I intentionally choose the fly reel with yellow floating line and tied on a big, gaudy dry fly despite the slim chances of anything actually making a surface hit. I then made sure to make my first cast near to her line so that she could immediately brag that her casts were farther and better than mine.

Everything was going pretty much according to plan…then the mosquito fish showed up.

Now, I should have remembered from previous trips that in the eyes of a seven-year old, fish of any size are likely targets. So when a swarm of mosquito fish hustled up to the bank in front of us in the hopes of picking up some scraps of our lunch, suddenly the objects of our pursuit seemed all the more real and attainable – so real, in fact that the bait on the end of a certain Barbie pole rig lost some of its appeal and catching mosquito fish grew in importance.

So much so, that a certain young fisher-girl raced excitedly up and down the bank shouting out questions about mosquito fish as they alternately fled and followed her.

I answered a multitude of questions about mosquito fish. More questions than I knew I could be asked about mosquito fish. I made mosquito fish sound like the absolute best harbingers of big fish that one could come across.

And then it happened.

In the excitement of the moment, a certain young fisher-girl misjudged the uneven terrain between grass and concrete and within a split second was suddenly sitting in six inches of lake water.

The look that followed was a mixture of shock, mild fear, a little pain and embarrassment. I knew that I had to think up a positive spin on the situation and I had to think one up quick.

I knew that she wasn’t hurt and I knew from the way she was sitting that she wasn’t in any danger but I also knew that I only had one chance to save seven years of careful and deliberate work.

“Oh my gosh!” I blurted out. “ You did it. You actually did it. And year’s ahead of schedule even.”

The change in facial expression from near tears to puzzlement told me my ploy was working.

“You have accomplished in one afternoon what it takes some fisher-folk decades to do.”

“What did I do?” She asked with a slight whine and a little tremble in her voice while climbing slowly out of the water.

“You have learned the all-time greatest secret of fishing.”

“I fell in the water and got my shoes wet and my pants are dirty and …”

“Shhh.” I hissed, with a silencing wave of my arms and furtive glances about, “Don’t say another word or you’ll reverse everything. This is great! This is newsworthy. This is a proud day in fishing history. Come over here and I’ll take off your shoes in the special way so we don’t waste what just happened.”

Intrigued, my soggy fishing buddy dutifully squished her way over to me. Kneeling down, I gently removed one shoe, held it up ceremoniously and poured out the collected water from inside. I then did the same with the other shoe and also with each sock.

“You have now entered the Society of Tried and True Fisher-folk. Fish will forevermore fear you and your trusty Fishing Pole of Victory. You came to the park today thinking we were just going to have some fun, but you leave a full-fledged fisher-women. Congratulations.”

The smile on her face spoke volumes. Her posture straightened, her head lifted, her eyes sparkled. Her soggy pants didn’t seem to matter quite so much.

“Can we tell Mama? Can we tell Papa?”

“Oh, absolutely. In fact, we must tell them and we must document this great day with pictures. Go stand by your tackle box.”

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