We can learn alot from kids.
Last Friday, which incidently was St. Jean Baptiste 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 little ones.
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 water spout, deposited several Crappie, Smallmouth 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 pond...
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 is learned, 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 afterall, 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 Shark.
The bright green line yields another Smallmouth 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 number two. 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 nightcrawler. It is a trip fraught with dangers, like cow pies and cockleburrs. 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 nightcrawler. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!
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 nightcrawlers 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 Northcountry, 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, 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. Lesson four, is that you should wear gloves when cleaning those spiny sharp little Crappie and Bass-- or at least have some band aids ready.
Lesson five, 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 days 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!!
A. J. Klott