I bought my now 6 year old his first spinning rod/reel for his birthday on June 17th. He was over the top excited to get a "real" rod and reel, as he put it, and he knew we would be heading to the cottage last weekend to open the bass fishing season up north here in Ontario, Canada. The ride to the cottage is about 3 hours and the entirety of the ride my son was telling anyone who would listen that he was going to catch a "picture worthy' bass. Please keep in mind that up here in Canada we don't grow them nearly as big as you guys do in the great state of Texas so a picture worthy fish up here could be anything over two pounds!
My son has had success fishing for blue gill and what not with the occasional bass in the 1lb range from time to time. This trip he wasn’t interested in that, he only wanted to go for bass and wanted a “good one”. Our cottage is on a small lake that doesn’t see a lot of action and is well past its hay day for big fish. I have been fishing it for 30+ years and my PB is 4.7lb smallie. From what I understand it has been years since anything over 5lbs has come out of the lake.
We arrived at the cottage late Thursday night and my boy was adamant about getting rigged up for an early morning fish. He had a funny looking crank bait that he had gotten in a “Mystery Tackle Box” and he wanted me to tie it on. I gladly did and he was ready to go. He woke me up at the crack of dawn and we hit the water. We got into a bunch of small bass in the 1lb range. They may as well have been 15lbers for my boy as he was casting, hooking and landing them on his own for the first time ever. The smile on his face and his reaction to every bite and every fish were priceless. It was a proud moment for me watching him do his thing. We headed in after about 2.5 hours for breakfast after what was a great morning on the water.
As dinner time rolled around my son was begging me to take him out again for an evening fish before bedtime. We struck some kind of bargain and I agreed that I would take him out for a quick trip before bed. He asked me if he could try one of his worms this time around. I was more than happy to oblige him and he decided on a 4 inch green pumpkin Senko which I Texas rigged for him. I told him to gather his stuff and meet me at the dock. I had to get some bug spray, a couple of beverages and what not so he went ahead. As I walked towards the screen door I heard him yell “I got one Dad!”. I guess he got impatient and started casting off the end of the dock while waiting for slow old Dad. I looked out the door across the deck and I saw his rod doubled over and him reeling like a mad man. I didn’t think much of it as every fish to him at this point was super exciting. I made my way off the deck and turned towards the dock when I saw the fish break water. It looked big, in fact a little too big for this lake. I picked up the pace a little and as I approached the dock I could hear the drag squealing. I was sure I set the drag the previous day but thought maybe I was mistaken. As I walked out on the dock the fish came up for a second jump and my knees buckled a little. It was a giant! I ran to the end of the dock and told my boy to point his rod tip down and keep the line tight while still reeling. I guess ignorance is bliss as he was way more calm at this point then I was. The fish was about 20 feet out from the dock at this point. My boat was tied off to the left side of the dock and our family pontoon was tied off on the right side of the dock. Both were major problems if the fish got close and took him either way. His 8lb test line wouldn’t stand a chance against either boat or the dock poles. The fish was close now about 10 feet out from the dock and I made the decision to jump in the water. Its only about 4 feet deep there and I wasn’t going to let this fish break him off if I could avoid it. I told him to point the rod towards me and guide it over if he could. He handled it great and I grabbed the line right as the fish decided to make another run. I held tight and was able to quickly get a thumb and finger on his bottom lip. I pulled it up out of the water and headed back to the dock. I told my son to take the fish with both hands on his bottom lip and hold him while I climbed back up. He grabbed the fish and held on for dear life. I jumped back up and the fish was landed. (Best guess is this fish has to be about 15-20 years old given the growing season and climate up here)
I was emotional, my boy was emotional. By this time his brother, mother, uncle, and grandparents had made their way down to the dock and they were cheering and clapping. Everyone was so excited. I think I will be able to look back on that exact moment and describe it as the moment my son became an angler for life. These are the moments that make this sport so great.
Oh yeah the we put the fish on the scale and it kept bouncing back and forth between 5’15 and 6’1. We decided an even 6lbs was appropriate. Here are a couple of pics of my boy with the fish. The smile on his face says it all. Thanks for reading!