Backers of the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend see these two days as a chance to introduce the wonders of angling to the next generation of Oregonians. But what they're really pushing is a gateway drug that for many will lead to a life of underachievement and dirty fingernails.

Backers of the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend see these two days as a chance to introduce the wonders of angling to the next generation of Oregonians. But what they're really pushing is a gateway drug that for many will lead to a life of underachievement and dirty fingernails.

On the surface, an old sage helping a kid cast for stocked trout at Expo Ponds this weekend may appear to be a Norman Rockwell moment, Americana at its purest.

But what is that old dude really doing?

Although he may have the best of intentions, he's actually awakening the kid's deformed chromosome that makes those who suffer from it put piscatorial pursuits ahead of honest work, honest women and honest conversations.

In short, he's turning that kid into a — gulp — fisherman.

So be forewarned, you parents of impressionable youths.

The fishing faction is out this weekend to suck your children's futures into the bait bucket, replacing their potential to contribute to society with the need to wallow their days away along a river's edge with no interest in legitimate employment or truthful banter.

That's really what happens when you teach a kid to fish.

Teach a kid to fish, and you might as well hand him an Oregon Trail card, a bus pass and a lifetime supply of 1040EZ forms. That's because he'll quickly learn that full-time work is for suckers who can't tie egg-loops or Bimini Twists.

Teach a kid to fish, and you'll program him automatically to wake up three minutes before the 4:30 a.m. alarm sounds to fish for spring chinook salmon in the Rogue River, but he'll sleep through an 11 a.m. beep for Mother's Day brunch.

Teach a kid to fish, and you'll guarantee that one day he'll have a driver's license photo sporting a patch of chartreuse-glitter PowerBait in his beard.

Teach a kid to fish, and you turn him into a mathematical magician who can turn an 8-inch trout into a 14-incher just by letting it go. Give him a 14-pound wild spring chinook and — BAM! — it instantly becomes a 30-pounder as soon as it's released.

Teach a kid to fish, and he'll come to understand that the only Wedding Ring worth having is a spinner that's best served with a small piece of worm on the hook. Or a piece of corn, if he's fishing for kokanee.

Teach a kid to fish, and he'll grow up believing that the family refrigerator is the perfect place to keep cartons of worms. Right next to the beer.

Teach a kid to fish and he'll ask you to order the expanded cable package just to watch Larry Csonka catch the same chinook over and over again on Saturday mornings without ever realizing he once played football.

Teach a kid to fish and one day he'll flunk a job interview by intentionally botching the phrase, "Would you like to super-size that?"

Teach a kid to fish and he'll never own a truck but will always have a rig. He'll never have a suit but he'll always own the best rain gear Cabela's has to offer, and he'll wash his boat after every fishing trip but he'll never wash his waders.

Teach a kid to fish and he'll eventually be able to hold lengthy discussions about the relative merits of the articulated leech during a steelhead run but won't be able to understand why living in his parent's garage well into his 30s doesn't constitute being a leech.

Teach a kid to fish and he'll one day go to Maupin. On purpose.

Teach a kid to fish and he'll come to choose what house to rent for his family strictly on whether it has garage space for his driftboat and a covered porch for his smoker. Ol' What's-Her-Name can park that minivan of hers on the street.

Teach a kid to fish and one day he'll realize a little too late that Ol' What's-Her-Name's attorney is much better than his.

Teach a kid to fish and he might end up a Fish Hack, writing falsehoods about his angling pursuits in a local Fish Wrap while secretly dreaming of one day writing for an outdoor magazine so he can tell his buddies, "Now my lies are on shiny paper."

And if you end up teaching a kid to fish, the only two days he'll stay away from the water are Free Fishing Weekend because — like drunks who stay home on New Year's Eve — there's one time each year you just gotta leave to the amateurs.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.