Contributed by Chris Ritchie
A few days ago, I got it in my mind that I HAD to go buy some new tackle. You know what I’m talking about. That moment where you walk into your garage and no matter how much gear you already have you stare at your stuff and wonder to yourself, “How am I ever going to catch anything with this garbage?” I loaded up the wife and kids in the family mini van and drove up to the big Bass Pro HQ in Springfield, Missouri and commenced to throwing things into the cart, all the while giving my wife chest pain. Soon I had a pretty good collection of crank baits and other things going when my 5 year old son asks for me to buy him a toy. I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal and was only fair since I was spending a good amount of money on myself. He proceeded to throw the $40 cheap plastic truck in the cart and continued on with his shenanigans while carrying a big smile on his face. Soon we walked up on the rod and reel combos when suddenly he noticed that they had an Avengers fishing pole that he HAD to have! Well, I wasn’t about to let him have both so I made him choose. Surprisingly, he chose the rod and reel but only under the condition that I would take him fishing.
Several days go by and I have been out on the water at least twice since I bought him his new rod and reel. I bought a new Jackson Kayak Coosa HD and every single chance that I got to get out was not taken for granted. I would bolt out the door, eager to get that thing pushed off and into the water finding out more and more each time what a joy that boat is to paddle. But, each time I would return home my son would be waiting at the door for me, wondering when I was going to take him out with me.
Finally the day arrived. I was going to go fishing early that morning but it had cooled down a bunch over night and there was more fog than what I’m comfortable with when I know that there will be boats out so I waited. As I realized that the conditions were improving enough to maybe have some luck, I also realize that my boy was about to get home from school. They only had a half day of school for some reason. I began loading up the boat, fishing gear, PFDs and a few snacks and waited for him to get off of the bus. I was excited to be going with him, but at the same time I knew that I wouldn’t be getting much fishing done since he will require a lot of maintenance.
We pile into the truck after a traumatic 30 minutes of trying to find clothes and shoes that we wouldn’t mind him getting muddy in and head off toward the lake. As we pull in I can see movement all over the water. It looks like it could be a really good day of fishing but I know that I won’t be able to fish much anyway, so I try to concentrate on getting everything set up and ready to paddle. We get in the water and paddle out about 300 yards. He is elated just to be out there in the kayak at this point. I remove the front console of my Coosa HD and set my son in the front while I’m tying on his lure. We have practiced a lot over the past two years and he has been able to cast a small crappie sized crank bait since he was about three years old so my hope was that everything would be good to go after I got his lure tied on.
I get him set up and situated and then begin tying on my lure. I cast out and BAM! The very first cast of the day produces a very respectable 5.9lb large mouth. He is absolutely beside himself, thinking that was the coolest thing that he had ever witnessed. I was excited also! How awesome is that!?!?! I wouldn’t make but five more casts the rest of the night because I spent the rest of the time unwinding line, retying lures and dodging hooks. Things got even more interesting when my son dropped his new fishing pole into the lake and it sunk to the bottom. He was not very happy at all! Thankfully, his crankbait floated and I was able to grab it and pull his rod and reel up out of the water that way.
Normally I would be mad about a day of fishing turning out like this but not today. As I started to load up my gear I noticed that my son was sitting there watching my every move and I began to realize, he may be five now but my time with him is limited. Before I know it he will be graduating high school and moving away. While that will afford me some more time for fishing, being a dad and getting to take my boys fishing with me is one of the greatest unrealized treasure that I have ever been given! Take your kids fishing! You may not catch many fish but you will catch the admiration of your children and I’m not sure that there is much better than that!