Awhile back I had the opportunity to take 4 ten year old boys out to experience salmon fishing from shore. I couldn't wait to share my fishing passion with these young men. Now these are real boys, burping, laughing, running, yelling video game playing boys. The plan was to take them up to Port Washington WI and use 3 way swivel bottom bouncing rigs to pull some of the last eatable salmon coming in from Lake Michigan.
We started out the door at 3am to work our way up state so we could secure our spot on the harbor wall by 4:30am. This was no small feat when you consider that I last heard the boys laughing and talking around midnight. Finally on the road I found myself alone with my thoughts as all 4 boys quickly fell back asleep for the 2 hour trip. When we arrived at our destination I found that we had just made it in time and would be in a good location as we saw fish rising in the darkness. The tributaries of Lake Michigan have start time restrictions and that gave me time to chat with the locals and finish rigging up all 5 rods by headlamp. The boys were busy running around and watching the fish jump from the rail. Just kidding, they are video game playing boys so while I tied knots and weights, they played video games huddled around a lone tablet.
While the boys stayed busy shooting zombies I finished baiting up and listening to the chatter on the wall. Stories of big fish caught and the smell of coffee filled the air and I was getting extremely restless waiting in the dark. Finally the signal was given and we all stood shoulder to shoulder and dropped our lines into the water. With in a few minutes one of the boys got a bite and in his excitement snagged my line. That brought the other boys over to see what was going on and soon we had all 5 lines tangled. As I calmly lit a cigarette and started cutting the rigs apart I realized that the standard 3way wasn't gonna work if any of us wanted to actually to catch a fish. With 5 knots per rig I was looking at a case of carpal tunnel syndrome by noon. I had to think of better i.e. faster way to effectively get these boys fishing. I decided a standard sliding weight rig was the way to go since 1 knot was faster than 5. I was right and soon we were back in the hunt. Lots of lost fish later and way to many smiles to count I was again tying up rigs. By this point I was tying up palomar knots to the weights and snells perfection looped through the dipsy sinker. We were having fun the boys were starting to wander.
One thing I have learned from fishing with my kids and teaching kids to fish through scouts (both cub scouts and girl scouts) is that they need to be allowed to be kids. I can get pretty intense and serious when I am fishing. That usually spells disaster when kids go fishing. They need time to explore, get loud, talk, laugh and sometimes they fish too. The boys wandered down the harbor wall and spent a lot of time running off to see the fish others were catching. They were having so much fun I almost forgot one of the boys was still fishing.
Now this was when the day got interesting. The boys were down fishing the bridge that crosses the river, casting and eating all my doughnuts. The sudden yelling got everybody's attention and sent me running down the wall and across the bridge. I couldn't believe the sight I was seeing, here was one of my scouts with his ultralight panfish pole hooked into a 25 pound salmon and giving that 6 pound line the work out of a lifetime. The fight went on for almost 20 minutes! The people on the wall were cheering him on and he was so in the moment that at one point he almost fell through the railing on the bridge. I tried to keep him calm and reminded him to breathe when he would turn red. The fish was eventually landed and the smiles and high fives were infectious. Do to the condition of the fish we decided to release it because the meat wouldn't be very good. He agreed that if it was already rotting alive it probably wouldn't be good dead. Everybody on the wall congratulated him as we worked our way back to our spot. He proudly exclaimed that it was the biggest fish he has ever caught and I quickly set about getting photos and texting the surely proud parents.
|Now that's a proud kid!|
Once we all calmed down we set out about fishing again, the bite was starting to slow and the boys were getting restless. I asked them if they were ready to go and they said almost. What they meant was they were busy poking dead salmon and will be ready soon. I started gathering up the gear and loading it back in the car to head to Madison. We grabbed the stringer with the fish we had caught, a nice female brown full of eggs and a very tasty salmon, and headed to the cleaning station. We hung the fish and gathered for a photo.
Fillets and eggs bagged up we took one last walk around the wall and talked about the fun we had. As a father and Cubmaster I never fail to be impressed by the intelligence of our youth. They have an amazing way of showing us that life is meant to be enjoyed not trudged through. Until next time please take a kid fishing. You may just create the spark that starts a fire.