Boys and fish
This started as a fishing report but it morphed into a story of boys and men.
I know this is primarily a saltwater board but some of us can't get south as much as we'd like. I also know that there are a few TTMBers(Bryant) that lurk up here in Central Texas.
I had the opportunity to take my 12 yr old, Willard, and his buddy, Tyler,(the kids in my avatar) out this afternoon to chase some hybrid stripers here on Lake Belton. Hybrid fishing has been pretty tough since last spring, and with baseball, and then football season, their fishing has been very limited. We've got a small time window before basketball starts. I'm proud to say they haven't forgotten how to drive the boat, fill the baitwell, throw the castnet, hook a shad through the nose, and jerk the lips off of any pescado that dares nibble on their bait.
I fish for one reason. That is to put my, or anyone else's, younguns on a rod-bending, drag-pulling, fin-sticking, shad-down-the-back-of-your-pants good time.
Today we had one of those. It wasn't spectacular, but as most of you know, it doesn't take a box full of fish to satisfy a kiddo's criteria for a good day on the water. We launched around 2:00PM and made the run to find shad. I haven't been on the lake in about a month so I was really just guessing on where they might be. We hit a spot in Cedar Creek that produces in the spring. I tried it first because it was close to the launch and a 20 min. boat ride to the spot I'd been finding them is cold for the boys even when it's 63 degrees. All I can say is I get lucky from time to time. Threw the net once and got about 10 shad. Moved closer to the bank and threw again. Full net. Willard says "Dad, I think we're done". I agreed, and we we're off to the Flats.
We idled around for a few minutes until we marked a few concentrated fish in 21ft of water. It was almost dead calm so we threw out a marker buoy and dropped some baits. The boys staked out which poles were theirs and which were the other's. As I sat on the outboard, observing this 12 yr old p!ssin contest, I smiled and remembered past adventures with my buddies when I was their age. I guess the fish were concentrated on eating(for those wondering what concentrated fish are) because rods started bouncing almost immediately. First, a nice 15" LM bass. Then, a small white bass. Both were on Tyler's side of the boat. Willard is not liking the setup at all. Now, he's scooching over to the middle of the boat so he can watch Tyler's poles, too. Sure enough, while Tyler is playing a 10" white bass down to its last wiggle, another rod tip on his side of the boat slams to the water's surface, 99% of the time indicating a keeper hybrid. Willard jumps on it like a cat on a cockroach and lands the first keeper hybrid in our boat since September. High-fives all around as it is slipped into the livewell and a covert shad slips down a distracted Willard's crack. A few minutes later, Tyler puts another LM bass in the well.
As the fishing slowed, the boys got cranked up. I usually find myself stifling their exuberance when we have other adults in the boat, but today, I sat on my Yamaha perch and just let them be the boys they are. They started the belching competition. Tyler asks a question only a boy would ask, "Are we going for loudest or longest?" I had to interject, "How 'bout the 'Star Spangled Banner'". After about 10 minutes of this, I called it a draw. The word "tie" not being in their vocabulary, a sudden- death f@rting duel ensued. Same parameters. Willard found a shad. I keep telling MrsG that 12 yr olds and Dr Peppers don't mix.
Amidst all the ruckus, Willard looks up and says, "Dad, look at that hawk!!" I look up just in time to see an osprey dive on a small white bass chasing shad not 30' from the boat. As the bird struggled for altitude, clutching the fish, I was able to explain to the boys that it was an osprey and that they fished for a living. I also got to explain that they once were an endangered species and that just to see one was a very rare occurence, just as my Dad explained to me when I saw my first one on Falcon Lake back in the '70s, when they really were rare. I think I was 12.