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My best day of fishing..

Ok, Here's the story. The youngest daughter is down for summer vacation with my two granddaughters...well, three actually since she is due in September with another girl! One of the things on the "to do" list is that the older girl Riley who is seven years old wanted to go fishing with "Grampa". She also wanted it to be "Just us" little sister (Cassidy..who is 3 1/2).

Now, mind you, she has never been fishing. So, I am working on "a plan".
The Sebastian River Junior Woman's Club just happened to be holding their 13th annual yearly inshore tournament, that my wife started ( with some help :wink) way back in 2000, this weekend. It is a small but nice venue where they really try to get all the kids who fish it a prize, and make it a big deal for I figure what a great way to bring her into the sport with a "memory" of also getting some prize and getting to "weigh-in" like the big people...if Grampa can deliver on a fish. Most know I did a fair amount of tourney fishing but I NEVER felt pressure like the run up to this tourney.
This was a big deal...a make or break for me. It's been a very long time since I had a little kid fishing...wasn't totally sure what I should do for a total newcomer on their first trip. I wracked my brain and had several "ideas" and some contingency plans worked out.
Well, as you all know, the weather was in the crap can but I went and registered us on Friday...but didn't tell Riley because if the weather was bad...I didn't want a 7 yr. old girl's first fishing trip to be miserable and I worked out with my daughter Rachel that I would call from the water and give the "go / no go" and would meet later in the morning if it looked OK for Rileys trip.

So, I wake at 4:30 and head for the river to get bait. I'm launched and running around looking for bait by 5. It was a real struggle but I wound up with 11 mullet and one croaker...shrimp at the bait store is fall back plan B.

I fish with soft plastic and wind up with a jack and a pair of mid slot trout....but do manage a skinny 24 inch trout so while it isn't ultra impressive...I figure to weigh it just in case it's a slow bite and it may never know.

So, 11 AM I call the daughter and tell her it looks do-able. I meet up with them at 11:30 and we head to a spot I have been saving. It's had a few decent trout around it. On the way, I give Riley a quick tutorial on how to hold a spinning rod/reel and how to fight a fish. We get there and I make a slow approach down wind with the trolling motor and when in position I fire the lone croaker to "the X"....I see a flash and set the hook and as I prepare to pass her the's gone...Oh no! I regain my composure quickly and sent the smallest mullet out there and it is instantly blasted. It's a long wait and hard hook set and now Riley is standing next to me fighting this trout for all she's worth! Grampa is coaching her and telling her " Hold the rod tip up sweetie" and "Keep cranking" and in what seemed like a slow motion dream....and an eternity of fear of the "what if's"....I get the fish netted and we are all having a super freak out! It's beautiful 22 incher.
Well, we are conflicted about whether to head straight to the weigh-in...or keep fishing. But, Riley is jazzed so we go to another spot....and she lands a just slightly smaller 21 inch trout. The weather is steadily deteriorating so at 2:15 we start the run to the weigh-in. I'm feeling pretty good about her at least placing with her fish so I want to make sure we make the 3 PM cut off...which we do with plenty of time to spare.

So, Grammy along with her mom and sister are at the weigh-in when she gets to bring up her fish....and it's her moment! Cameras are clicking and at this point she is the only one on the kid's board! It's a solid 3.18 lb fish. She does interviews for the newspaper and more photos. Gramps weighs his..but it's only 3.84 and you will need over 6 lbs to get on the leader board.

3 PM comes and she's sitting at the top...she is #1!!
They announce her as the winner and she steps up to get her winnings...Her very own Rod and reel! a winners photo/plaque and a gift card to Dunkin Donuts. Grampa is so proud he could cry.

The youngest is not too happy with Riley getting "prizes" so grampa makes it up to her by taking her in the skiff back to the ramp and lets her "drive" :driver:

I get back home at 4PM...beat tired....but happy...very, very happy!



And the next fisherman ....

There are many roads to travel
Many things to do.
Knots to be unraveled
'fore the darkness falls on you


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