Talk about your fish stories. Do I have one for you!
I have lived near the Mississippi River for most of my life. My grandpa was a commercial fisherman for a while. He died when I was two. So there was never a chance for him to take me fishing. Me? I could care less about fishing. I had done it once or twice when I was little, but I had no plans of ever doing it again. Then one day my daughter Karina told me that she wanted to go fishing sometime. Where she got the idea? I don't know. It really doesn't matter because now I had to figure out a way to take her fishing. Mind you, I have no fishing equipment whatsoever!
This is where my cousin Sid comes into the picture. I was over at his house, trading shot glasses, and he tells me that he has to take his boys fishing that weekend. Then I told him that Karina wanted to go fishing. He invited me to go with them. So we looked at the schedule and decided that Aug. 14, was a good date to go. This was a tournament for kids to compete for various prizes. I wasn't too worried about that. I just wanted to give Karina a chance to fish.
Aug. 14 came up,and just like on Christmas, she had no problem getting out of bed. Imagine that! To a four-year-old, this is big stuff. I should be honest and say that it was big stuff for me, too. Never did I imagine that I would take my kids fishing, especially my girls. Not that there is anything wrong with a girl fishing. I just always associated it with being a guy thing.
We finally made it to the lake where the tournament was being held. Sid and his family showed up, and then we went to a spot that he had picked out. We had to walk quite a ways through the woods. Karina never did complain. I am learning that she is more of an outdoor person than I am. More than likely she gets it from her mother's side.
Then we got to the spot where we were going to fish. Karina refused to put the bait on the hook. I can't say that I blame her. I did it for her, and it was not all that much fun. But it is something that has to be done. She also refused to bite the head of her first catch. It didn't take long before she got a bite. She pulled it in near the shore, but it got away. It was a tiny bluegill. Sid hated to see that one get away. He figured that it would have almost guaranteed her the award for the smallest fish caught.
But throughout the next four hours, she caught three more bluegill, and each time she wanted to touch them. I was so excited for her. The big thrill came when we switched to night crawlers and she caught 2 bullhead catfish. When the whistle sounded, marking the end of the tournament, we took her fish to get them weighed in. She ended up catching the smallest fish and was only 4 ounces from taking the big fish award too. Overall, she won second place for total weight in her age group, in which she got a nice plaque.
The strangest catch of the day could be referred to as either a "log salmon" or "fish stick". There seemed to be something tugging at her line. I told her to reel it in. In the difficult time that she had doing so, I thought that it could be a big one. But as it got closer to shore, some of it came out of the water. My daughter had caught her first branch.
It was a good day. Father and daughter had a good time. When asked if she wanted to go fishing again, the answer was yes. So we loaded up the car and went to another tournament on Aug. 21. She caught the same number of fish, three bluegill and two bullhead catfish. This time she caught the largest fish in her age group. Overall she finished 3rd in total weight. She got another plaque and some more fishing equipment.
What does the future hold for this fishing duo? Well to start out, we have to get two poles and all the accessories. Then we can go down to the river and various ponds and practice our fishing techniques. Maybe we can get Mom and Stephanie (1) to go with us. The tournaments are over for this year. But if she is still interested, we will go to more tournaments next year.
As parents, we agree on not to push our kids into anything, but we will try to help them do the things that they are interested in. Even if it means doing something that you never imagined yourself doing, like fishing. Maybe Karina has a little bit of her great-grandpa in her.
June 17, 2000
Tis the season to go fishing. For her birthday, we bought her a fishing pole and various equipment. Both of us practiced casting in our back yard. I am starting to get the hang of it. Today was the first tournament that she competed in this year. I was told that there would be no problem catching fish up in Laharpe. All I had to do was put a little ole wax worm on the hook and bingo - a fish will be had. If memory serves me correctly, Karina caught a fish before she had the pole in the water for two minutes. It was great fun for both of us. I would bait and cast and then she would reel them in. All in all, she caught 41 fish. That's right!!!! 41. When it came time for awards, she got second place for the smallest fish in her age bracket. She picked out a very nice tackle box for the prize.
I even got to catch one. Towards the end of the tournament, she was getting a little bored. Four hours is a long time for a kid her age to fish. Even when she catching them left and right. So when I cast the bait, she took off to talk with her cousins. This left me stuck with the pole. Before I knew it, I had snagged me one. Of course I wasn't allowed to keep it. That would have been cheating. Yep!!! A good day all around. I am actually beginning to look forward to the next event.
August 5, 2000
The last two events we went to both involved fishing in the good ole Mississippi River. She did not catch a single fish in either tournament. However, since she was the only one in her age group in the first event, she won first place by default. Karina is so proud of her trophy. She got bored because she wasn't catching any fish, but she did stick it out. So she can feel good about that.
The following week was also disappointing. For the second week in a row she didn't catch any fish. Ingrid's parents came by and visited, so that made the day did go by a little easier. She was on the verge of quitting, but I talked her out of it. Just because things aren't going as smoothly as you would like, doesn't mean you should quit. She stuck it out, and when the prizes were passed out, she won a fishing pole. (All kids get something at these tournaments.) So now we can go fishing together. I believe that is what she wanted all along.
This week's event was at a lake. I figured her chances were a lot better. It didn't start out very well, but it was worth it. We were there for about a half hour and it started to rain. We ran to the shelter house. There was a boy who decided to quit, so he got his package of prizes early. When Karina saw that, she wanted to quit. I told her that she could quit, but she couldn't have any prizes. This may seem hard on her, but I don't want her to be a quitter. So she decided to stick it out. My cousin's boy came by and weighed in the fish that he had caught. When I saw that he had about 20 compared to Karina's none, I decided to move close to them. It worked! Within just a few minutes, she got about 3 fish. Then it started to rain again. Fortunately, her mom had sent Karina's raincoat along. There were about 3 or 4 rain delays throughout the morning, but it didn't matter now, there were fish to be caught. She had 16 fish when it got really interesting. A little bit earlier in the day, my cousin Sid yelled to me that a cottonmouth snake was headed towards us. This, of course, put me on full alert. I am not a big fan of snakes. Finally, I saw one go by us, so I thought that we would be okay. Little did I realize that there were at least two of them.
Karina was reeling in what looked like her biggest catch of the day. I am guessing that it was at least 6 inches long. We will never know. By the time Karina got it to the shoreline, another snake came after it. I immediately grabbed the pole and kept the fish out by the water. The snake was more interested in the fish than it was in us. I yelled at Sid, and he came and tried to distract it. It was working for a little while, when low and behold, the fish fell off the hook. It was a mutual agreement to let the snake have the fish. The snake promptly took it and disappeared. Was this the end? No!! The next time Karina reeled her hook in, the snake came back. It must have thought that we were a buffet! We tried to chase it away, but we could tell that it was not going to give in to us. By this time, I decided to give this piece of land to the snake. All in all, Karina got 18 fish. She won first place in her age group, and she also caught the biggest fish in her age group. I guess that shows that you need to be ready for anything at all times.
August 12, 2000
A return to the first fishing tournament. Last year, this was the tournament that started it all. We have come a long ways since then. Last year, we went empty handed. This year, we have all the supplies a person needs to be a successful fisherman. After we finally got set up, she caught one small fish. She wanted to weight it in. I told her that she shouldn't expect to weight in every fish that she caughts. It is much better to weight them all in at the end of the day. Well, unfortunately, we had the time. The fish weren't biting much. Karina caught 5 fish today. The same total she had last year. She finished with 3rd place and she caught the biggest fish for her age group.
August 26, 2000
The semi-finals have arrived. We returned to the lake with the cottonmouth. Same as the last time, we had a rain delay. But fortunately, we did not see any snakes. She caught a total of 7 fish. It would have been one more, but we lost it at the shore. I managed to fall into the water going after it. You just never know what will happen at these things. She qualified to be in the Classics in May of 2001. I am told that all the fishermen are taken out in boats for that event. That should prove to be interesting for her. For now the season is over. We would both like the idea of just the two of us going out sometime.
Last updated - April 14, 2003