YOU'RE THE BEST FISHERMAN HERE MR. TAYLOR
For several years our local TU Chapter took part in an activity of the Kiwanis Club which consisted of bringing inner city kids to a facility that contained a spring fed five-acre pond. The day before it was liberally stocked with rainbow trout with some of better than average size.
All parties reported to a nice little park across the road from the facility to sign up all the kids so that several Kiwanis members' wives' could pre-print up certificates with the kids name on them to give out after the luncheon they also provided when the fishing was over.
The kids also had to attend a quick five-minute lecture on safety near the water, instructions on being careful with hooks and what was going to happen after they walked down to the pond to fish.
As I had done a few times before the task of cleaning the trout after the kids caught them was an activity that I shared with a couple of the Kiwanis members. We had a nice small covered area with running water and two stainless steel sinks available for this part of the activity.
On this particular Saturday morn the sun was up early and it was very warm before too long. The Kiwanis club provided all the equipment, poles, hooks, weights, bobbers and either power bait or night crawlers.
All the kids were assigned to a volunteer for instructions and any other help needed as quite a few of the kids had never fished before, especially for trout.
Once everyone was equipped they scattered around the pond and began fishing with the spinning rods provided along with help when and where needed.
The action was very slow and soon it became apparent that the catching for the day may not be too fruitful. We hoped that the kids wouldn't lose interest too quickly nor become discouraged.
While cleaning a few trout that had been pulled from the pond I noticed one little fellow that was sitting on the ground at the head of the pond near a small dock looking quite dejected. His rod was lying on the ground next to him and he hadn't had anyone that seemed to be helping him at the time.
I decided to walk over and ask how he was doing and if he'd like some help. Told him my name and asked for his and he said Antoine. Asked his age and he said ten.
About now I noticed that the pond surface was in full sunlight and as it was only about ten to fifteen feet deep at this end and it was apparently heating up quickly.
I told Antoine to walk over to where the folks were giving out rods and bait and ask them for a container of night crawlers instead of power bait.
When he came back I told him that the pond was fed by cold springs on the bottom but the top water was pretty hot and the trout didn't like that too much; so, we were going to change up and do some bottom fishing.
Got rid of the bobber and baited with a fat juicy crawler and cast it out about twenty feet and let it sink to the bottom.
Explained that the trout should be more active down in the colder water so he should watch the line and if it twitched to just raise the rod tip quickly and see if he could hook a trout.
While I was telling Antoine this I felt a slight movement of the line so decided to give it a little imperceptible tug myself.
Told him that I thought he was getting a bite and give the rod a lift and if there was a fish on start reeling it in quickly.
He let out a whoop and next thing I knew he was not only reeling but walking backwards about as quickly too! By now the trout was almost on land at the ponds edge. I was praying it wouldn't get loose and that he wouldn't lose it.
I grabbed the fish and Antoine had a smile about a yard wide and asked me to clean it for him so he could get back to fishing right away.
When we cleaned the fish they were all inserted into individual plastic bags with the kids' names on them and then iced down in coolers we had at the cleaning station for later distribution at lunch time. They got to take home anything that they caught.
We soon were rebaited with another fat night crawler and back in action once again. This time when I saw the line move I told Antoine to jerk the line and lift the rod up just a little bit but not too hard.
Lo and behold he had another trout on and it was also going to be landed by reeling and assisted by backing up quite a distance from the ponds edge one again. Another fat trout for the cooler and his plastic personalized bag.
This sequence continued for about another forty-five minutes and he hooked and landed another three trout all by himself.
It was now noontime so the fishing was over and we walked up the hill and adjourned to the park across the road for lunch and presentations.
All the kids got certificates with their names on them and they also had some trophies. And, my new buddy Antoine got two. One for the largest trout, an eighteen incher at that, and one for the most fish caught.
As the day was winding down and the kids were beginning to line up for the bus or car ride back to their facility or home Antoine came running over and gave me a hug and shook my hand.
I was quite taken aback and then he said something that made the whole day exceptional and worth all the time invested.
Antoine looked at me with a huge grin on his face and said, "You're the best fisherman here Mr. Taylor." When I asked why he promptly said, "Cause you know where all the fish are!"
It doesn't get any better than this and I often wondered if Antoine remembers that day from some years back because I know I do.
THE REST OF THE STORY
The previous story is 101% true and I really enjoyed that day and the memory of it. I had a similar time just recently when a local ladies only fishing group named "The Reel Ladies" asked for volunteers from our local TU Chapter to assist them during an event they had at a wonderful summer camp for kids. Many of them are also underprivileged and they go via a free scholarship program.
The place is named "Alta Mons" and it's located near Shawsville, VA. They have about 400 acres, a small stream through the property, a small pond and a 66 foot waterfall at the upper end of the camp. There are numerous activities for the kids and the one I attended consisted of thirty kids split into groups of ten at a time.
Four of the "Reel Ladies" taught fly tying with 10 vices set up for the kids.
Two fellows from our TU chapter seined the little stream with another ten kids and put all the "bugs" in buckets and they transferred them to tables and into small plastic tubs with aerators and they matched them against three pages of illustrations of different "bugs" next to them.
The third group of ten we took to the pond area and taught them to cast a fly rod with a "yarn" fly. No hooks at this stage! Then as soon as the casting lesson was over we took them to the nearby pond and let them cast for whatever they might catch; mostly small sunfish.
Unfortunately the pond was loaded with weeds so their clear casting areas were pretty small. However, my protégée caught the first fish and he was really ticked with it.