I spent a good chunk of time last week preparing a computer slide show for my son’s graduation party, which took place last night at my house. Joe has completed all of his school work and finals, and is set to graduate on Saturday from Trinity School in Eagan.
I must have gone through hundreds of prints, slides and digital images as I tried to come up with a good sample for the slide show. Inevitably, there were plenty of pictures that documented his experiences in the woods and on the water. Going through the photos gave me a chance to relive many of those good times.
Joe has had a love for fishing and hunting that goes way back into his childhood. It became clear at a young age that he had a passion for the outdoors and wanted to take advantage of as many outdoor opportunities as he could.
We’ve had some awesome adventures over the last decade and it was fun to share them with the folks who came to the party. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend lots of quality time in the outdoors with Joe. And, it’s something I hope to do with him throughout his adult life. I’m convinced his love of the outdoors will not fade, though we may not have as many opportunities as we do now.
I remember the first 20-inch bass he landed. It happened on one of the Minneapolis City lakes six years ago in late July. A week before that trip, I had taken my son, Andy, to the same lake. We ended up catching 28 bass, the largest of which was a dandy 21-incher Andy landed. Not bad for an 11-year-old!
Needless to say, Joe was eager to take his turn in the boat with me. And, once again, the bass were cooperative. We caught 22 bass on our trip, with his 20-incher being the largest. So, on two consecutive trips, I had the joy of watching my two oldest sons catch the biggest bass of their lives.
I knew those two outings were special and I was hoping to duplicate that success in subsequent trips. Finally, I did two summers ago, when Joe and I caught two bass on Lake Calhoun that each weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces. They came from the same spot, which I found a few years ago and rarely disappoints. I always seem to catch something on this weedy point, even during years like last summer, when it was exceptionally cool and not nearly as many fish ventured down to the deep weedlines.
This day was good from the start. In fact, before we even started fishing, I sensed we would have good action, based on the weather and the fact that I had landed the biggest bass of my life — 5 pounds, 11 ounces — the week before. So, I made a bet with Joe — if I catch a bass weighing more than 5 pounds, he would have to buy me lunch. That is, unless he caught a fish of similar size or bigger.
Not long into our trip, I set the hook on a nice fish and thought it might be the lunch winner. It was a little shy of the mark, but a great start. As we continued working the point with our plastic worms, I set the hook into something solid. This fish sat tight to the bottom and wouldn’t move. I knew within seconds that this could be the one.
I battled it for a while, then finally got it close to the surface. The first time I saw it, I knew I had won the bet. Sure enough, when we put it on Joe’s new digital scale, it cleared the 5-pound mark with 3 ounces to spare.
After putting the fish in the livewell for a photo and release later, we continued fishing the point. I started talking about places I would like to go for lunch. It sure was fun rubbing it in a little.
Then, it was Joe’s turn. He set the hook into a big fish, then fought it for a while before pulling it boat side. I knew it would be close, but I thought maybe I would edge him out by an ounce or two.
I was wrong. The tie made us both laugh — and wonder if this could be the day we get one even bigger. That didn’t happen, but we did catch some more nice fish, including a beauty weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces that Joe caught minutes before a heavy rainstorm hit and chased us off the lake.
That day may be tough to match, but I’m very optimistic about this summer. Spring came early, plus we already have had several days in the 80s and even 90s. That should spell a good summer of deep weedline fishing for bass.
I can’t wait to get back out there with Joe and Andy. I’ll just have to come up with another fun bet to make with them.