The youngest boy we call Boo Boo had shown no aptitude for fishing in his first eight years – not much interest, either, which worried me.
If nothing else, children are a wonderful excuse to go fishing. As in, “Well, I would paint that kitchen wall, honey, but the boys really want to go fishing.”
Problem is, if you must force the kids to fish, most wives see through the ruse. My secret is to feed the boys well on fishing trips and to fill their tackle boxes with interesting lures.
Usually, food and lures are good for several excused outings per year. Last Friday was one. And it shocked me, frankly. Forced outside by their mother, the two youngest boys got bored and eventually started picking through tackle boxes. In time they became eager to do more than look at lures, which reinforces my belief that boredom is underrated in a kid’s life.
So late in the afternoon, after the water had warmed, we headed to a deep strip mine southeast of Elmwood.
Early spring is among my favorite times to fish, because big bass are at their most vulnerable and can be almost predictable.
The first spot we fished is a south-facing bay with a dark bottom that typically warms faster than other locations in the lake. When the wind is blowing into this bay after a few days of warm, stable weather, fishing can be very good for bass, crappie and bluegill.
But usually the bite does not turn on until later in March. So we were ahead of schedule, and I figured it would be enough for the boys to eat and to get in some casting practice.
The youngest had other ideas. After a fishless hour, he sighed, “So far so bad.”
Yes, he is a precocious little rascal. We shake our heads at his antics on a regular basis.
Still I knew time was limited before his second-grade attention span would wane. So we left the strip mine and headed to a second, smaller lake where the water would surely be warmer.
Once there, we set up on a shoreline with the wind blowing into it. While casting into the wind is tough for youngsters, it’s another key to catching bass from shore in spring.
Beyond that, of course, luck is a huge factor. How else to explain what happened?
Boo Boo was fishing with one of his brother’s older, closed-face rod and reel combos that had not seen new line in at least five years. He was casting a heavy, black and chartreuse hair jig in order to contend with the wind.
I had no thought he would catch a fish. My money was on his brother, Victor, a good angler when he doesn’t get in a rush.
Then, out of the blue, Boo’s bright blue pole bent double.
“I got one,” he yelled.
Moments after we unhooked that first chunky bass, Boo hooked another. This one was quite a bit bigger – at 19.25 inches it would later be confirmed as the largest caught out of the lake.
The boy was not done. After his biggest bass (above) swam off, he caught four more. I managed two. His brother caught just one.
“Well, Dad,” Boo said, ever the philosopher. “At least Victor learned some new things today.”
So did I. The youngest boy might be a fisherman after all.