Trial and error at the pond

Published 12:22 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2022

In between rain showers this weekend, our family escaped for an adventure. Outfitted in rubber boots and old clothes, we wandered around a property foraging for berries. The plan was to pick blueberries and blackberries while the kids and dogs ran wild. But somewhat predictably, our foraging was cut short by fishing. 


The blueberry bushes were perched on a hillside overlooking a small pond. Upon arriving, we parked the truck next to the bushes and began filling our baskets. For families with small kids, picking enough berries to actually bring home is an uphill battle. Many young families head up to the mountains in the fall to pick apples for a good reason. You can fill a basket with apples in about 10 minutes. 

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Berry picking takes time and patience as the one-gallon basket takes much longer to fill. The quick reward of a basket of apples makes berry picking a tough sell to an eight-year-old. After 45 minutes, our kids started looking to the pond down below. 


“Dad, did you bring fishing rods?” my son asked. 


He knew the answer to this question as he looked at his Zebco 33 rigged up in the back of the truck from last weekend. 


“Can we fish?” he continued. The idea of catching largemouth bass seemed much more exciting than picking blueberries for another hour. 


“Let’s wait until the dogs get tired and then we will fish,” I responded as our one-year-old Labrador Retriever was still buzzing around the field at a full sprint, terrorizing our older dogs with his endless stores of energy. 


About the time the berry buckets were full, the young lab was laying in the red clay with his tongue hanging out. It was time to fish. 


We rigged up a plastic worm set up called a “wacky rig.” My son took off to the pond and immediately started to catch fish. Farm pond bass that are rarely fished for can make a kid feel like a professional. 


I started to give him tips on how to fish the worm, but he was catching them all by himself. I thought maybe I should just get tips from him. 


One of the hardest parts of parenting is letting a kid learn on their own. The best way to learn to fish is by walking the banks of a farm pond and trying techniques out. 


An hour into fishing, my son’s hot streak slowed and a green streak of envy kept up as I continued to catch fish. He finally asked what I was doing with the “wacky rig.” I taught him the “how and why” of the technique. He listened intently then tried it out. In no time he had another bass on the line. 


It’s a tightrope walk teaching your kids about the outdoors. Too much teaching in nature can be tiring. Not enough teaching can lead to bad experiences. The key is to keep it fun, and it helps to always have a fishing rod in the back of the truck.


This 8-year-old preferred fishing in the pond to picking berries this past weekend.