TRURO – Big grin and one word, “Excited.”
That’s how Isaiah Edwards, 7, sitting in his wheelchair on the side of Pilgrim Pond, reacted to his first fishing expedition and catching his first fish, a yellow perch.
On Tuesday, Isaiah went to Pilgrim Pond with three veteran Truro fishermen, including two 7-year-old classmates and one of their fathers. It was there, under the tutelage of commercial fisherman Michael Packard of Truro, that Isaiah reeled in the fish.
Isaiah caught his yellow perch just as Cape Code Wave drove up. By the time we pulled our camera out, the fish was tossed back to fight another day. But we saw it. This is no fish story. Well, okay, it’s a fish story. A true one.
It starts with the father in this story, Packard, 51, who has lived on Cape Cod since he was 10. When it comes to fishing, Packard said enthusiastically, “I love it.”
His job is to fish. When he’s not working, he said, he’s fishing. “Me and my son, we go fishing all the time,” he said.
His son, Josiah Packard, 7, had two friends over the house on Tuesday. One was Isaiah, and the other was Noah Thrasher, also 7. All are classmates in first grade at Truro Central School.
Josiah said he has been fishing for so long that he doesn’t actually remember his first time. And Noah said he first went fishing almost half a lifetime ago in Maine, when he was 4.
But Isaiah had never fished until Tuesday. “These two boys were just over the house,” said Packard. “I’ve been meaning to bring Isaiah fishing.”
Tuesday was the day. “I thought Isaiah, with his disability, would enjoy it,” said Packard. “It’s something he can do and there are all kinds of opportunities on the Cape.”
Isaiah did enjoy it. Of course, he was brought along by some enthusiastic fishermen as tutors.
According to Noah, “When you feel the tug on the line, it’s so exciting. And then to reel it in and find a fish on the line, that’s great.”
And Josiah, at 7, already knows what he wants to do for a living. He wants to be a commercial fisherman, like his father. “No question,” he said, with a strong tone.
For his part, Packard said of his reason for fishing on a Tuesday afternoon at Pilgrim Pond, “It’s this boy here, my youngest. He’s the epitome of me. He loves the outdoors and he doesn’t love computer games. He loves everything and anything I do, and I feel so unbelievably fortunate.”
“With my son, we do a lot of foraging together,” said Packard. “Mushrooms, cranberries, beach plums, watercress, cattails, blueberries. I just grew up like that.”
They also go hunting, he said. Recently, as Josiah proudly proclaimed, they got a turkey.
“We made turkey jerky,” said Packard. “It was so good.”
Asked if he liked living on Cape Cod, Josiah threw the final cast of the day and said, “I love it.”