Sometimes I forget about the simple things. When I was a kid I would fish off of my grandparents dock usually under the boat lift and catch perch, rock bass and sunfish. I would go through 3-4 dozen worms a day and when I ran out of worms I would have to go up into the woods and dig for more worms or get creative and find something else that would work. Many times I would resort to using bit of hotdog or a piece of bacon. The great thing about those panfish is that they would bite on just about anything.
Some of my favorite fishing memories are from fishing off a dock and catching a stringer full of pan fish. I remember one day when I was about 10, my cousin Tony and I went from dock to dock along the shoreline and caught probably 30 fish. It was a mixed stringer of perch, rock bass, sunnies and if I remember correctly there was a northern and a walleye mixed in there as well. Another time I was staying at a resort with all my family and my mom's husband, my brother in law Flip and myself caught a stringer of perch and rock bass that was enough to feed 15 people.
Sometimes I think we forget the pure joy of just catching fish and we get hung up on catching walleye's or northern's. I like catching big Northern's just as much if not more than the next guy and I will never turn down an 18 inch walleye but putting pride aside and just going out with my kids to catch sunnies or perch or rock bass is one of the most rewarding experiences I can have.
Last week my daughter asked if we could go fishing and my first thought was, we don't have time. I was thinking about getting the boat out and packing a lunch and being out all day. Then it occurred to me that I don't have to do any of that. All she wanted was to go catch a fish. And that could be done at any number of fishing docks within ten minutes of my house. I grabbed the fishing poles and a couple dozen worms and took my kids fishing. Nothing fancy just a small hook and some split shot set under an orange bobber. We weren't there 2 minutes and Eleanor had already caught a small sunny. You'll notice in the picture at the top the small sunny brought a smile and joy to her face. Shortly after that she caught a much bigger sunfish and it brought the same joy only it brought some panic along with it. the bigger fish was harder to real in and was much more difficult to hold up for the picture.
She asked if we could keep the bigger one and I threw it in the cooler on ice. She kept asking me if I was proud of her for catching such a big fish. I kept telling her that I am always proud of her. We kept fishing until we ran out of worms and both Ellie and Charlie caught a lot of fish. Charlie lost interest and wanted to race his truck on the shore but Ellie wanted to catch more fish. When we ran out of worms Ellie had caught probably 30 fish and 5 of them were big sunnies that we kept.
I cleaned those sunnies and fried them up with some tartar sauce for dinner that night. Eleanor realized during dinner that night that she caught all of the fish we were eating and that she was in fact responsible for feeding our family that night. She kept asking me if I was proud of her and I kept telling her that I am always proud of her. But when she realized that we were eating all the fish that she had caught, she was proud of herself. Ever since that day last week she has been asking to go fishing again. I need to remember that it doesn't have to be an all day outing and that some of the greatest fishing memories can just be an hour at the dock.