Skip to main content

We watch the video of blonde Sigrún
three years old in pink boots
fishing in the fjord with her Afi.
She flashes a gap-toothed grin
while reeling in a wriggling codfish
with a little help from beaming Afi.
The fish is half her size.
Soon she will eat part of it
in order to grow old and wrinkled
and, with luck, half-remember
the pleasure of catching something
wet and slick and still alive
surrounded by those who adore you
just for being alive yourself.

“First Fishing” from The Chain Letter of the Soul by Bill Holm (Minneapolis, Milkweed Editions, 2009). © 2009 by Bill Holm. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.

This poem originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Anglers Journal magazine.

Subscribe to Anglers Journal here ▶



First Run

Spring calls winter-weary anglers out of hibernation in search of the patterns and clues that point to the early runs of striped bass.


Poem: Advice to Female Deckhands

The job of deckhands who happen to be women goes far beyond standing watches, unloading fish and mending nets.


Poem: Fish

The poet reflects on the life of a brook trout.


Alaska, the First Time

A son surprises his fisherman father with a flight to Alaska, where the elder finds youthful reverie on the wild rivers and scenic bays of the last frontier.

prm-Credit Focused Collection-Deposit Photos

The Fishing Pole of the Drowned Man

Sometimes someone's old rod brings good luck; sometimes it unleashes a new set of problems


Fish Favorites: Bluefin Tuna

A healthy bluefin tuna on spinning gear can make even a buff young guy cry uncle

18777 Til Morning Comes acryl canv 30x30

At the Fish Houses

A poet recalls the images and sounds of a New England waterfront, where the cold, dark water signals deeper mysteries


Fish Story

A monster catfish, the remittance for a $67 debt, is on the menu at a bizarre party in Texas. Fiction by Rick Bass