Starting them young

I am proud of the fact that my son started catching fish on his own at the age of 2.  It was two months before his 3rd birthday and we were visiting family in the town where I was raised.  We headed to the lake with a couple rods and a can of nightcrawlers and sat down on the end of a public dock. I put half of a nightcrawler on his hook and I handed him his rod. He pushed the button on his Zebco reel and let the bait fall over the edge of the dock and into the water.

Now my son still has a hard time being patient but back then I dont think the bobber even touched the water before he was reeling his bait back up. I would say “Buddy you got to wait til your bobber gets pulled under before you reel it back up.” He would look at me and nod or say “Okay Daddy,” but the next time he dropped his bait the result was the same.

Now I know there were bluegill and perch sitting underneath us  begging like a hungry dog for a taste of our nightcrawlers, but right before they could get it in there mouth it was snatched away. It only took about five minutes of this before I figured out what I needed to do. I took the bobber off of his line and added a big split shot before handing the rod back to him.

He hit the button on his reel dropping the bait again. This time however, the bait dropped faster. I think even he was caught off guard at how much line was going out.  He starting winding in again as he remembered what he was there to do when all of the sudden he felt a jerk. A visible jolt in his body made me grab him by the waist to prevent him from getting pulled in, but I never touched the rod. This was his battle to win or lose on his own.

I could see the line going to the left, and then back to the right as I coached him. “Reel buddy reel!” He fought the fish fumbling with the reel. When the fish finally got pulled to the surface he struggled but was just able to lift his catch up onto the dock. It was not a big fish, but it was the biggest (and obviously the first) fish he had ever caught.

He caught a few more fish that day. Some were bigger, and some were smaller, but none were as monumental as that first fish. It was that fish, that hungry little bluegill, that made my son a real angler!

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