There may be no greater feeling than hooking and landing a fish while your 5 year old jumps around in excitement. It is bliss. It brings out the kid in me to see her so excited about the natural world.
After admitting that I had some learning to do about pier fishing and the SF Bay, I sought out someone who could help. I went to Walton’s Pond in San Lorenzo and talked to Jon. Jon knew exactly what I needed to do. He gave me some sound advice (turns out I wasn’t far off the mark) and sold me exactly what I needed and nothing more. I tried to look for things I might need, but it turns out I didn’t really need that much. The total bill came to $9-something. I can’t think of the last time I made it out of a fly shop for under $25. That was not lost on Jon. We talked a little bit about the economics of bait shops and fly shops while two locals sat at the counter and discussed how stupid liberals were and how the earth was made in 6 days. Jon was solid. I’ll be back. I just won’t talk politics with the regulars.
I picked up the girl from school a little bit early and we rushed home to get the gear and head back to the pier. We were the only ones there. It felt like our own private paradise.
The current was ripping but the Bay was glassy flat. We could see a seal about 300 yards away. There were all manner of birds flying around and the steady hum of traffic from the Dumbarton bridge, whose shadow we were fishing under.
10 minutes. It took all of about ten minutes for the rod to start bouncing around and I was fast to the first fish of the evening. It was a leopard shark, about 3 feet long, but it got off before I could haul it up on the pier, but not before my daughter saw it. She was impressed.
A dry spell ended after I checked the bait and found nothing there. Once I recast with fresh squid we quickly had our first shark to hand. Not big, but very cool. My girl was beside herself.
Then, a slightly bigger shark, a leopard we got up on the pier. Leopard sharks are just profoundly beautiful animals. No way around it.
Somehow my weights fell off and it was time to go after the leopard, but we left on a high note.
The way back to the car my little girl talked about how much fun she had had, asking me to make sure we came back every day I had her, every weekend, every day after school.
She wants to tag the sharks. She wants to read about sharks. She wants to see as many as possible and she wants to do it with me, her dad.
This is pretty much as good as it gets.
Sure, I’d like to be fly fishing instead of flinging bait, but I wouldn’t trade this evening for anything. I had my girl outside, handling sharks, releasing them back into the Bay. She wasn’t plugged into the TV and she wasn’t in Time Out and I wasn’t surfing the web or watching the MLB Playoffs. I was outside with my girl on an amazingly beautiful October day, catching sharks.
I’m doing it right.