The Standard Journal
Dad, get me a good rod
In the 1980s, Bill Summer and I fished from May through September almost every Wednesday for stripers. It was rare if we caught less than 20 in an afternoon. One trip we brought his son Will along. The following is about Bill and his son that day.
We went to our regular spot that had shallow areas that were easy to wade. Will, about 10 years old, brought his favorite rod. It was a closed-faced spinning reel on a six foot rod. It was a good outfit for small bass, bream and trout. That day the stripers were thick and aggressive, almost in a feeding frenzy. The fish would come up and nearly swim between your legs.
Bill and I had both hooked up when a 10 pound striper grabbed Will’s spoon, made a quick run and snapped his line. Bill came over and tied a new spoon on for Will and adjusted the drag. Standing waist deep, Will had the lure dangling from the end of the line, just barely in the water while deciding where to cast. Suddenly a big striper swam up and engulfed the lure. Will never had time to cast.
The striper turned quickly and broke the line. Will was almost in shock and yelled to his dad, “Dad, get me a good rod.” Bill gave Will his spare rod and Will finally started landing some fish.
Will soon tired of fighting the large fish and decided to explore the island. Bill told his son to watch out for snakes. The next thing we saw was Will’s record-breaking leap from the island to a sandbar. There was a big timber rattler on the bank. Bill caught the snake, placed it in a dry bag, took it home, froze it and had it mounted.
Bill’s kids are now grown and have children of their own about the age that Will was on that wonderful Wednesday. I know that Bill sees to it that his grandkids have good rods and reels.
My father was an avid outdoorsman and taught me well. I was born in 1949 when “modern” fishing equipment was just being developed. My father passed down his fishing equipment to me as he upgraded to new models. I was 4 or 5 when I was given his metal casting rod with a casting reel. This fishing outfit was one of several that my father used until he replaced them with spinning equipment. The older ones came to me and they were still good, just not new.
I was lucky to get hand me down fishing outfits because they were still good and I caught a lot of fish with them. When I was 7 I got a brand new fly rod. Having quality fishing gear helped me to enjoy fishing that much more. I will never forget being 9 or 10, standing on the Anna Marie City Pier using a Mitchell 300 spinning reel and a seven foot rod, catching mackerel and jacks as fast as I could get them off the hook. If I had not been using quality equipment, I would have probably lost most of the fish and subsequently lost my desire to fish.
Nowadays, fishing gear manufacturers design rod and reel outfits specifically for kids 3 to 6 or so. These are cheap outfits, and if a kid breaks the rod or reel not much is lost except maybe the kid’s desire to fish. The reels usually have plastic gears and the rods are just barely able to get a decent fish to the shore.
There are even a lot of “beginner” fly
fishing combos available. These fly rods are usually heavy, thick shafted and I often refer to them as broom sticks or telephone poles. I was lucky to have
been given a good Shakespeare fly rod when I was young. It helped me to be the angler I am now.
Parents, aunts and uncles and anyone buying fishing gear for kids, please listen up. When you go to Walmart or even Bass Pro, go past all the little three foot rod and reel outfits with
“everything you need,” pink for girls and baby blue for the boys. You are wasting your money and possibly putting an end to a child’s future enjoyment of fishing before it ever starts.
A kid’s fishing combo is quickly outgrown even if it is still working after a year or two. It is best to
buy a rod and reel combo that you yourself would use; a rod that is slightly shorter but one that is well made and light enough for a young child to use. The reel should have a good brand name and should be simple for a child to use. The outfit will maybe be twice or more the cost
of the Snoopy or My Little Pony outfit, but it will be an investment can give many years of enjoyment.
♦ The next meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be Thursday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. Our speakers will be
Charlie and Kathy Breightaupt, longtime TU leaders in Georgia. They will give a presentation on teaching and learning fly fishing. The public is invited.