After a few trips to a small farm pond we’ve dubbed the frog lake I was dying to take my son out there. At this time little Eric wasn’t crazy about fishing like I was at his age. He’d go with me but he’d much rather go to the park with his buddies and play football. I tried explaining how intense it is to watch a big bass explode through the mat to attack your frog, but it wasn’t getting him too jazzed up about it. In his defense I’m crazy about all things fishing so he’s heard this song and dance before.
After showing him some footage from our last trip he was getting pumped up about our trip. I brought two rod and reel combos for him one was a casting set up with heavy braid and another a stout spinning rod set up with braid. Back then he was just getting hang of using casting gear so I’d let him used that until it backlashed to the point of no return then we’d switch over to the spinning rod.
As we pulled up to the lake there was the perfect amount of cloud cover and a slight drizzle of rain. We went to the bed of my pick up so I could tie on a few frogs for him. As I was explaining the ins and outs of frog fishing, why I switch out all the stock hooks for Trokar’s, and why I prefer to use Live Target frogs I could see my son was indifferent on all that information. He’s a little dude he just wants to fish. Before I handed him the casting rod I said “when you get a blow up count to 2”. The same advice I’ve heard George Mauries give anglers for years. He promptly replied with “Come on Dad they're jumping”.
A few casts in Eric had his first blow up and without waiting a millisecond sent the frog flying behind us with a hook set Jimmy Houston would approve of. Little E was a little shocked with what just took place as he’d never watched a bass violently explode through a mat to attack anything before. I told him hurry up and get it back out there she’ll hit it again. He rears back and loads up that rod then launches it forward for maybe 10 feet when the backlash of all backlashes takes place. Little E was frustrated and did his best to pick out the backlash, but this was one of those backlashes that calls for scissors, time, and new line.
Walking up to the pick up to grab the back up spinning rod combo I brought for little E the comfortable drizzle we had early turned into a light downpour. I get back from the pick up and hand little E the spinning rod. He starts firing off casts like an old pro and reeling that frog in like a maniac. I tried to get him to slow it down a little which is almost impossible when you’re full of adrenaline from the last blow up eagerly anticipating the next. He was able to slow it down just enough for his next blow up a few casts later. Exactly like the bite a few minutes ago he reared down and set the hook like he was on Bassmaster live and that frog came screaming back at us at warp speed.
After the frog barely misses us I start cracking up. I look over as little E is reeling the frog in from behind us he isn’t laughing. For the first time I see the same intensity I have when I’m in the zone fishing in my son. Standing next to him I know he isn’t listening to a word I say. It’s not that he’s purposely tuning me out, it’s that he’s fully engaged into what he’s doing and nothing else. At that moment his world was the puzzle in front of him. With each cast and each missed bite he was making subtle changes to figure out exactly what he needed to do to catch fish. The dad in me wanted to call a time out and say “son you’re making this harder than it has to be. When you see a blow up count to 2 and put the wood to um”, but much like his dad he likes to learn things on his own.
The rain went from a light downpour to a massive downpour that soaked us to the bone before we could get inside the truck. We sat in the truck waiting for the rain to slow down just enough so little Eric could catch his first frog fish. Odds were stacking up against us now as not only was the rain still coming down like crazy we were also running out of daylight. After about ten minutes the rain starts letting up, but I look over and my son is shivering. I tell him to take his shirt off and put his hoody on. He looks back at me with the don’t be mad at me dad look and tells me he left his hoody at home. The only thing I have in my truck is my BTFM jersey. Now my son at the time was a big boy for a 9 year old, but I didn’t think there was any way he’d fit into my XXL fishing jersey. He throws it on and it’s loose on him but it’s dry and it'll give us a few minutes to fish.
We walk down to the lake not saying anything to each other. His first cast he gets a blow up and this time he pause a second. He rears back and lays the wood to the fish and he hooks up for a split second before the fish comes unbuttoned. He quickly reels back in and fires his frog back to the same spot. As he’s getting ready to start his retrieve a decent fish blows through the mat and attacks his frog. He waits what seemed like forever, rears back and sets the hook like he means it, and instead of the frog flying behind us the weight of the fish loads up the rod and the fight is on! After about a minute I look down and my son is picking a bass out of a pile of slop and had just caught his first frog fish.
Pulling up to the lake I was hoping to get my son into his first frog fish. Leaving I realized what took place was much bigger than that. With time standing still my son's entire world was figuring out the fish in front of him while I watched my entire world fully engaged in something I've been crazy about my entire life. Doing my best to hold tears back I put my arm around my son and said "I'm proud of you buddy".