Take a kid fishing

My nine year old daughter Mary Beth had been begging me to take her kayak fishing for a while. I would always tell her that she needed to wait until the weather warmed up and I would take her in the kayaks to try to catch some bream. She would only reply “No Daddy, I want to go striper fishing with you”. I always told her that maybe when she got a little older we would go. She would poke out her lips and say ok, but I knew she had her mind made up.

Every time that I was preparing to go out she would inevitably pose the same question “Can I go Daddy?” One day my resistance wore down and I told her she may go. What bothered me here is the look of unbelief on her face that she was getting to go fishing with Daddy. She immediately began to get ready, you could sense her excitement. She put on some warm clothes and was waiting at the jeep before I even got the kayaks loaded.

We got to the launch and went over some safety items and as I prepared the two kayaks for hopefully some productive fishing. We launched, I baited her lines and we began to patrol looking for some active fish. As it goes with little girls, it wasn't long before she said she needed to take a potty break. She paddled over to the bank and getting out of her kayak lost her balance and fell in the lake up to her waist. Oh great I thought, as I paddled over to help her out. It was cold enough that being wet was not a pleasant thing. She was wet and cold and I knew that we had to get back to the launch and go home to get her dry and warmed up. She let me know that she was ready to take it in also.

On the way in her drag started screaming, she grabbed her rod and began fighting the fish on the other end. I was praying that it wasn't a large striper as I paddled up beside her to assist her. She was giggling the whole time and exclaiming what a big fish she had. When she got it alongside the yak she had a spotted bass. She held up her trophy and I took a photo of her first fish and then released it to fight another day.

It wasn’t but a few minutes her other line got hit and she forgot about the first as she grappled for the second rod. She fought another fine spotted bass yak-side. We went through the same procedure of her giggling and telling me what a big fish she had on the line as she fought it. This one was not going to give up easy and made several good runs on the drag before letting her grab it for a photo opportunity.

After the release Mary Beth looked at me and said “Daddy I’m not cold anymore we can stay and fish some more.” I knew where this was coming from; down deep inside there lays a serious fisherman waiting for expression in the pursuit of the next catch. Unfortunately I knew we could not stay out any longer. So we headed in and called it a day.

As I was thinking about our little outing, I began to remember what it was like as a child when I got to go with my Dad or Grandfather. I remember the excitement and the joy of sharing each catch and accomplishment with those that took me out. I was not just adding trophies to my bucket list; I was making memories that would shape me as an adult.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our sport that we forget that we need to be passing on our passion, knowledge and experience to our children. They are the stewards and consumers of our natural resources of the future, and let’s face it; there is a lot of competition for our children’s attention today. Seems most children are content being camped out in front of a television watching it or playing games. We owe it to the next generation to show them there is more to this world than technology and digital entertainment.

I can attribute my passion for fishing to my Grandfather and Father who took time with me and exposed me to the outdoors at an early age. If only I can give half of what I received I know I will make a huge difference in the life of a child. The experiences, the knowledge, and memories will stay with them long after I am gone and that my friends is my legacy. What are you leaving behind?