Hearing excitement in your child’s voice as they manically reel a fish in is priceless. And it brings back a flood of memories too. It might be the smallest fish in the lake, but that tiny Rock bass just made my kid’s day… and mine too.

Now that he’s got it reeled in and out of the water, the lesson can begin. “Can you take it  off the hook for me, Dad”? Nope, but I’ll teach you how to do it safely for you and your fish. It takes but a moment for the excitement to wear off and the look of fear takes over. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for that little fish and what’s about to happen, but my son is going to learn how to do this for himself today. His older sister learned this lesson three years ago, and now it is his turn.

I know this is going to be a bit of a process so I get our five gallon bucket filled with fresh water. We need to get his little prize in the bucket. I need time to prepare my son; explaining how dorsal spines work, how to hold it properly, how to hold the shank of the hook and keep your fingers away from the point and that dreaded barb. We’ve compromised, I’ll be getting his fish out of the bucket, he will hold it and take out the hook. As we ready ourselves for the hand-off I’m watching my timid Mini-Me, but he’s doing great! Now that he has the little fish in his hand, his fear subsides and he executes our game plan perfectly. A quick picture to show Mom, and back in the water it goes. We high five each other with our slimy fish hands and hug it out for a moment. I make sure to tell my son how proud I am of him. This is a moment that I’ll never forget and I hope he doesn’t either.

It’s back to fishing and his next lesson is just moments away; I’m waiting for him to notice that his last big catch stole his worm 😉.

It makes me proud to watch my kids grow and share in my appreciation of fishing and in being good stewards of our environment.

The Peterborough and Kawartha region offers seemingly endless opportunities to get outdoors for family fun, and we try to take advantage of it as much as we can. I relocated here over 15 years ago and decided this was a great place to raise my family. My instincts were right, it is a great place.