feandad and grandson

Youth like to fish and hunt, they just need someone to take them and show them how. The end result is that the adult often enjoys the trip more than the child.

Dove hunting. Check. Quail hunting. Check. Deer hunting. Check. Bass fishing. Check.

I have done a pretty good job introducing my grandson, Connor, to the outdoors even if I am the one enjoying it the most.

Just 4 years old, Connor is still in the observation stage for most outdoor activity, but my theory is that is the way to go. You have to learn letters before you can write words before you write sentences before you write a book. It is certainly that way for hunting. Fishing can be a little different.

I bought Connor his first rods and reels this year for his birthday. In a time honored tradition, it was a pair of Zebco 33s. With 33s you have to buy at least pairs because chances are you are always going to be working on one.

The granddaddy daycare weekend started on a Friday with a trip to Caldwell Zoo. The zoo had only been reopened a few days so the crowd was tolerable, giving plenty of time at each exhibit to help a youngster find the animals. But it was a hot and humid afternoon that certainly took the energy out of one of us.

The fishing trip was planned for the next morning, weather permitting. We were going to a friend’s ranch east of Tyler where we could easily fish from the banks of several lakes. It was the same place I had taken his dad, Tristan, on his first fishing trip more than 30 years ago.

However, sometime in the early morning the rains came and up until it was time to go things were looking a little dicey. However, we made a quick trip to the store for a pair of rubber boots, loaded the truck and left.

The idea for the day was to let Connor cast and reel. That is what kids his age want to do anyway. Patience is not a word in his vocabulary. It is an added bonus if they catch a fish.

His dad started by catching bream. Just like hunting small game like dove or squirrels first I am a proponent of starting with something like bream, crappie or white bass. They need something where they get a lot of action to keep them invested.

But this was going to be a short trip. He had been practicing casting in the front yard and I figured this would be an extension of that. Hopefully his uncle Thomas or I might hook a fish and we could always hand him the rod for the catch.

That plan changed when after one of us cast and Connor took over and began reeling in when a 1-poundbass. The fish was more than enough fight for the young fisherman, but he got the fish to shore.

Time to celebrate and take pictures with that first catch. OK, maybe not the picture thing. He had no interest in getting close to the fish, which was interesting because he does not mind picking up a dead bird or touching a deer that has been shot. It created a life lesson moment about overcoming fears.

It did not take long before Connor was pretty certain he could both cast and reel. Remembering the time his uncle put a worm hook in my earlobe, I took him to another, more open lake and let him fling. His casts might have made it 20 feet off shore, and he was immediately reeling in.

I told him to let it drop a second, which started a repeating scenario of him casting and immediately asking if he could start reeling.

On about his third cast, his voice came up and the line took off to the right. He landed a 2-pounder. His fourth cast was the same. Then the fifth and sixth. All producing bass weighing between 1 ½ and 2 pounds. All caught less than 20 feet from shore by a 4-year-old doing it for the first time. I had no advice to offer. He was doing better than me.

To him he probably thought he was pulling in a whale. To me it was fun to watch him struggle, learning how to leverage the rod by putting his finger of the trigger and holding the rod up. It reminded me of his dad many years ago.

Yep, its good to be a grandpa.