(Sometimes) the best time at the water doesn’t involve fishing

John Liechty 

On a Sunday afternoon I found myself loading the truck and getting prepared for yet another trip to New Melones Reservoir. After double- and triple-checking to make sure everything was in place, I was sure I did not forget any crucial items. This was my fourth day in a row driving through town and down the winding road to the water.

But today is much different than the previous days. There was not a single fishing rod or lure in the truck and the boat was still in the garage. Today the essential gear included a diaper bag, jacket, snacks and water. Today was a dada-daughter day and we were headed to the water’s edge. A recreation park unlike no other. There are no swings, slides or jungle gyms. Just sticks, rocks and water. Yeah, that’s my kind of place.

We followed the road along the side of the lake, and she began to show some excitement. Spouting out phrases like, “water, water” and “lake, lake, wee.” This joy is contagious, and I, too, began to anticipate the next couple of hours. After getting out of the truck, we started our walk down the steep banks. She paused and reached up for my hand. As I guided this little pink-coated angel down the rocky slope, I thought to myself, “These are the days.”

As we reached the edge of the lake, I made sure to set a few boundaries, mainly just one, and that was don’t go into the water. She nodded yes and we remained dry. Now for the real fun, throwing rocks into the lake. This may sound like a boring thing to do, but for a 2-year-old, it is probably one of the coolest things imaginable. And as a father, I had a chance to be a kid again and teach my daughter the art of skipping a rock.

We found big rocks, small rocks, flat rocks and round rocks, all of which made a different splash and produced a different reaction. The biggest rocks were a hit. I would find the largest rock I could feasibly lift and hoist it into the water. This effort followed by a tremendous crash sprung a wide-eyed look and bursts of laughter.

As we traversed across the dirt and rock, I realized how simple and how easy this was. We held hands, laughed and played for hours. The sun began to fade and the cold rolled in quickly. We headed back to the truck, feeling satisfied.

Now as we live in a time where technology dictates our every move, it is important to take a step back and think of how ourselves, our parents and our grandparents were raised. We had more hours staring at a lake than a screen and more throws and catches of a ball than messages sent and received. These things I keep in mind when raising a child, and it makes me proud to see my daughter being fascinated by the outdoors, just like her dad.

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932 or xperiencefishing.net.

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