An earlier post asking when to start kids fishing brought back such pleasant memories...
I took our oldest son Dave fishing for the first time when he was 4 in a Pennsylvania farm pond. He caught a little bluegill on the edge of the dock and he handled the rod mostly by himself. It didn't occur to me at the time to tell him how to reel in the fish so he proceeded to reel that little thing clear to the top of the rod - its fish lips were plastered against the top guide sticking straight out like a flag - it was hilarious then and I remember it vividly to this day.
Later, I started taking Dave and our daughter Kris when they were about 10 and 8 years old fishing from a rental row boat on a small lake in Wisconsin. I initially thought I was going to get to fish, too, but was soon educated about two kids in a boat trying to fish. We had good times but I didn't do much fishing when I had them along. They did learn to fish, though.
Later, our third son Jon came along and by then I had a process for getting little kids fishing - I learned more about patience. Not sure I actually learned patience, but I did learn more about it.
So, a few years later I was recovering from a heart attack and at the end of my recovery period that summer we all went up to a secluded cabin for a week in northern Wisconsin - in addition to our three kids we brought along Sean, one of their cousins. By that time the kids were pretty well established fishermen aged 12 to 16.
One beautiful sunny morning I woke up early in the cabin to go fishing. I looked for the kids but they were all gone. My wife was still in bed, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and my little tackle box and spinning reel and walked down the hill to the dock. I looked out over the lake and there they were - in three different boats, scattered all over the lake each out there fishing. It made me immensely proud that we had gotten them to such a point of interest and independence. That is a memory I shall always cherish. And they did catch fish.
I got in a rowboat by the dock, put my coffee mug down beside me and strung up my rod with a Hula Popper. The water was absolutely still - a classic mirror surface - perfect for popping. I pushed off with the oars and started drifting down the shoreline, casting as I went. Slowly, slowly, just occasionally giving the oars a pull or a tug to keep parallel to the shore.
I was using the old method of casting the plug and allowing it to sit for a long time before twitching it. Barely reeling in the line to get the slack out, just letting it sit in the still water.
About a hundred yards down from the dock a massive old pine tree had fallen over in to the lake. It had been there for years and its branches were spindly and spiky as they disappeared in the clear water. As I drifted closer to the tree I was thinking of the many, many times I had seen my father fish situations just like this. He died about 6 months before my heart attack that Spring. Usually I was watching him from a distance on the shore of the lake where we used to stay during our one-week summer vacation in Ohio. He would sit out there in his little rowboat and smoke his pipe and cast in to the drowned trees along the bank of the lake for hours.
I inched just close enough to reach the old tree and cast the Hula Popper to the outside edge of the limbs as they dropped off into deep water. The popper sat there, unmoving. The ripples died away. I slowly winched the line tight, ever so slowly so as not to move the popper. When I couldn?t stand it any longer I gave it a little twitch and at that instant a three pound largemouth underneath it just sucked it in. No splash, no tail jumping, just a vacuum from below and we were off to the races. He dove into cover and I pulled him back out - my old Cardinal spinning reel drag knob was easily accessible so I could feather it as he kept trying to get into the tree. Back and forth we went - after a short tense fight I had him beside the boat and brought him aboard.
I have caught bigger fish of all kinds and in a variety of ways but that fish gave me more satisfaction than any other. It tied three generations of our family together that morning.
As I later reflected on that day I realized that without thinking about it I had gotten up in the morning, dressed almost identically the way my Dad did when he went fishing then proceeded to fish in the same way. About the only difference was I didn't smoke a pipe.
I have posted on this board in another place how after retiring a year ago I taught my kids and son-in-law how to fly fish. Actually, 'cast a fly rod' would be more descriptive - except in the case of our youngest son, Jon, out in Colorado. In just a year and a half he has become a capable and successful fly fisherman out on the South Platte and Big Thompson rivers. I now find that when we fish together he is teaching me about presentation and other aspects of the sport.
Our grandkids are beginning to learn to fish now - we took our first grandchild Emily out on Lake Michigan perch fishing last summer before her family moved to North Carolina. She had a blast. For her 7th birthday this past December I gave her a fly rod. Our 4 year old grandson Peter will get his first fly rod in April and his baby brother Shamus got his rod at his birth a year and a half ago:
Shamus Patrick Carlisle Houf and Gpa with fly rod and reel Nov 2010.jpg
How wonderful and blessed it is to live long enough to watch this cycle repeat itself!
Last edited by K7zb; 01-22-2012 at 05:46 PM.