In the classic film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, the main character, George Bailey asks at one point, “Do you know what the three sweetest sounds in the world are?”
Lovable but single-minded Uncle Billy answers, “Sure. ‘Breakfast is served’, ‘Lunch is served’, ‘Dinner is served’”.
Now, while I would generally tend to agree with Uncle Billy, I would also add to the list the phrase, “Uncle Dan, will you take me fishing?” with “…And the winner is…Dan Zambrano” as a close second.
But anyway, the former phrase is the one that caused my heart to race this past weekend as our niece approached me and begged me to take her fishing.
Who am I to deny such a humble request from one so sweet? Especially when it was followed with one of those pleading little faces that kids intuitively seem to know will melt our tough-guy façade like hot…uh… coffee on snow.
So, with only a little bit of scheduling adjustments and some quick conferencing with her mom, we planned for Sunday afternoon as the big adventure day.
I already knew exactly where we would go: Laguna Park in Fullerton. I also knew exactly what sort of rig we would use and I already suspected I could enlist the help of my fishin’ buddy Sean.
Sure enough, when Sunday afternoon rolled around, a certain ten-year old was duly deposited on my doorstop with the motherly advice, “Do exactly what uncle Dan & Sean tell you to do and you will catch a fish”.
No pressure there.
Soon, we were at Laguna Park and we quickly fell into the pattern that we would follow pretty much for the rest of the afternoon. Sean led with his 5-wt fly rod
rigged with a hopper-dropper combo while Holly and I used simple bait rigs suspended about eight inches beneath plastic floats.
As Holly tangled or fouled her rig, I would let her use my ultra-light Pen Rod while I reset her gear. I would then fish her pink and yellow Snoopy pole for a while. When she fouled the Pen Rod, we would switch off and I would reset that rig.
In between re-rigging, I did manage to quietly catch a few fish on both poles. Holly however, had her eyes fixed on Sean. His rig was bringing in fish about every other cast.
This strategy, coupled with the steady number of Bluegills that Sean kept pulling in, had the effect of keeping Holly interested, busy and excited at the prospect of her first fish.
We fished for about fifteen minutes (a life time to a ten-year old) but she had not tied into a fish. She was keenly aware however, that Sean was several fish ahead of her and she had some catching up to do.
(How’s that for attitude and positive thinking?)
After a short time, I realized that she was getting bites but she could not pick up on the subtle movement of the traditional round bobber. In the time it took for me to tell her to set the hook, the fish would be off. So, I switched her over to a bright yellow pencil-float and that seemed to telegraph nibbling Bluegill much better.
Sean let her borrow his polarized glasses for a moment and with them she could see the little bluegill attacking her bait.
Suddenly, it all clicked and you could pretty much see the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place within her head.
Soon she was reading the bobber signs quite well and, even better, she was catching fish on a consistent basis.
Before long she was striving for first place in our impromptu catch and release fishing tournament.
So, train whistles, boat whistles and airplane engines may have been the sweetest sounds in the world to George Bailey but that’s probably because he never heard the sound of a kid that has just landed her first fish all by herself.
That sound is one of the sweetest sounds of a wonderful life… that and the phrase, “Your chicken McNuggets are ready, sir?”
…I love this addiction called urban flyfishin
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