One of the greatest experiences is teaching little ones to fish. In the beginning, it is about teaching them the basics, safety around water, in a boat and on ice, how to bait a hook, how to set a hook, how to reel, and how to take the fish off the line without injuring themselves or the fish. Teaching them about why you put some back, so they are not upset when they have to put a fish back they worked so hard to reel in. Then its getting them on to a pile of fish to catch, and then them catching that "fishing fever". Little ones only know they want to catch fish and they easily get bored if the fish are not biting. So you want them catching, doesn't matter the species, as long as they are catching. A weekend ago, I got to spend the weekend with Amber's grandchildren and it was their first time Ice Fishing! We hummed and hawed over taking them out on the big lake where they would catch some big fish. However, they are busy little guys,,,,,, and we decided that we would try a much smaller lake this time. I knew a spot that was pretty well sheltered from the breeze and where they could catch an unlimited amount of perch, as well as, the sled ride in would be an adventure for the boys.
David - (the boy's uncle) and I got up early and headed into the lake, pre-drilled some holes, and unloaded gear, then Amber arrived with the boys at the parking spot, I sledded out and picked them up. Sure shooting - the boys were excited to ride on the sled. The minute we got to the ice - the boys started in with questions, and I have to say they listened intently. They followed around and helped set the traps. Eben the oldest being 9, wanted to try jigging smelt. It proved to be a harder feat, as he wanted to jig before he felt a bite. I would say about an hour and he was jigging like a pro. He caught over 60 smelt, I have to laugh because lots of times, I'm sitting out their jigging my limit and I'll hear a voice outside the shack, "" not biting great today are they?" It is usually the voice of an adult that is out their fishing smelt and most generally I am well on my way to having a limit. Here is a little guy his first time out -and if one can slay smelt, this lil boy is doing it. No doubt in my mind, he is hooked on jigging.
Shortly, the flags started going off and the boys were running excitedly, hole to hole. David and I right behind them,,,, did not take Eben or Trent long to learn how to set the hook and reel them in. Now don't get me wrong, the first few fish, there were a couple tangled lines, reeling the line the wrong direction, and so on! But these little boys were awesome, never upset.... there might have been a little competition going on to get there first, and there may have been a lil pushing,,, but they quickly gave heed to each other. They were so proud of their catch. Towards the end of the day, their arms were tired, but they had caught their supper. David and I were both pooped,,,,,,, it's one thing to run to your traps,,,,but it's another to be watching for the safety and staying on the heels of a 6 and 9 year-old and on ice it takes some agility. If you can make a mental picture in your head and envision jackrabbits being chased by a fox -that is the closest picture I can think of how quickly them boys can move. The ice does not seem to phase them even-without ice cleats, lol. We started to put our traps away, cleaned up our fishing space, showing them and telling them why. Soon we were ready for our sled trip out to the trucks. The snow had melted quite a bit during the day, but it was still a great ride.
Back at the house the boys were showered up and ready for supper. David and I were setting up to clean the fish and cook them. I thought maybe the boys would like to watch clean them. Ah,,,um,,,, well that wasn't enough for Trent,,,,, remember he is "6" and out of his mouth, "Can I help?" I never discourage a child from learning or helping. Yes, handling a knife and scissors can be dangerous. Yes, you have to explain step by step holding their hands. Yes, it takes time and patience. All of that running through my mind at the same time, he is interested, he is wanting to do it, and I don't want to curb his excitement of it,,,,,, out of my mouth it comes, "You need to go ask, Amber?" Into the house goes Trent, now mind you at this point he is all showered, smelling nice, in his jammies. He yells, "Amber", Amber responds, "In here", he comes in to find "Nana", and seriously says, " I need to find Amber, Harold says I have to ask her if I can clean and touch the fish". Nana tells him-" I'm Amber", lol, big discussion about her name being Amber and also being Nana and then a reply from Amber-NANA - " Yes, if Harold is going to show you, yes, but you need to listen closely". Back out the door he comes, "Nana said I can touch the fish and help". So sleeves pulled up, he listens intently, I help him cut the head off a smelt and snip up the belly with a pair of scissors. He did an awesome job, helped him with a couple more. Satisfied that he is doing it correctly, I start letting him do some on his own, telling him not to wipe his hands on his clothes - so wish we would have taken pictures of this. After a few minutes, I hear Trent talking to the fish, "I'm gonna cut your head off and then were gonna eat ya". At this point, Eben heads inside and says, " I've seen enough head cutting and gutting for tonight." plops himself down on the couch. Trent is still going to town cleaning fish, every few minutes,,,,, wiping his hands on his shirt, or wiping them on his pants - telling the fish over and over - Im gonna cut your head off and then were gonna eat you. David and I both trying not to laugh but this little tyke is covered in fish, but he is doing a great job... So the fish are all cleaned..... Trent is happy and more than ready to eat them, he heads in the house, and yes, he smelled like fish guts...... Nana asking him, "did you have fun?" While she is nudging him to the bathroom, you can see the look on Trent's face, like - what is going on here. Out of her mouth it comes, "Trent you did an awesome job cleaning fish,,,,,but you smell like one,,,,,so you need to hop back into the shower." She is walking behind him - holding his arms at the elbows out in front of him - so he doesn't touch anything. Trent is saying, Im clean - I took a shower, "its the air that smells like fish not me". I'm chuckling.
Supper is ready, first basket of fish onto the table, fries aren't even done, back into the kitchen with the fries. Two little guys sitting there, one piece of fish left in the basket. Hahahaha, little boys that weren't really sure about remembering what they had last summer. Second basket in, fries in, and they were working away. Now I have to tell you, Fried Perch is pretty good, however, the boys both wanted to try smelts. So third basket came in of smelts. Now, Trent is inspecting it, you can tell he wants to try it, but at the same time, not so sure about the tails, and curious about why we didn't take their bones out. He was a trooper and tried it, but I do not think it is a favorite. Back to the perch he went,,,,,, A few minutes of TV, and Trent was asking when it was bed time, few minutes later he was ready for bed. Eben he lasted a little longer but into bed he went. These boys earned their rest tonight and they have plenty of stories and pictures to share with their friends and family this week.
I love teaching and sharing my passion of fishing it is one of the many reasons that I became a guide. It is not so that my job can appear that I get to play or fish every day. It is a lot of work. I spend close to two months preparing and maintaining just the equipment for my next season not to mention the time that I spend finding the fish, following their patterns, etc. Same with wildlife tours, you need to know where the animals are hanging and even then it is not fool proof. My Guide Business is my profession, but it is not just a job, it is a way of life for me. It is what I do every day, it is almost like eating, sleeping and breathing. It is something that I could not live without. Over the years, I have been blessed to share so many moments, memories and firsts with many of my guests. Some have become repeat customers, some have become friends, and some have left memories that I will never forget. Every day is a new day and in this business no day is the same! I am very thankful and blessed for a dad and mom that nurtured me in the loving the outdoors and never held me back. I know there were times that I drove them near crazy with my independence and shenanigans. However, they are two of my biggest supporters of the lifestyle and profession that I chose. So as I sit here, typing this blog, I am smiling - no matter the struggles in life - its ups and downs - I am blessed with new experiences every day! Great Big Thank you to my mom, my dad, Amber, David, Trent, and Eben for the beautiful memories and moments that were made and remembered this past weekend!
I cannot wait for the boys to come back this summer for open water fishing and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, they have caught the, "Fishing Fever"!
Can't wait for Open Water!
Anyone interested in making some moments or memories with us Fishing or on a Wildlife Tour,,,, give us a call at 207-551-8962 or 207-280-0376 or visit http://mooseheadareaguideservices.com We now have lodging and can offer Stay and Play Packages!