Your first experience is one of the most memorable of all to come. There isn't much I enjoy more than helping to create a first for someone. From my brothers first whitetail with archery to his sons first successful landing of a big largemouth. No matter if he catches a ton more or even if he catches a lot bigger ones, his first will always be his first. That will never change.
Hunter is my nephew and a very intelligent ten year old little man. But, is he up for the challenge? School is out and his first day of summer was to be spent with his uncle for a day of fishing. I went out the evening before and got him all set up with a rod and reel I felt would fit him and handle the task at hand.
His Mother wishes him luck as we hop in the truck and head for water after picking him up bright and early. Even the ride to our first lake was great. We saw deer and even a big old tom out strutting. So naturally, I start making the sounds of a gobble while he gives me the strangest look a small man could muster up. We pull up to the lake, drop the boat, and we're off. First stop, a big pod of bluegill beds I spotted earlier in the season. His first cast into the panfish rich water and instantly he's fighting a gill, and a good one at that. We continued with the gills for a while until he looks at me and says," I want to go fish for bass now." Honestly! A boy after my own heart. He didn't have to tell me twice. I tied up a weightless plastic rig for him and it was on.
He had a few hits but failed to get a good hook set do to the light equipment he was using. I couldn't go with too big of a setup for him because it needed to be comfortable in his small hands. I knew this would be a challenge for the both of us. He's pretty persistent and I know I sure wasn't going to give up. The wind picked up as a front was approaching with rain. We made the call to head for a different body of water that would offer us good fishing as well as plenty of wind cover.
With bellies full of donut balls and beef jerky we scoot across our new lake in search of calm bass filled waters. After I had caught a few average fish I hear him yell from the back deck," I got one!" Turning around just in time to see the bass go air born I remind him to keep control of his rod tip. The fish makes a big run straight under the boat only to break his line. So close, but not close enough. With drizzle and shifting winds we head for a new shoreline.
Uncertain about the new spot I had picked out he begins casting once again. Shortly I hear him again and see him reeling in what looks like a huge ball of weeds. Taking a closer look, yep, amongst the five pounds of moss and curly leaf was a bass attached to his line. Finishing the fight and getting the fish in the boat meant we had done it. Hunters first bass!
Excited for the moment to happen again we carried on. I had a fish blow up on my bait while reeling in to cast again. Pointing out the spot he need to place his bait the anticipation set in. For me! It took a couple trys but when he got it there, wham! The hog had smashed his bait. Boy was the fight on! He was smiling from ear to ear, as was I. Laughing and yelling with excitement the big old bass had been conquered. She was a beauty! High fives all around baby. He did it like a champ. I couldn't have been more proud. For a moment, everything in the world fell into place.
Not only did I get to experience that with him, we now have a new recruit to the bass fishing world. Children say some of the best things our ears will ever hear. They are very blunt with the way they speak not knowing any other way. Hunter said something to me I will never forget and use as self motivation for the rest of my life. He said, " Easy things are boring and challenging things are fun." If you really think about that, it is spot on. Our children are the future for the outdoors. Everyone should be given a chance to experience what our parents and grandparents have preserved for us. Our lakes, our wetlands, and our woods depend on it. Take the little ones fishing and create a first. Give them something that will never change.