of one of the pond's aggressive bass. There are screams and shrieks, but they are the good kind, born of excitement.
That frisky fall bass is carefully removed from the hook in an educational mini-lesson on proper fish-handling, then returned to the pond. In the next minute, two other kids hook fish, and the butler has his agility and speed tested.
There's a hefty rock bass that takes one bobber well under the surface, then a chunky blue gill grabs a worm and makes a run for the middle of the pond. Kids in all directions are reeling, casting and calling for the fish butler.
Now the teaching comes more in a series of quick bursts of information before the fish butler has to move on to the next duty. A bird's nest of line needs untangled, a hook lodged in a fish's gill plate is carefully extricated and 9-1-1 calls for bait are answered.
By the end of a couple hours, the kids are hungry and the fish are not, so the children retreat and get ready to dive into lunch. As they leave the pond area, they carefully secure the hooks on their fishing lines and store the poles upright, just like their weary fish butler had asked them to do.
Like any day spent fishing, it's a very good day. There is no real glory in being the fish butler, but when the ones you serve catch fish and are happy, you put it on your resume. Then you make a note: Next time ? more kids, and more butlers.
Matt Markey is the A-T outdoors columnist.
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