Everett Steelhead and Salmon Youth Organization

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How to Impress Your Granddaughter by Jim Brauch

     I have written before about things that can go wrong on fishing trips, from launching your boat without releasing the back straps, forgetting to put the plug in (I’m sure none of you have ever done that. Forgetting your keys and the beat goes on. Normally I write about mistakes others make, not my own. I talk about the fishing partner who got the boat to the lake this year and I said, “Don’t forget to put your parking pass in the windshield.”

     “Oh no,” he said, “I left the pass in my motor home.”

     “Oh Well, give me the keys and I will drive it off the trailer.”

     “They’re in the motor home too.”

     Luckily it was a small lake and we were able to run on the kicker motor. I won’t tell you who this was since I promised Carl I wouldn’t use his name.

     My four-year-old granddaughter is a person I can always impress. She is just starting to discover fishing. She has fished since she was two but she is now starting to understand more about it and, at the same time, become more critical about the results.

     At many of the youth activities I make sure she gets a chance and she always catches her fish…well, almost always. After a number of successful adventures, I met my Waterloo. I have written before about the bite just going off and speculated about the reasons. At this year’s North Gissberg Pond youth event I stocked thousands of fish for the young people and the fish were cooperative for most of the morning. At about 10:00 am my daughter showed up with the little one who quickly explained how she wanted to catch fish. Knowing there were about 4000 trout in the pond I assured her that would happen.

     Then we waited, and we waited, and we waited. I changed baits, I changed locations, I changed everything but my underwear and I would have done that if I thought it would help but the fish just would not bite. After some time of frustration, we decided she was having too much fun – getting bored – and she left.

     I got home later that day and my wife said, “So you couldn’t catch a fish for Kaitlin, huh?” Apparently, all my granddaughter could talk about was that “Papa” could not catch her a fish. That week I went to her swimming lesson and one of her friend’s fathers walked over and said, “I heard you couldn’t catch your granddaughter a fish.”

       It seemed the only thing she could talk about to everybody she met was that I couldn’t catch her a fish. My daughter told me that everybody she talked to, her first comment was “Papa couldn’t catch me a fish.”

     Determined to erase this black mark from my carefully built reputation – a legend in my own mind, I invited her and my daughter, along with my son-in-law, on a trip to one of my favorite lakes. I felt I had to renew my reputation and this would be the place. On the appointed day we arrived at the lake and I prepared to launch the boat. This lake has a terrible launch but I have done it many times and have complete confidence in my abilities.

     I lined the boat up with the granddaughter asking constantly about what I was doing. I backed up and granted, I was just a little distracted, but proceeded to put the boat into the water.

     For some reason the boat did not come off the trailer like it should have. I pulled forward and again backed up and again it still did not come off the trailer. Getting out of my truck I put on my waders and walked back to see what was wrong. Ah Hah! I failed to release the front strap. A foolish mistake but easily remedied. I unsnapped the strap, trying to do it so nobody would notice what a stupid thing I had done, and the boat lunged forward.

     Now I am really confused. The boat should have gone backward not forward. I shook my befuddled head and walked around the boat in the water which now came over the top of my hip waders. Eureka! I thought. I forgot to take off the back straps too. Now with wet feet, water filled boots and no idea how I could be so stupid, I released the straps causing the boat to come back and hit me in the chest almost knocking me down, I got the boat off the trailer.

     The rest of the trip was successful. My granddaughter caught and released at least thirty trout (we counted) and can no longer say her Papa can’t catch her a fish. I got home, happy that the day was such a success and while I was putting away the fishing gear my wife of 45 years, who will never miss a chance to point out my faults, came out and said, “I hear you can’t launch your boat.”

Story reprinted courtesy of “The Reel News” August 2014