Each morning after waking up and eating breakfast, I will ask my daughter, “What do you want to do today?”
In the past, I have received a few different responses, but the most common one was “Outside, park.” Since our wonderful Father’s Day outing in which we purchased her first fishing pole and went to White Pines Lake for a trial run, the response has changed to, “Outside, fishing, my pole.”
These words put a smile on my face, as I know that we are headed back to the lake time and time again to make fishing memories. The last trip was a hookless casting mission. But on this day, we are in search of my daughter’s first fish.
With our Disney “Tangled” pole and a handful of gear, we set off to the mountain lake, a stone’s throw away from my childhood home. This small scenic lake holds a fond place in my heart, as some of my greatest memories were made on these shorelines. It is now time to make the greatest memory of all.
After a short session at the park, we both agreed it was time to try catching a fish. With a float and fly we approached the water quietly. I assisted her with a soft cast, and as the hand-tied fly landed, I was sure that we would be reeling them to us in no time. However, that was not the case.
Our offering was shockingly unappealing to the targeted fish (bluegill), and after a few more casts it was time to make an adjustment. I opened up the fly box and began to select another. At that point, my daughter and I looked through the assortment of feathered hooks that she found very interesting. She quickly understood the process and started to pick out the next to be tied on. Together, settling on a black bead-headed crystal wooly bugger, I attached it to the end of her line.
We flipped the float and fly back out into the water, and it quickly gained attention. I handed the pink princess pole to her as a fish grabbed hold. She lit up with excitement and began to reel it in. She giggled as a fish shook at the end of the line; a feeling that she had never felt. We stood there on the shaded bank and shared a moment of complete happiness. She brought the fish in and I said, “This is your first fish. You did it.”
She replied, “My fish, I did it,” with a grin that will last a lifetime.
We took pictures and admired her catch. She impressed me with her understanding of the sport and the bravery she has for her age. She wanted to hold the fish and after a few seconds, she said the most amazing thing: “Now we let it go.”
I agreed and we watched her first fish swim back into the water. I knew what was coming next and paused and waited for it. The next statement was one that would melt any fisherman’s heart. She looked at me and said what any passionate angler would.
The day had been made and we went back to fishing. A father and daughter sitting on the edge of the lake side-by-side, just fishing. We had another moment of excitement as a giant frog chased the float to our feet and that was the icing on the cake. A fish, a frog and a fun day with Dada; it doesn’t get much better.
Needless to say, we went back the following day and did it all over again. It is quite possibly the most precious bonding time we spend together and sharing the Xperience of fishing with her is priceless.
John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932 or xperiencefishing.net.