We can learn a lot from
Last Friday, which
incidentally was St. Jean Batiste Day in Quebec, was also the day we decided to
have Grandpa's Pond day in Shady Cove, Oregon. Everything went off just as
planned. In Shady Cove, anyway.
A beautiful early summer
day, this is the annual "take the kids fishing and make sure they catch fish
day", that we have to help build interest and enthusiasm towards fishing for our
The pond is not large,
and really is a watering hole for the few head of cattle that roam the hillside
on Grandpa Ray's mini ranch. At some point, a previous owner or large
waterspout, deposited several Crappie, Small mouth Bass, and who knows what else
into the tiny pond. There, the fish have flourished, reproduced and turned the
pond into a lovely little starting place for kids to learn to fish. Truth be
told, the adults like to use it for a confidence builder also. The fish don't
get very big, and like an overcrowded meadow, it is nice to thin the herd.
Anyway, my five year old
daughter and her school buddy James were excited and donned in fishing hats
ready to go fishing. A couple other lads, Sterling & Saxon-- were supposed to
attend but unfortunately their dad must have had some bad oatmeal and decided to
do some toilet trolling instead. I know--too much information!!
Meanwhile back at the
Grandpa had the worms ready and we had three poles ready to go. (For those of
you who cringe at the term" pole"-- it is acceptable when referring to kids
fishing!!) Two of the poles were standard issue, fish tested, Fenwick "rods",
the third was the little "Barbie" pole I bring out for my daughter each
year--complete with Tiggger bobber and bright green line.
The kids are always
overly excited at first and can't wait to get the lines in the water. Luckily,
it took all of thirty seconds to have the first nibbles and soon Tigger was
"scuba diving" below the surface.
I think the fish wait all year for us to show up too!
Of course both my
daughter and James want to claim the first fish and they are clamoring for the
chance to reel in a six-inch fish on the "Barbie-nator" fish slaying machine. I
appeal to James manhood and the chauvinistic "ladies first" approach, and hand
over the pole to my daughter. She loses the fish in the weeds.
Lesson number one
sometimes the fish wins. Lesson number one "A" is also learned, --that it is
O.K. for a dad to look less than manly with a Barbie pole-- but not a five year
old macho boy!!
It didn't take long
before the next fish was dancing around with the worm, and soon the kids were
reeling in fish left and right and dropping them into the fish bucket. Well, I
guess we did most of the dropping into the bucket, since the kids thought the
fish should just submit quietly when being removed from the hook. The flopping
and wiggling of the fish induced happy shrieks and giggles and once the fish
were "stabilized" into the fish bucket-- then it was O.K. to pet and observe the
fish in a more controlled environment.
Kids are pretty
accepting at this age. They seem to understand that it is O.K. to appreciate and
find the fish "cute", as well as have them for dinner. They are fish after all,
and there is no worry of "endangered species" on Grandpa's pond.
Kids usually also have
the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel at this age, so after about a half hour
of catching fish, (and releasing the small ones) in order to keep it interesting
for them you have to get creative.
The first thing I do, is
tell the kids that now we are going to try and catch the Shark that is in the
pond. James thinks this is really COOL. He is a little skeptical, and more than
sure that Sharks don't live in small ponds in Shady Cove Oregon-- but he is
willing to go along with the "fish tale" after I let him know that these are
"freshwater" Sharks. As I show him the special technique I use to entice the
"freshwater" Sharks from the murky deep- I cast into the reeds and as the bait
starts to circle I ask him if he thinks that it might be a Shark nibble. The
battle is on and James is reeling in with hopes of catching his first pond
The bright green line
yields another Small mouth and I explain that the Sharks are tricky in these
waters and sometimes "grab" a smaller fish and pull the old switcheroo trick,
where they put the small fish on while the line is being reeled in.
James is skeptical once more.
Here comes lesson
We fishermen and
budding fishermen, live for the thought that the big one is out there somewhere
and as long as we have a chance to catch it--we will keep coming back.
After a few "switcheroos"
it is time to "venture" off to the great unknown.
The other side of the pond!!
We grab a pole and
without so much as packing a lunch or snack, we head off like Tom Sawyer, Becky
Thatcher and an old bald Huck Finn. Twenty yards later we arrive at the wilds of
the other side of the pond. I explain to the kids that I saw Shark bubbles over
here, and we keep the Shark tale active.
By now, the kids
interest has turned to building a "bridge" over the great Bovine river-- which
is a two foot irrigation ditch- and crossing back and forth to test its
engineering. Then my daughter of course wants to play "little house on the
prairie" and starts doling out instructions for the homestead to James. I rescue
James by sending him on another adventure. He is to go solo on a mission back to
Fort Fish Bucket, and bring back another night crawler. It is a trip fraught
with dangers, like cow pies and cockleburs. I wish James well and soon he is
sending messages back to our camp of his "leaping" over cow pies and battles
with hostile sticker bushes, which have apparently riddled his socks with
attachment. James returns from the frontier with a night crawler. MISSION
Sara, not wanting to be
left out of the great adventures, and hearing of James harrowing tales of the
trail, now wants to head to Fort Fish Bucket on a mission of her own. I let her
know that the well being of our continued stay out in the wilds of North pond
country, will be determined on the success of her trip to Fort Fish Bucket, and
the return of further provisions, in the form of a couple more night crawlers
and a couple of hooks.
With fore warnings of
the imminent cow pie dangers, Sara is well prepared for the journey, and soon is
stocking up at Fort Fish Bucket. Her return is delayed, as there are bugs to
observe, bullfrogs spotted on the water, and flowers to pick. She finally
returns to our outpost--sans hooks-- which must have been lost along the trail.
This limits our stay in the North country, and we soon head back to Fort Fish
Bucket, with a few more fish-- and tales of the wild.
Lesson number three
is for the adults
There is so much
fun to be had along the way, and the true joy of fishing is ALL the things that
go on, in and around the act of fishing. The stories, the anticipation, and the
environment around you--all things that can be overlooked when we are hell bent
on CATCHING fish.
We caught a MESS a fish
that day and when we got back to the ranch--it was time for the cleaning and
eating of our days catch.
Is that you
should wear gloves when cleaning those spiny sharp little Crappie and Bass-- or
at least have some band-aids ready.
Was that as
fishermen and fisherwomen we should always have respect for the animals that
give their lives up to sustain ours. The kids enjoyed eating the fish as much as
the catching, especially when you mixed 'em up with enough mashed taters. James
even wanted to bring some of his catch home so his dad could have some.
We talked of the day's
successful fishing and James shared with us- tales of another fishing trip to
Applegate Lake--where he, his dad, and some friends caught some trout.
Guess they weren't able
to catch any Sharks either!!
Author, writer of fishing humor, and "fly tack" peddler. A.J. writes about the
people, characters and modern day events that surround the fishing world. His
first book is due out in December of 2005. If you need a laugh or a fun gift,
visit his website at: