A few years back I was stationed in Colorado. I used to fish the Air Force Academy lakes quite a bit and I usually had a fishing partner. One of my Daughters was usually up and ready to go fishing with me. Once I took all three of my Daughters and did not let my wife know… yeah you can imagine the phone call I got that morning after she woke up and the kids had “vanished”. We got better about leaving notes and making sure everyone was accounted for. Memories of my Daughters first Rainbow and Brook trout are still vivid in my mind. We used to go camping and fishing and more times than not, one of them was along. My oldest Daughter, Chelsea, went with me most often. Most times she would fish for a bit then explore and come back with feathers and rocks and weird looking sticks, one time she even found a geocache. We had no idea what it was but read the instructions, swapped out trinkets, and made sure she put it back. Over the years fishing became yucky and smelly and pretty much off the “things to do” list. Soccer, dances, and boys all took over that spot. No more trips where my Daughters out fished me.
Recently, Chelsea told me she wanted to go kayak fishing when she came home from college on a break. My heart leapt and I started checking tide charts, consulting with guides and locating a good spot. I planned this trip out for a couple weeks and had visions of her battling redfish and hoisting them up triumphantly. The day finally came and we were off.
We got to the landing and got the kayaks offloaded and were waiting for some friends to get there. I handed her a rod with a grub on it and she started casting. Two casts later she landed her first fish of the day. We hadn’t even got in the kayaks wet. She had landed a nice little Bank Sea Bass. I didn’t know they went this far up the river but there it was. We launched and paddled down river. We set up and threw out our baits and then started tossing artificial baits to fishy looking spots. She managed to net a good sized crab that was eating her bait so we used it for bait for the big reds. Our friends caught up and we paddled down to our next spot. We set up and watched the water roll out of the grass. There were a lot of small bluefish and crabs abusing our bait so we paddled back towards our launch to a spot I knew we should do good at. We reset our anchors and got our baits out. Her rod tip started dancing then bent over. She fought it for a few minutes and Ta-Daa!!! Stingray. She handed me the rod to remove the “Steve Killer” from the hook. A quick flick of the wrist and pliers and the flat menace was on his way swimming back to the channel. A new finger mullet was loaded and the line back out. The rod danced again and this time a beautiful Wando River Speckled Sea Trout came in the kayak for a visit.
I was enjoying her reeling in fish and smelling the marsh and realized I needed to try and catch up. I loaded a finger mullet under a cork and splash. The cork moved instantly and then disappeared. Visions of redfish danced in my head until the little Blue fish came up. Stupid little greaser. The sun was setting and Chelsea had a date so we called it a day. As we paddled back in we chatted and raced and laughed and had a really good time. Spending this afternoon on the water was the best day I have had in a while. The relaxing sounds of the water on the hull of my kayak and the smells of the salt water and pluff mud still soothed the soul, but being able to share that with her was the best day of fishing I have had in a long time. I even loved getting out fished again. I think I know how my dad felt when I would out fish him.
Of course she is older now, in college, and on her own but I still saw my little girl paddling next to me. She is doing great in school and I couldn’t be any prouder than I am in her. Hopefully she will want to go fishing again soon. I miss my fishin partner.