My 4-year-old granddaughter has never been skunked while fishing. That is a lot of pressure on her fishing guide! I was determined not to let her down.
Normally, Green Valley Lake is a sure thing, but I always do a scouting trip to find out where we will fish before any grandkids come to visit.
I was really glad I did that the day before Addi’s fishing trip. The original plan was to fish in the morning and then for us to go to the East Verde River to play in the water and look for crayfish and aquatic insects with her younger brother in the afternoon.
The week before, the bluegills had been very cooperative along the shore of the big lake since they were still on their spawning beds. Now, the beds were empty and the fish had temporarily disappeared. I scout-fished all around the big lake and only caught one bluegill. This was not good for her streak or my reputation as her fishing guide.
I had a feeling that the afternoon might be better. Sure enough, both crappies and bluegills were hungry at the big dock. So the plan changed to a morning trip to the East Verde and then fish at Green Valley Lake in the afternoon.
Besides scout-fishing, I plan the day to optimize success with as much fish catching action as possible. Sometimes for my grandkids that means a trip of a half hour or less, especially when they are young. As they are figuring out if fishing is something fun that they will want to continue to do, I try very hard to leave them wanting more.
We had a great plan for the day. I was working my fly rod, while her dad was helping her with mealworms and a small bobber. Addi kept shifting from rod to rod for pretty much non-stop action.
She even started to move the flies like Papa to entice a strike, so is well on her way to becoming the family’s next fly fisher; but was equally adept at reeling them in with the spin-cast rod too.
Addi also had some fish terminology to teach me on this trip. I identified the fish as either a crappie or a bluegill when she brought them out of the water. I was pleased to see that she was very much into the release part of the experience, and soon appreciated a feature of crappies that make them her preferred catch over bluegills.
Her name for a crappie became a lipper. She quickly mastered the technique of holding the crappie by the lower lip. She loved how it caused the fish to stop moving and allowed for an easy release back into the water. Bluegills became pokers, because there was a much better chance of getting poked by a fin with a bluegill. It didn’t keep her from holding and releasing her bluegills, but she was much more cautious and hoped that the next fish caught would be a lipper.
Her dad and I changed our technique a bit to try to get our flies and mealworms past the bluegills near the surface so that we could catch more crappies that seemed to be schooled several feet below the bluegills.
This was clearly her best day of fishing as she caught about 30 pokers and 10 lippers in a little over an hour! She has her sights set on being able to hold pokers with more confidence and took special note of my fishing gloves. I wear them for sun protection and wet them down to protect the fish that I am releasing. She saw them as a practical tool to keep the fins from poking her.
I’ve already got a pair of fishing gloves her size for the next time she comes up from the Valley to fish.