Last updated 12/28/2021 at 8:52pm
For some strange and unknown reason it seems like the older I get the faster things tend to repeat themselves. At times I would swear the pages on the calendar flip by two months at time instead of just one. Recently I began the process of renewing my Coast Guard license for the 5th or 6th time and I started thinking about how much time that represented, especially knowing that its five years between each renewal. As I stood next to the island in my kitchen and opened up my new set of Coast Guard documents I couldn’t help but take a short trip down memory lane. As a guide you remember a lot things about a lot of different trips and eventually they all feel as if they have run together. There are however some things that always stick out like some of the bigger fish that have been caught and some of the crazier characters you encounter because they always come with a story. Perhaps some of my favorite memories are when someone on my boat catches their first fish, I truly cherish opportunities like that because they are indeed special. Just recently I was fortunate enough to have had such a trip and it was like a shot in the arm for me, a reminder of why I enjoy guiding so much.
A few weeks ago I was approached by a friend of mine about taking his family out on a fishing trip because his eight year old son was completely infected with “fishing fever”. It seems that during a cub scout exercise the young man was introduced to fishing and wanted to pursue it as much and as soon as possible. My friend knew very little about the sport but wanted to give his son every opportunity to enjoy it so he did the next best thing by seeking out professional help. The goal was simple, take the young man out, catch a few fish, and teach him some basics that will enable him to not only learn about the sport but get better at the same time. I’m not sure who was more excited the day of the trip, the boy, his dad, or myself.
Our day started off with perfect conditions, flat calm and crisp temperatures, we could not have asked for any better situation. The bonus for me was the entire family decided to come along, both parents and 3 youngsters (2 boys and 1 girl) aged eight, five, and four. Even though it takes some extra patience to deal with the youngsters I generally enjoy each opportunity to take kids fishing and this would be no exception. After getting everybody squared away with life jackets and basic safety rules we made a run out into the lake to look for working birds and schooling trout. It took us a few stops to finally figure out what was going on but eventually we figured it out. It was perfect as each child ended up with an adult being able to supervise them. The pattern for the trip was spinning rods and rattling corks with soft plastics tied beneath them, a combo the small trout and sand trout found irresistible. The first fish for each child was met with great excitement by all in attendance.
Easily the highlight of the day came towards the end of the afternoon as hefty 28 inch redfish obliterated the popping cork and proceeded to make a rather long run before deciding to really put up a fight. At this point each of the kids took turns battling the redfish while the others cheered enthusiastically. The first glimpse of the fish next to the boat in the clear water was met with gasps of excitement and general wonder. After we finally subdued the fish and lid it into the net you would’ve thought we had just won the World Series as the celebration ensued. I was as happy for them as they were to catch such a great fish. The genuine excitement and wonder on all their faces was priceless and I was certainly proud to be a part of it all. After a lengthy photo session where all the kids posed with “their” trophy we headed north and called it day. As the family drove off I could see the smiles on all the kids faces as well the looks on each parents face as they had just made a memory the whole family would enjoy for years to come. I was extremely proud to have been a part of that.
In the days following that family trip I slipped back into the mode of routine trips with experienced fishermen and that brought on a whole new set of circumstances and things to be considered. I have often written about fishing in the winter and some of the things that should be on each anglers mind and the top of the list should be keeping yourself safe in the harsher elements. Cold water is unforgiving so the proper clothing and personal floatation device is a must. If you have never fallen in the water during those colder months all I can tell you is be prepared for what those temps will do to your body. The instant shock will render you all but useless in short amount of time so a PFD is an absolute essential piece of gear. I have a close friend who owes his life to a PFD after his boat capsized during a December outing several years ago. Without that PFD there is no way he could’ve sustained himself for as long as he did until he was plucked out of the water by another fisherman. Wear that PFD and enjoy your time on the water.