This past week I returned from a few days fishing in Canada with my 7-year-old grandson and son-in-law. I have been going to Frog Rapids Camp in Sioux Lookout Ontario for over 30 years, and John has gone up with me several times, but this was Declan’s first trip. We were pumped about going together.
Taking an active 7-year-old fishing for a few days requires planning. You can’t wing it. John was in charge of food. Dec can demolish a plate of pasta in a heartbeat. Spaghetti and meatballs are a necessity, along with large doses of pancakes and French toast for breakfast. The menu has to be diverse enough to accommodate a young man’s preferences, supplementing it with multiple juice boxes, granola bars and other treats. The hope was we would catch enough fish to make good use of the deep fat fryer.
Dec also got a new fishing rod, a full rain suit and rubber boots for the trip. Of course he didn’t need any of that. The temperatures were in the high 70s with not a cloud in sight.
On this trip, I was in charge of boat and travel arrangements. Fortunately, on this excursion there were no break-downs or major mishaps. Oh, did I tell you I clipped our mailbox with the right fender of the boat trailer on the way out of town? There’s a reason why the marker lights can be easily replaced. At least the fender didn’t come off this time.
We also threw three mountain bikes in the boat along with the fishing equipment in order to vary the schedule a bit with rides on a nearby bike trail into town. Many of the older anglers in camp marveled at Dec’s fat tire bike as he zipped around between cabins burning off excess energy from too many Oreos.
The journey is long — seven hours, with multiple breaks for lunch at McDonald’s in I-Falls, gas, bait in Fort Frances and a stop at the Beer Store for adult beverages in Dryden. It’s almost as lengthy as the one with my long-in-the-tooth fishing buddies later in July. Dec did well, sleeping some of the time, asking a multitude of questions and playing games on my phone.
Fishing turned out to be not as good as expected. We had enough to eat, but wily angler ways did not serve to catch as much as we’d hoped. Even with that, when John hooked a walleye, he let the young fisherman land it. After a while, Dec took over netting full time, even handling the bigger fish with growing expertise.
At one point, we were running out of leeches, our bait of choice, and decided to get some minnows for backup. Like any 7-year-old, the bait-well held more fascination for him than trying to get a fish to bite. Dec went after the largest fathead minnows with the bait net for entertainment. At least John had a break from near misses with random hook swings and leech slaps in the face.
Some of the best fishing tips of the trip were provided by Larry, one of the owners of Frog Rapids Camp. He told Dec about a northern pike that lurked in the lagoon next to the dock. The kid was on it, casting artificial baits and landing, I am sure, the same fish on two consecutive days. Can you understand why we were tired just watching him?
Next summer, we plan to throw in some down-riggers for fishing Lake Trout on Big Vermillion south of town. Of course, we’ll have to get some practice time in on Superior before we go again.
Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and licensed psychologist. Write to him at email@example.com.