Today I face the sternest test any angler will ever face.

Is it Permit? Brookies? Roosters? Tarpon??

If you suggested one of the above, I can only laugh at you in a bitter, twisted fashion.

After all, fish can only humiliate and degrade you.

What I’m talking about is much, much worse — where tiny, sticky fingers reach right down into the depths of your soul, plucking at the very foundation of your humanity (before leaving peanut butter and jelly smeared all over your sense of self-worth).

It’s the free kid’s fishing day at the local hatchery.

Where tiny children with clearly inadequate tackle are pitted against trout approximately 2.75 times their mass, with all the chaos that guarantees.

And this year, I’m not just in charge of my own squealing, whirling mass of unfocused energy. No. I’m responsible for two squealing, whirling masses.

In a decision made by other parents in my absence (the most disastrous kind), I’m also expected to provide “expertise” for another set of tiny, sticky fingers, as if decades spent on trout streams could possibly prepare a man for such a moment.

As if anything could.

Pray for me, Undergrounders. I rate my odds of survival (psychically speaking) at somewhere below 30%.

But I’m going in anyway.

See you at the hatchery, Tom Chandler.