Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Take a Kid Fishing – By Jason Houchins



Take a Kid Fishing
We hear this all the time, take a kid fishing, but how many of us do it? When I was a kid I was very fortunate to always have someone take me fishing, it was a way of life for both sides of my family. My dad and mom always took me and my brother fishing, they couldn’t leave us home, and they were going. If they were working then one of our two sets of grandparents took us fishing, we were blessed more than we knew at the time. It didn’t matter what type of fishing, we just went. We fished for everything and all of our adventures were made enjoyable by whoever we were with. I few stories I have will last forever in my mind and will always seem just like yesterday.
I remember when I couldn’t wait to get home from school, sometimes Papaw James was waiting for me with the Jon boat already in the truck. I would get off the bus and jump strait into the truck and we would head for Raven’s Woods. That was actually an area on the Occoquan River where we fished, but to our inner circle Raven’s Woods was what we called it. Once we arrived it only took a minute to slide the 12’ boat out, unhook the battery from the truck, put it in the boat, and we were off. The old 10 horse Johnson pushed that boat like a dream, it ran perfect with me on the bow as we twisted and turned through the winding river. Papaw would hook the Shakespeare trolling motor to the battery from the truck and we just hoped when we got back we had enough juice to start the truck. It didn’t matter, we were fishing, and if the truck didn’t start, we would get a jump.
We always fished one particular area that was an old boy scout camp at River Road. It seemed that was one of Papaw’s special spots that always had fish. He always had the coolest and latest gear for the time, or at least in my world it was. His favorite rod and reel was an Ambassador 55 Cardinal spinning reel with a matching rod. He bought it at Montgomery Wards and talked about how he could cast it down the aisle so good, and that’s why he bought it. On one particular day I remember it was pretty warm and he had selected to fish laydowns on the channel side of the river. The plastic worm was his bait of choice, a Mann’s Jelly worm, electric blue with a pink tale. Wow what fish could resist that bait, it had to work. It was so much better than the generic motor oil color we used all the time. What happened next is legend, and I can still see it in my mind as if it were yesterday.
Papaw pitched the bait under some overhanging bushes where there was a big laydown present. It was more of a log than anything, no limbs and in the shade, a perfect ambush point for Ms. Big Bass. He worked the worm to the top of the log and then slowly drug it down the side. And out of nowhere, there it was, the biggest bass I had ever seen in my life at the time. I don’t know how big it was, but in my mind it had to be some kind of record. She slowly followed the bait over the log, gently sucked it in, and slowly disappeared deeper into the tinted river. Papaw quickly flipped his bail on the reel and let the fish take line He looked at me and asked if I saw it, it was big and he wanted to give her time. I chuckle at this now, but back then for some reason we believed you had to let the fish run with the bait a little before you set the hook. So he gave this one plenty of time and then some. Once he felt the fish had it good he reeled down and gave a giant jerk. It was on! The drag started peeling and he hollered to get the net. I quickly moved toward the net in the center of the V bottom, the net was free and I was ready. As the fish swan back and forth jumping several times and diving deeper after every jump as if to gain steam for the next jump. The end was near and all three of us knew it, but the outcome was still uncertain. The fish came up again but could only manage to get the top half of her giant body above the surface. Suddenly the worm went flying to the other side of the boat and she disappeared into the abyss, it was over. The silence was deafening as we both looked at each other in total disbelief. Finally Papaw looked at me and said he thought he didn’t give her enough time.
Today I still make memories with my Papaw, although he’s slowed a bunch at 80 years old. I’m very lucky to fish with my dad all the time as well and I have just really began to realize just how fortunate I am. Now I also have a new fishing buddy, my daughter Anna. She really makes me realize how I need to focus more on fishing time with her and hopefully she will enjoy it like her dad, so far she seems to. Some of my fondest memories in life were made on the water as a child. Please don’t under estimate the value of just one day fishing and the affect it could have on anyone, especially a kid. If you get a chance to take a kid fishing, please do. The rewards are amazing and can last a lifetime.

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