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Fishing with kids nets worthwhile memories
Adi and fish
Four-year-old Adi Conway proudly displays the first fish she ever caught. - photo by Photo by Meg Conway

 It was an odd sight, even alarming to a degree.

Dressed in a yellow jacket that made her look like an oversized duckling, a small girl stood alone at the edge of a pond. She was patiently watching an orange cork that bobbled only because a steady stream of raindrops was falling on and around it.

As I got closer to the tiny angler while traversing along a two-path road, I was relieved to see a familiar truck come into view. I pulled up next to it and quickly entered it on the passenger side.

“Watch this,” its driver said as he lowered the window on his side. “Meg, aren’t you ready to go home?”

“Just one more fish, Papa. Just one more fish,” was the reply from the five-year-old Bill Dance wannabe.

“She absolutely will not give up,” said her gray-haired counterpart, an avid angler who eventually surrendered to the damp conditions. “It’s been an hour since she got a bite.”

After several minutes of additional conversation inside his truck, the man let the window down again and said, “Meg, are you ready to go home now?”

Her response sounded like a recording.

“Just one more fish, Papa. Just one more fish,” she said.

 The scenario from nearly 25 years ago repeated several times before the old fellow, my daddy, insisted that it was indeed time to head home. It was one of his most memorable days in his relationship with my daughter — they made a few other fishing trips — and the kind that I knew I wanted to experience with my grandchildren.

My first chance came a month or so ago when my phone rang. It was a Facetime call from Meg, who just turned 29.

“Adi’s got something she wants to ask you,” Meg said before handing the phone to my four-year-old granddaughter.

“Will you come take me fishing?” she said. “You took me one time and we didn’t catch nothing and I want to try again.”

That was an invitation I absolutely couldn’t refuse. I hastily grabbed a pole and headed her way without a bit of bait or a tackle box.

After arriving at Meg’s house, I begged for bread scraps. She provided a slice or two and Adi and I headed to a nearby canal to try our luck.

On the first cast, the cork disappeared as soon as it hit the water. The bread, however, wasn’t good bait. Those sneaky bluegills and red bellies kept knocking it off before we could snag them.

A switch to Oscar-Mayer wieners did the trick. The first cast with a piece of one resulted in a large bream, setting off a squeal of delight from the new fisherman who is a dead ringer for the girl who refused to go home so many years ago.

“I want to catch a hundred!” Adi said after hauling in about her second or third fish. 

Adi landed a few more bream before her grandpa’s lack of preparation cost her dearly. Her line broke after it snagged some underbrush and there was no backup. 

Although the excursion ended in abrupt disappointment, it left Adi and me wanting more. I stopped by Walmart on the way home and bought her a pink rod-and-reel combo. I hope we wear it out before she advances to a Zebco 33 or whatever is next.

I pray that Adi will develop the kind of uncanny patience that her mother had for fishing. Even if she doesn’t, I’m content to know that both of us will net memories that will last a lifetime.