Monday, August 13, 2012

Toddler Fishing v3.3 - Patience

"Daddy, it's dirty."
This summer, a debacle though it's been, has allowed me to think a little bit, well, a lot, about priorities.  About where and how lines are drawn, and boundaries are created.

About what is important and what is not.

One very simple thing I've done is switched my "half" of Hank's day care "equation" with my son - instead of seeing him often for just a rushed 60-minute period in the mornings and for a few minutes right before bed, I now skip the mornings and pick him up from day care by 530pm, almost every day.

A great exercise now encapsulated in most every afternoon has been that of toddler whimsy.  "Hey Bug, What Do You Want to Do Now?"  Since my truck is fully geared up (aka "a nasty mess"), it means that we have what we need for  a quick trip to our neighborhood lake, the community garden, or a quick run at the ball fields.  This requires patience in itself, for three year olds are fickle beings.

It takes a certain type of person to appreciate
fishing a $200 fly rod alongside a $9 Spider Man rod
And so, to fishing.  In a longwinded sort of way. At least once a week, Hank proclaims that in some combination, he wants a hot dog, he wants to go fishing, and he wants a lemonade.  A convenience store between Day Care and The Lake offers us a chance at lemonade made with organic lemons, organic cane sugar, and no preservatives, sold alongside hot dogs made with a variety of parts of a variety of species of animals, solidified in a paste of unknown preservatives and God Knows What genetically modified whatever, cooked by unknown means and kept warm by methods that are dubiously sanitary at best.  Sounds perfect, right?

Hank is closing in on three.  He's taller.  Faster.  So fast now, that he winds himself after exploding into the woods or down the shoreline of a pond.  He takes direction, as long as it is provided beforehand, and calmly.  And he wants to stick closer by.  These are not things that I could have taught, but they make our time outdoors much easier for me, and no less fun for Hank.  But it still requires patience.

First, we run.  We explore.  I carry all of the gear - and cookies in reserve.

Hank's favorite spot at the lake (other than the fishing platform by the parking lot) is this sandy gully.
It's out of the way from where we fish, but I always oblige his curiosity.

Spot #2 for the win!
Now, given that a three hour read about a two hour fishing trip is now considered "great writing" in today's fly fishing magazines of note, I still have a fishing story to tell.

 If I listened to the seriously high quality fishing/parenting advice doled out to me by the likes of Mike Sepalak and Howard Levvitt, I might be farther ahead in learning how to fish with a toddler.  But what fun would that be? Hopefully they'll both read this and see their advice reflected here.

I picked out two places to try fishing with Hank on this 95 degree evening.  One was the mouth of the spring creek where I caught this bass a few months ago.  Tons of fish.  Great spot. The other spot was farther upstream in the spring creek, and where I'd never caught a respectable fish, but also never not caught a fish.  If you follow.

The first spot was a bust.  Knowing to minimize my gear for a toddler fishing trip, I had only a few hoppers and my 6'0" 5wt Cabela's TQR.  Hey, late July, you know?  However, the cover was way to thick to effectively cast - even roll cast - and Hank was bored almost instantly (equals rock throwing).   The shoreline was muddy which provided Hank with quick amusement (getting dirty), immediately fading to frustration (wanting to not be dirty).  With fish visible in the water, I abandoned the first spot after only about five minutes.  Yup.  That's how quick you have to be with the little guys and gals.

Spot #2 required a little pre-game conference about throwing rocks, listening to Daddy, and being careful on the rocks.  Those conference call items did not go over well with Hank, who thought he was in trouble, despite my overly soft delivery.  The little ones are touchy around dinnertime.

Heckler / student

Reaching deep into my vast well of parenting skills, I asked the tired but less frantic Hank, "Can you please sit on that rock if I give you some cookies?"


Hey, don't judge.

The brief parenting break allowed me to slang around some fly line and the greenies immediately obliged.  Sitting in cold water in the shade on a hot day, these guys were starving.    Hank could care less about the first fish.  Mildly interested in the second fish.  After the third fish, he turned around and watched me, demanding, "Catch another fish!"

The action on sub-6 inch green sunfish was hot and heavy - a statement I'd be afraid to make in any other situation.  In about 40 minutes of fishing Spot #2, I caught about 30 fish.  Hank wanted to be in charge of letting each one go, which was great to see, if a bit perilous for the fish.  Finally, it came.

"Daddy, I wanna go home."

That was good enough for me, so we headed back to the truck.

No big fish.  No frowns.  All big smiles.

Yes, I know the kid is cuter.  Thanks.


Doc Outlaw said...

Ah yes, the joys of fishing with kids! I love being out with my girls, but if the fish aren't cooperating, they get bored fast. Yesterday I took my girls out and they had three snagged hooks and a massive tangle on one of their reels, before I could get my line in the water. By my third cast they were done. I'll have to try bringing a bribe of some kind like the cookies; might buy me some time.

BrookfieldAngler said...

I'm taking notes. LOL

Steve Zakur said...

Now that seems like a perfect evening!

K. Vega said...

Hi, this post was cute (and so true on toddler activities) but what brought me to your blog was your post about a year ago on your Cooper AT3's, I don't know if you frequent jeep forums, but they often sit around lamenting that you have not done a follow-up review, so I thought I'd come over here and let you know there is definite interest!

Kirk Mantay said...

K Vega - I was already thinking about doing that, and wondering if there would be any interest. Look for that in the next few weeks and thanks for letting me know!

Doc, Nick, and Steve - this is a funny learning process, and one where it's easy to be "right" or "wrong" by doing nearly identical things. Humbling!

T. Brook Smith said...

Nothing. Better.

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