I pray that I may live to fish until my dying day, And when it comes to my last cast I then most humbly pray, When in the Lord’s great landing net and peacefully asleep, That in his mercy I be judged good enough to keep.
Author’s note: I wrote this article nearly ten years ago and never published it. At the time it was one of my fondest memories of outdoor life and remains so to this day. The moral of the story is that if you take kids fishing the rewards for both old and young alike will be unforgettable and those memories will shine brightly for the rest of your life.)
A couple of weeks ago on a windy Saturday four kids joyously lit out for the old fishing hole. Bob Bell (age 8), his brother Brett Bell (age 9), my youngest daughter Lucy (age 9) and myself (age 48). Well, we are all young at heart anyway. Our destination was a little pond south of town (we always protect the location of our fishing holes) where some of the best bluegill fishing in Georgia could be found. Now if you know much about this little sport fish you know that it is one of the all time great fighters. Pound for pound they out pull anything that swims.
I told the kids we would be going to a secret spot and that they should never ever reveal it to anyone else. This tidbit of information sent giggles and smiles around the group as they glanced at each other and nervously awaited the arrival at our destination. We were in hopes that our finny little friends would be swarming around the "honey hole" because the full moon was upon us and that was always a good sign. I parked the truck a little ways from the pond so that a short hike would be part of the expedition. From there we headed straight to our clandestine location and after a little preliminary mass confusion with getting everyone fitted out properly, our worms went into the water.
Luckily the fish were right where they were supposed to be and all three corks were consistently plunging beneath the water. Chaos ensued. Those bluegills were so strong that the kids were having great difficulty getting them in. We had several near misses on men and women going overboard into the pond as they attempted to land fish on their deluxe bream busters (fancy name for cane poles). As my little fishermen and fisherwoman became accustomed to the strength of their prey they began to vigorously assert themselves and turned some of the little battlers into flying fish as they jerked excitedly and with great fervor. We had to remove some of those bream from bushes and trees behind us after a few particularly strong retrieves.
The little band of adventurers also had some other types of fun. They roamed along the bank in search of lake treasures such as frogs, turtles, and snakes. They also sharpened their spitting prowess (a must for good fishermen) and the learned the hard way how to spot and avoid fresh cow patties. I had as much fun as they and merrily baited hooks, taught basic polemanship, got the lines untangled, took fish off and joined them in their explorations up and down the shoreline.
For me the most fun was watching and listening to them just as the cork was beginning to show favorable movement and then as they latched onto big bluegills that tried to snatch them into the pond. My reward was their joyful whoops and the look of pure delight in their eyes.
I do believe they began to get a tiny bit spoiled toward the end of the day. After all, when you have been a successful fisherman for several hours one might consider himself a member of the VFW (veteran of fishing wars) club. One of the boys said to the other upon landing another, albeit smaller bream, "aah that’s just a little shrimp." I knew there was a lesson that needed to be taught at that moment but didn’t want to try to do it on a day that had been so special for them. Someday we’ll go and the fish won’t bite. I will need to explain to them that the fish don’t always cooperate and the weather isn’t always beautiful. Those are lessons we all learn soon enough in one way or another. I didn’t have the heart to bring up such a depressing topic on this glorious day with my aspiring young fisherpersons. I wanted them to be excited about making another trip to our "honey hole" and may even learning that Mother Nature and adventures in the great outdoors has a lifetime worth of "secret spots" to offer if you’ll just get out there and look for them.
If that turns out to be the case it would mean that my mission that day had been accomplished and three lives would have been changed for the good.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at