The beauty of youth

This past weekend I had a wonderful experience that I want to talk about. I was getting ready to go fishing when my phone rang. It was Terry Segraves. He works with a local youth group that was having a tournament on Toho that day. He needed adult boaters. Without a second thought I said yes, turned my rig around and headed towards their ramp.

I absolutely love kids' events, especially the kind Terry’s involved with. It’s one where the kids do all the fishing and only their fish count at the weigh-in. The adults can help all they want, but in the end it’s a kids' tournament. That keeps the adults from getting too serious about things. It stays good-natured.

When I arrived at the ramp I was introduced to David, my angler for the day. He was polite, mannerly and ready to go. Unfortunately, that was not to be. The fog was as thick as pea soup. It didn’t lift until after 10 a.m. It was an especially painful wait given that the weigh-in was scheduled for 1 p.m. But, when it did lift we made the best of our time.

Throwing a Tiny Torpedo, one of my favorite all-time lures, my young man caught his first keeper almost immediately. I didn’t have a net in the boat so I had to help him land them by hand. That went well enough except for when I rammed a hook in my thumb. (Note to other anglers: They don’t come out all that easy once they penetrate below the barb.) When all was said and done, David finished second.

After the weigh-in we all ate hamburgers, showed the kids our boats and our tackle and generally talked fishing. The beauty of youth never ceases to amaze me. They’re positive and inquisitive, two qualities I admire in any group of human beings and two qualities that’ll get you far in life. I wish there was a way to make all our kids think and act that way.

I think if we could take all of them fishing on a regular basis it would help. It’s almost impossible not to feel better after a day on the water. There’s just something about it that makes all the negative things in life seem less important.

Anyway, that’s my weekend story. It just makes me feel good to see something like that and to be a part of it. You know, those kids had a good day and will have a positive view of fishing for the rest of their lives even if they don’t fish much, or at all. That’s what our sport really needs. We don’t need to preach to the choir. They’re already converted.

For our sport to thrive, we need everyone to think about fishing the way I think about golf. I don’t play and wouldn’t go to a lot of effort to learn. Nevertheless, I don’t want to stop anyone from playing and I recognize that golf courses are an important asset to a community, and so are our rivers, lakes and reservoirs, along with the men and women who fish them.

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