- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2008

It was summer vacation time; school was out and the boys leaned hard on their grandfather.

“You promised to take us fishing, Poppie,” said Jake, 10, as his brother Lane, 6, nodded. “Yeah, feeshin’,” he said, pouting and pulling his bill cap even farther down into his face.

The Guy family of Clements, Md., came to the rescue. They’ve raised children of their own and know how tough it is to take care of two rambunctious boys while sitting in a boat.

“Come down to our farm pond,” said Francis and his father, Al, agreed. “They can walk around the shoreline and catch a fish or two. They’ll be safe there.”

The Guys were right. The biggest threat at the pond perhaps was the chance of slipping on finger-long deposits left on the grass by a local gaggle of Canada geese who are convinced they own the place.

The boys’ mother stuffed a couple of sodas and snacks into a bag; my bride strapped the boys into the backseat of the family jalopy and during the drive I provided outrageous advice for the kids, asking them to be careful and not hook a “snark” while at the pond. It didn’t fool Jake. “You told me that one before,” he said with a grin. “It’s supposed to be a cross between a snake and a shark, but I know there is no such thing. You can’t scare me.” His brother chimed in, “Yeah, you can’t scare me either.”

When we arrived at the farm pond, I cut up a juicy night crawler and put a piece of it on the hook of the boys’ fishing outfits. Each of the lads owns a small spinning reel attached to a 4 1/2-foot light rod. A small, snelled hook was tied to the 8-pound test monfilament line that filled their reels. An inch-long piece of nightcrawler was pushed over the hook barbs and a thumb tip-sized bobber was attached to the line no more than three feet above the bait.

“I’m not catching anything,” complained Lane, who had to be reminded that his bait had not yet touched the water. But Jake, who knows how to bend his index finger around the line near the reel’s wire-like bail, flip it open and then execute a nice side-arm cast, saw his bright-red float disappear only seconds after it landed on the placid waters. “I got one,” he shouted and soon reeled a well-fed bluegill up onto the grass. We put the fish into a 5-gallon bucket filled with pond water.

“I’m still not catching anything,” said the 6-year-old, Lane. “I want to go to McDonald’s.”

Jake followed his first catch with a 13-inch largemouth bass. “Can I eat it?” he asked and for once it was allowed because the bass had been deep-hooked and might not have survived anyway.

Jake now wanted fresh bait and got it. He soon caught another sunfish and into the bucket it went. The boy had a ball.

Lane eventually caught on to the ways of casting and he set the hook to a fine bluegill. The boy was beside himself.

“I want to eat it,” he shouted and later in the day he would do just that.

Lane did very well, catching a small bass and releasing it, also latching onto more sunfish just like his older brother. But Jake now had his eye on a nearby hedgerow that fairly brimmed with large, juicy blackberries. The boy wanted to pick berries and off he went.

Surprisingly, his younger brother declined at first. “I want to stay here and catch more fish,” he said, but when he spotted his sibling stuffing sweet, ripe berries into his mouth and heard the smacking of lips, he came running.

The boys ate their fill, picked some more to take home to their mother, and then insisted that it was time to visit the local fast food emporium.

Have you thought about introducing your little ones to the joys of fishing, to nature, and all that goes with it - even the inevitable drive-through hamburger joint? If so, be sure that you use a worm-and-bobber rig in waters where you’re almost guaranteed to find a sunfish or perch. The absolute fastest way to have a small child hate fishing is to stick a rod into its hand and ask that he or she cast and retrieve artificial lures all day long. That kind of fishing should come at a later age.

For now, be sure that a fish is caught. Juicy worm baits will accomplish the mission. One more thing: Let the kid decide when to quit; don’t turn the fishing into a chore.

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