I remember when I was a kid only 11 years old I caught my biggest and most memorable Splake Trout of my lifetime. (Here is a description and picts to see what they look like)
I did a lot of bumming with my good buddy Porky and his dad who brought us places that were otherwise almost un-reachable on our own. I spent more time with Porky and his dad than I spent with my own brothers OR my own dad. My father was a busy guy who was reared as the youngest in a large and poor family and learned the value of hard work through-out his life. I was somewhere in the middle of 4 brothers and 4 sisters, so my dad was busy doing what he had to do to support our family. As a carpenter and a jack of all trades, everything he had, he earned or made himself, so he had little time to spend with us boys outside of the house. It was not a problem for me, it was just the way it was and we accepted it as such with no hard feelings. As a result, I spent a good part of my growing up years with Porky and his dad. I will call Porkies dad my “dad2” since I spent so much time with him and he treated me as his son.
Porky and I, along with some other boys played hockey together, hunted, biked, swam, hiked, camped and fished (and did a little work too), so many of my childhood memories are with my dad2. Every year on Memorial weekend, Porky and dad2 and some other of their relatives, would take his truck up to the Keweenaw as far as he could drive on Smiths Fishery road. At that time, the road was gated off a ways in from the paved road, so we would hike the remaining 5 miles to the mouth of the Montreal River with fishing rods, backpack, tent, food and sleeping bags to spend the next 2 or 3 nights at what is now my most favorite place on the face of this earth. Some of these weekends were cold and others were comfortable, but on the cold ones, we had their enormous black dog, Tanya, in our little pup tent to keep us warm.
On one of these occasions, I was fishing at the mouth of the river with a full night crawler on a single hook with a small split shot lead weight about 6 inches up from the hook when I got the bite of a lifetime! It’s a good thing I had my drag set properly, or if not properly, at least it was not too tight, because the fish on the other end would have broken my line immediately if he did not get some line. My cheap little 6 foot Ace Hardware rod with its closed face Zebco reel seemed to be no match for the fight from this monster on the other end, but eventually he tired and I was able to get him in close enough for dad2 to scoop him up with an old dry-rotted net.
We didn’t know it was dry-rotted though, until dad2 started to walk up the bank with the catch slung over his shoulder, with me close behind, and the net broke. The 5 pound Splake Trout still had lots of life left in him and he started to flip and flop, still much too close to the water for my comfort, and I threw my rod aside and pounced on him just as he was about to flip back into the water. After a fight like that, I was not about to let him get away.
That night we had Splake fried over the fire, the most tasty fish ever in the memory of a young boy. To this day, the love of fishing is in my blood so much that I have made it my career, thanks to my dad2 for instilling it in my young mind.
Here’s the way I see it: As adults we should not let the many distractions of todays fast-paced world get in the way of taking a kid fishing, whether it be your own child or someone else’s. Make it a point to make memories that the kids will remember.