The 10-Pound BluegillThe 10-Pound Bluegill See how a confident four year old taught me a new perspective about a lake I was so focused on making "the perfect bass lake".
By Sherman Wyman
One of my favorite things about Pond Boss and its following is constant reinforcement to identify your goals. When my lake was built, I knew I wanted it to be a trophy largemouth bass fishery, mainly for my dad to enjoy during his most prime of the golden years. Plus, I'm a pretty competitive guy, and a challenge such as raising big bass seemed like fun.
What I wasn't totally prepared for, in the beginning, was the huge amount of joy this lake would bring from so many different sources. Bass, catfish, willow trees, bluegill, my Sweeney feeder, water quality changes, floods, droughts. But one of the most fulfilling things yet recently happened.
Ranch manager, good friend and neighbor Mike Payne called recently and asked if he and his wife could bring their four year old grandson fishing on my lake. Grandpa and his bride had the youngster for the entire weekend and thought a fishing trip would be a fruitful outing.
The boy had allowed that he was ready to go fishing for the first time. They took a special trip to the fishing store and bought a perfect size rod and reel for him and his two foot five inch frame. He practiced pushing the button, casting and reeling all day in anticipation of catching the big one the next day.
Four year old Kagen Payne was ready, up to the task.
Mike called me because he knows how bluegill are constantly hanging around the feeder, lying in wait for the next luscious and free morsel. He also knew these creatures could be easily caught by a little boy with just the right stuff, on his first fishing trip.
The next morning the entourage arrived with fishing rod and a bag of sweet corn for bait, and all with wide eyed excitement.
I swear he looked like a tiny Opie Taylor in cowboy boots and fishing rod over his shoulder as he made the trek onto my wooden dock. The scene made me w
ant to whistle.
I decided to join them because I had never watched a four year old boy on his first fishing outing and thought this adventure would be a treat.
Boy, was it.
Within one minute the little live wire fisherman had fully engaged three full grown adults waiting and baiting while he reeled in bluegill after bluegill. No sooner did the bobber hit the surface did it rocket under water and Kagen reeled with all his might, drag spinning, line stripping. "Unhook the fish, more corn!" he called out. Fish after fish until the lad had exhausted himself, (and three full grown adults), as well as a multitude of bluegills who were released into the lake wondering what whirlwind they just fought through.
After the fast paced fishing session, as we all sat on the truck tailgate and reflected with him. Kagen admitted he was proud to have caught all those fish. When asked how big the half pound to pound and half bluegill were he sm
iled a wry, four year old smile and said, "10 pounds and 14 inches, all of them." I asked, "Ten pounds and 14 inches, huh?" He looked me dead in the eye and said, "yup!" I asked again, for emphasis, "Are you sure?" And with even more determination he affirmed. We all laughed until our sides hurt. The boy already understands the art of telling a "fish" story.
Later that afternoon, alone, I reflected about how much fun he had catching those bluegill and how much fun I had helping him. I've spent years growing big bass in the lake, even 10 pounders, and yet, somehow the simple joy of a boy and the 10 pound bluegill eluded me.
I am grateful for that phone call, and the visit, because that confident four year old taught me a new perspective about a lake I was so focused on making "the perfect bass lake". If you see Kagen around town, tell him he can come fishing any time.
Thank God for kids.
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine
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