My dad was an avid outdoorsman in his youth. His love of nature was ingrained in him from the time he was born in a sleepy Pennsylvania town that doesn’t even exist anymore. He grew up spending his days wandering through forests, hunting and fishing and living a very Tom Sawyer sort of childhood. It’s no surprise that his kids all love the outdoors, as well.
When I was young, we used to listen to “Fishing in the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It was kind of “our song.” Dad took me fishing in the dark on the banks of the Allegheny River when I was very young, and he instilled in me a love of the catch.
When I was ten years old, he bought me my very first fishing pole – an electric blue Shakespeare rod that he explained was “the best you could get.” I was so excited to have my very own pole complete with tackle box and assorted lures. I was a bit of a tomboy, and I prided myself on knowing more about sports like hunting and fishing than the boys in my grade. So I was thrilled at getting a real Shakespeare pole and Stren fishing line.
The first time we took it out was a sunny summer morning. We headed down to a boat launch area where the Brokenstraw Creek met the mighty Allegheny River. The river was wild. A lot of early summer rain had seen some flooding, and the waters were high and fast. We had some hip waders on, but dad decided it was best if we stayed put on the shoreline so as not to be swept away. My two brothers were with us, though my younger sibling was there to watch more than actually fish. My older brother had his own rod, too – a hand-me-down from a cousin.
We gathered together and got ourselves situated. My older brother would head downstream a bit, and dad would make sure I had all I needed before he headed up the other way. We had practiced casting in the back yard for several hours the day before, and I felt confident that I’d be able to send my line out far enough to avoid the shallows that stretched out several feet from the boat launch. I didn’t want to get caught up in the thick plants that littered the area.
I sent my father off so that I could swing my pole around and make sure I had a feel for it. I was ready. This was my time. I let out the line with my baited hook hanging down just enough, and I pressed the button on the reel that would keep it from falling. I made sure there were no trees or bushes behind me to get stuck in, and I held my arm behind me and prepared to cast out. I took a deep breath and swung my arm forward the way my dad had taught me. Just as it reached the edge of the creek, I let go of the button on the reel to let the line fly.
But at ten years old, my coordination was not quite as developed as it could be. My father watched helplessly as instead of just lifting my thumb off the button, I let go with my whole hand. My brand new beautiful fishing pole went flying several yards into a raging river. My eyes were wide as I looked to my father in horror, fearful of his reaction. After a few seconds of silence, he broke out in great booming laughter.
“Only you, Katie-did,” he guffawed.
He and my brother spent a good half an hour trying to retrieve the pole, but the waters were too high and too fast, and we finally had to admit that it was gone. I was devastated, but I’d definitely learned a valuable lesson that day about the importance of holding fast to your pole.
Fishing is truly one of the best family activities I can recommend. There’s something wonderful about teaching your children the beauty in being quiet as you sit and wait for a nibble. It is an amazing feeling when you see their reaction to even the tiniest catch. Having the perfect fishing combo (a great pole and the right tackle) is important. My father’s advice that a Shakespeare is the best you can get has stayed with me all my life, and I now pass that on to my own kids.
Shakespeare is a well-respected and easy to use fishing tackle company. With the Shakespeare Catch More Fish Combo, anglers have everything they need to enjoy fishing. In addition to a Shakespeare rod and reel, the combo comes spooled with Stren fishing line. Stren has been the standard of dependability in fishing line since 1958. Depending on what type of fishing, there are a variety of different types of combos.
We recently gave the boys each a Catch More Fish Youth Combo in a vibrant yellow (their favorite color) for some summer fishing fun. We also got Mark a Catch More Fish Lake/Pond in my beloved Electric Blue, while I am loving my Catch More Fish Ladyfish, which is hot pink! Each combo includes a fishing kit equipped with what is needed depending on the situation.
The kids have been practicing their casting in our backyard just like I did when I was a kid. They insist on bringing their old treasure map in case they need it on our fishing adventure. This past weekend I found them up at the crack of dawn in their fishing gear sitting on the front porch and ready to go.
With a fishing checklist and outdoor tips we are going to be going on a tour of lakes and fishing holes this summer. I even promised them that we could take their new poles back to Pennsylvania when we visit later this year so they can go fishing with their grandpa in the same spots I frequented as a kid.
It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait.
And if you want a happy ending, let me tell you one more thing about my old Shakespeare fishing pole. Nearly 10 months after our ill-fated fishing trip, my older brother was down by the river scouting locations for his next adventure when he saw something sticking out of the water about ten feet from shore. He waded out into the now-shallow water and was stunned to pull forth my slightly rusted rod and reel! He ran home as fast as he could and presented it to me with a huge smile on his face. Our whole family was floored!
My dad set about fixing it up, and within a few days it was as good as new. That pole still sits in my parents’ garage nearly 25 years later, and it still gets used every year.
Check out this cool video from Shakespeare. And then head on over and enter the Stren Drop a Line Contest where you and a friend could win an amazing two-day guided fishing trip to one of five amazing destinations!