Standing on the side of the Grand River, fishing rod in hand, waiting patiently for a nibble on the other end, hoping I would land a monster fish to win the tournament. I have wonderful memories of the Fairport Harbor Rod & Reel Kids’ Fishing Tournament. This was an event I always looked forward to as a kid because I loved fishing. I was the one who would save up any spare cash I had to buy a container of worms from Convenient before heading to Rec Park in Painesville with my family. While my siblings were playing baseball and softball, I was at the pond fishing. Birthday gifts from my Aunt Susie and Uncle Gary consisted of a day out on Lake Erie, and I loved every second of it. The thrill of reeling in a huge walleye, a jumping steelhead, or even a sheephead as it twirled like a propeller in the water was amazing.
This weekend it was my turn to share a fishing experience with my children. This would mark the first time I had ever taken them fishing. I feel a little lot guilty not haven taken them before. Our busy life just seems to get in the way of fun activities, and honestly, I was not brave enough to take all four of them on my own. Between the hooks, rods which double as swords, and my lack of patience, I needed reinforcements. That’s where my dad came in.
Sunday, June 9 was the fishing tournament, and my kids were making their debut! They have fished before in a family member’s pond or Lake Champlain with the other side of their family but never in the Grand River. I tried to prep them that this wouldn’t be like the other fishing they have done where they plop the worm in the water and instantly get a bite. This type of fishing takes a little more patience and waiting. “We got it, mom!”, they said, exasperated. Oops, silly me, I forgot they were all fishing experts.
Dad, the kiddles, my sister Susannah, and I arrived at the fishing destination and met up with my cousins and their children and my Aunt Susie and Uncle Gary. We picked our lucky fishing spot and got the kids registered. The tournament started at 9:00am, and lines were in the water on time. I will note that it took exactly once minute before the craziness started. The kids were reeling in the line like mad because they swore they had a bite on the other end. In actuality it was only the pull of the sinker needed to get the worm to the bottom. They were jerking the line out of the water, turning the hook and sinker into a flying deadly weapon (which managed to catch me a few times…luckily no other family members were hurt). Twice my sons thought they landed a monster, and they started celebrating. They only managed to get the hook caught on the side of the wall (how do you manage to hook a wall?!), and we had to cut the line. The spot where we fish was on the side of the river, which has a about a four foot concrete walk before dropping six feet into the water. If someone were to fall in, it would be extremely difficult to get them back up on land. All of my kiddles can swim, but it still made me extremely nervous. I saved Cael from an unfortunate swim when he was messing around and slipped on the gravel that was on the walk. He then pouted because I hurt his arm when I grabbed it. Better a sore arm than the alternative. I was one hot mess by the time the fishing concluded. The same went for my dad, who spent more time fixing tangles and snags than anything else.
I know I am making it sound completely horrible. It was incredibly stressful and I feel like I needed Prozac to get through the morning, but the kids really did have a good time, which made me happy. They enjoyed being with family and attempting to fish, and even though Lex was the only one who caught something, they still had fun.
After fishing wrapped up at noon, we headed over to the hill across the street for prizes. The great thing about this tournament is they have TONS of prizes. They give prizes to kids in each age group for catching the biggest fish, and then they have a huge raffle. I knew the kiddles wouldn’t win any prize for fish, but we hoped they could snag a great raffle gift.
You name it, they probably had it at the prize tables. They not only had fishing gear like rods and tackle boxes; they had sporting equipment, camping gear, kites, and even Pillow Pets! I tried to plant a bug that if their name got called, they should get fishing rods, so they could each have their own that they picked out. Cole’s name was called, and we bounded up to the prize table where he claimed a rod for his own. He came back to where our family was sitting, beaming. Lexi was called shortly after him, and she picked a rod with florescent green details. She too was beaming when she walked back. Adrianna was the third of my children called, and after a short debate, she snagged a rod with a red reel. Happily, she joined our family in the grass. The rods had almost all been chosen, and I told Cael that if there was still a rod left when his name was called, he should get one to match his brother and sister. He agreed, and almost immediately after that, his name was called. He went to pick the last rod, but an Angry Birds kite caught his eye. He grabbed it, impulsively, and we headed back to the grass. I told him that we don’t really have a place to fly it, and I thought he was getting a rod. He wanted to bring it back to change prizes, and I told him that he needed to walk up there like a big boy and make a switch. He started walking down, hesitantly, and then my uncle joined him. Cael put the kite back on the table, was going to get a rod, but was distracted by a two-pack of water torpedoes for the pool. He chose the 99 cent torpedoes over a fishing rod. I admit I was a little mad about this. I knew he would be upset when he realized that he was the only one who would not have his own rod and reel for future fishing trips, and I was almost certain he would break the wings off the back of the torpedoes before making it home, rendering them useless for throwing. He came back and pouted.
The raffle prizes concluded, and the Rod & Reel Club members began cleaning up. The club did a great job of making sure every child at the tournament went home with a prize. It wasn’t always this way, but due to the extra prize donations and the smaller number of children who enter the contest, all kids got something. I saw Cael walk with Uncle Gary down by the prize area, but I wasn’t really paying too much attention to what they were doing. Cael returned shortly after that with a kid’s rod and tackle box combo, and the smile on his face was priceless. My uncle must have felt bad that he didn’t have a rod and let him have one of the extra prizes that wasn’t picked. Now all of my kiddles had a new rod and reel. What happened to the torpedoes you ask? Cael took those home, too, but instead of keeping them for himself, he gave them to his cousin Savannah who wasn’t able to make it to the fishing tournament.
Before I close this post, I would like to thank my Aunt Susie and Uncle Gary for inviting us to take part in the tournament this year and for helping coordinate a great event. They are members of the Rod & Reel Club and also a corvette club that raised a great deal of money for the tournament. Their corvette club fundraiser was a main reason why there were so many prizes available. Thank you for sharing this experience with my children. They are already talking about next year. And Uncle Gary, THANK YOU for the rod for Cael. He keeps talking about it with everyone, so you definitely made his day.
A final thanks goes to my dad, who I gained newfound respect and admiration for after this fishing outing. He would take all four of us fishing on his own, and I never remember him losing his patience. He taught us the correct way to cast, reel, put worms on the hook, and remove fish once they were caught, and he did all of this because he loved us and wanted to share this experience with us. Some of my favorite memories with my dad were spent fishing. I was so thankful that he was able to share this time with my children. Thanks, Dad/Grampy! We love you! So…when are we planning another fishing trip?