Bass and unicorns

Published 11:36 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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Sunday afternoon was about as perfect a spring day as one could design. The mild temps and light breeze made staying inside a crime. After church and a quick late breakfast, my family made a trip to the sporting goods store to prepare for summer. 


To my daughter’s disappointment, we walked right by the giant inflatable unicorn pool float and headed straight to the fishing section. Our stock of pond and river fishing lures was getting precariously low. A combination of big fish and tree limbs depleted our supply of spinners and stick baits since last April. 

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My wife and I picked out the essentials: beetle spins, poppers, spinnerbaits and plastic worms. We let our kids pick out a lure of their own. My son picked out a shallow running crank bait that looked like a grasshopper. My daughter picked out a bright pink in-line spinner which I can only assume was chosen because it matched the unicorn pool float. 


After we got our supplies, we organized them at home. The Zebco 33 fishing rods were rigged, and off we went to fish near our house. A river behind our house offers a mile of riffles and pools to tangle with panfish, bass and catfish. 


Unfortunately, due to the recent rain, we had to walk a half mile downstream to a feeder creek that wasn’t muddy. My daughter let us know that floating down the river on a unicorn float would be much more fun than walking. 


Arriving at the feeder creek, we found clear water and willing fish. The overhanging branches proved extra hungry. My son quickly learned the ancient art of getting a lure out of a tree limb on the other side of the river. He also learned that sometimes you lose a lure. He looked in his tackle box, found a new one, and tied it on himself. My son made a cast to an inviting pool and WHAM! A small bass attacked the lure and the yells of excitement punctuated the end of the short fight. 


Like a pro, my son grabbed the lower lip of the bass with his thumb and gently worked the lure out. He held the fish out for a quick photo and tossed him back. As I watched from twenty yards away, pride swelled in my chest. As much as I wanted to tie on his lure, tell him where to cast, and take his fish off for him, I wanted even more for him to have the confidence to go fishing without his mom or dad. 


As the afternoon fishing expedition came to a close, we walked back to the house talking about the fish my son caught and missed. He started making plans about fishing this summer and setting a goal to catch at least one fish every three days. Anything that gets a kid out of the house and away from the screen is a win in my book. 


So if you happen to see my son fishing this summer, feel free to say hello. He will be easy to spot because his sister will be floating beside him in a unicorn inflatable.