I went camping and fishing with my little girl. It was my fiancee’s bachelorette weekend and that meant some time with just the 5 year old any myself. We went up to the Upper McCloud River, at the foot of Mount Shasta, about 5 hours from San Jose. For those of you in NYC or Florida, this kind of California may surprise you. It is a deep, dark green with towering trees. Flowing through this dark and pervasive wilderness green are several extremely fishable rivers. This was my destination.
We got up to the campground on Saturday morning, grabbed one of the last two spots and quickly set up camp. My 5 year old was immediately enamored with a 6 year old boy across from us, which I fear foreshadows a certain amount of trouble come the teen years. Eventually, I
threatened her into convinced her it was time to go fishing. We got down to the water quickly and on the 2nd or 3rd cast I was hooked up. She got to fight the fish and then touch it. I asked her if she wanted to kiss the fish and she said yes. So, she did. This, when I asked later that night what her favorite part of the day was, proved to be her favorite incident of Saturday. All told she says she kissed three fish that day. She also told the neighbors that I caught “one million two” fish.
None of this hurt my feelings.
My folks came for dinner and that meant I got to hit the water with my dad between dinner and smores. In the two little stints of fishing I had I don’t know how many fish I caught, but it was a lot… maybe 40. Turns out they had just stocked the river with truck trout. I don’t really go places to fish for hatchery fish as I love wild fish over human-raised fish, really regardless of size. Still, “the tug is the drug” and I can’t complain.
A few special moments were created on and around the waters of the Upper McCloud. Water has a way of doing that.
One of the things learned by fishing with a 5 year old is that the line between “we are having a great time” and “I… (sob, sob) want to go back to the camp ground… (sob, sob)… NOW!” is a perilously thin line, easily crossed with no warning or explanation. There is a fair bit of balancing between pure joy and pure frustration, but I guess life is like that to one degree or another.
I urge all the parents out there to get their kids out on the water. Let them kiss a fish and watch it in a bucket and hold the rod and take credit for landing it. Turn over rocks and show then the bugs and talk about the trees and the flowers and the plants.
Don’t forget your daughters. Happy fishing all.