Fishing is about making memories that follow us our entire lives. Some of my fondest recollections are that of fishing with my Grandfathers, sometimes nothing more than sitting on a lake bank in rural East Tennessee on a bright sunny day catching bluegills and carp. Other times we would fish all night from the highway bridges that spanned the section of the Tennessee River near my home. Then there is another memory of catching that first wall hanger bass, a 4 ½ pounder at age thirteen. Or the 40th birthday gift Mom gave me of a long ago picture of me at 3 years old holding my first bass.
Last Spring, I had the opportunity to take my neighbor’s third grade son fishing. On many days I would return from fishing and find young Mike waiting to see if I had caught anything or watch me filet Perch. As soon as I would unhook the boat, he’s climb in and look in the live wells or ask questions about how all the electronics work. You see, I have one of those go fast bass boats with four different electronic units that can tell where you are and what the bottom looks like in 3D. Finally one day I asked the dumb and obvious question “Hey Mike, you want to go fishing after school one day.” Huh, you know the answer. So the plan was set, “have a good report from your teacher tomorrow and you can go fishing” informed his Dad. Yep, the next day a stellar report from his teacher and off we go.
Loading up his tackle box, ultra-light fishing pole and life jacket we head out. Note: New York law requires all children age of 12 or under to wear a like jacket at all times while on a boat. Along with putting the boat in at the Westport ramp came rapid fire questions about where we were going and what we were going to catch. I finally got the boat launched, Mike zipped up in his life jacket and off we went heading for Button Bay. I knew the smallmouth were staging for pre-spawn and there are many rock piles along the bank. It was time to prove the wacky senko technique would work. Knowing Mike had never been on a boat before I took it easy at very modest 30 mph…no way…..”hammer it” he says. Now, Mike only weighs a soaking wet 65 lbs. and anything faster than 50 mph I figured he would blow right out of the boat. The laughing and giggling was endless the whole 5 minute it took to cross the lake.
Now the real challenge began, Mike had never cast his rod and reel. We took several minutes for some quick lessons on casting an open faced spinning reel. Not bad, he was a quick learner. Now the real task, “cast to that big rock pile Mike”, zoom right on target.” Let it sink, watch your line, wind up the slack” I instruct. Tick goes the line and off it streaks; I’m yelling Reel! Reel! and sure enough Mike winds like crazy holding on for dear life with a big pull on the end of his line. Suddenly it explodes, as do smallmouth everywhere, jumping two feet out of the water. Now Mike’s yelling and winding. He gets that smallmouth to the side of the boat and I go to grab it, but Mike has seen too many bass fishing shows, jumping the fish right in the boat just like the Pros. Whooping and hollering for the next few minutes was expected. After a quick lesson on holding a fish, and a few quick pictures it went back in the water. For the next hour we cruise the bank casting and catching, yes even losing some. And after every fish the same question, we aren’t going home yet? Nope Mike, they are still biting.
All good things do have to come to an end and Mike had homework waiting, so another quick boat ride back to Westport and the rest of the story now lives in Memory. Next article