All of this unexpected time at home overlapped with my daughter Rose’s second birthday, and I figured it was the perfect time to get her out on the water and introduce her to the sport I love. She’d been preparing for it on her own, with a little pink rod and reel that we’d bought and a mini tacklebox. The package came with the world’s worst spinning reel, and I couldn’t stand to see her try to use that thing, so I went out to the store and dropped 50 bucks on a little Daiwa spinning reel instead.
I don’t really remember my first fishing trip. In fact, I don’t remember much before the age of 5, but my dad told me that he took me out on the boat when I was about 3, and I reached over, grabbed a lily pad and got pulled out of the boat. All of a sudden, all he could see were my shoes hanging off the jon boat.
With that legend in mind, I took extra precautions with Rose. Of course she wore a lifejacket, and we also used my duck boat instead of my Bass Cat. It has taller rails which would hopefully keep her inside and dry.
My father came along with us. I had mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it was another set of eyes to keep Rose safe and entertained. On the other hand, he was pretty rough on me when I first started fishing. We were crappie fishing one time when I was a kid, using a steel leader under a bobber. I cast my whole rig into a tree, broke it off and retied without the leader. Then a giant pike came along and broke the whole deal off. He tends to run pretty hot, and he yelled at me a bunch. Luckily, he’s mellowed since then, especially around Rose.
Our lakes around here are just loaded with bluegill, so I figured we’d get out there and catch a ton of them in a hurry and go home. Unfortunately the fish had other plans. I thought we’d catch one every 10 seconds and she’d be thrilled, but for some reason they didn’t want to bite. All we caught was one little pike. Not the introduction to fishing that I wanted to give her, but probably a good introduction to the sport’s occasional disappointments. Anyway, she’s only 2. I’m not sure if more action would’ve translated into more enjoyment. She was pretty happy to play with that crappy little tackle kit for about two hours before getting bored and asking to go home.
That’s about what I expected from her. She’s a true 2-year-old little girl. She loves her toys, she loves puppies most of all, and she’s happy to watch Moana endlessly on repeat. I didn’t expect her to get out there and start flinging a baitcaster and begging to go back. I knew better than that. For me, bass fishing didn’t really start to click until I was maybe 10 or 12 years old. There’s time for her to get excited about it, and if that doesn’t happen I can live with it.
Despite the realization that Rose may never love fishing as much as I do, I still dream of her fishing some Wednesday-nighters with me when she’s 8 or 10 years old. It’s a perfect time for parents to share the great outdoors with their kids, and I hope she’ll recognize how happy my passion makes me.