67.1 F
Spring Hill
Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Fish Slap…

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I’ve been hunting and guiding steadily for the last few months, and it’s been taking its toll. Too much work piling up, big projects and side ventures are pulling me in various directions, and on top of that, my relationship status has taken a giant leap as well.

That’s why I stayed out of the woods last weekend and went fishing instead. My girlfriend, Lisa, wanted to share a bit of my company, what with all of the Christmas celebrations and such going on. I’m not one for attending those sorts of things, but then I heard the saddest words ever come out of the mouth of my stepdaughter-to-be’s mouth, “I’ve never been fishing.”

I was dumbstruck. I don’t think I have ever met a ten-year-old who’s never been fishing. Fishing, especially bank sitting for bluegills, is the first introduction to the outdoors, which stimulates a lifelong love affair with hunting and fishing. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age moment when a youngster reels in their first fish.

That settled it. I hung up my bow for a little while and grabbed some poles and a tackle box. I took my girls fishing!

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I took them down to the grand, old Withlacoochee River, near the old Iron Bridge, and pan fishing 101 began! I showed her how to skewer her very first worm and how to use a push-button Zebco 303, and within minutes of her first cast, she caught her first fish. My cup runneth over!

It was a hefty little bluegill, which being her very first, I was obligated to hold true to the ancient tradition (which I made up on the spot) of issuing a fish slap to christen my new fishing partner. I held the bluegill by the head, swished the tail across her cheek and welcomed her into the successful angler club.

She didn’t mind the fish slap at all, and quicker than I could bait my own hook, she was cranking fast on that little purple Zebco reel. Bluegill number two was making his way to the bank! It was a fun, fun evening down by the river.

Isn’t it wonderful to spend time outdoors with kids? Even the most common sights can again be a wonder when viewed through the eyes of a child. Simple things like a mussel shell found along the bank, a distant hoot owl sound, or the splash from a hungry gar can stimulate excitement and joy.

We’ve fished together a couple of times now, but very soon, we’ll get to hunt squirrels together. The Small Game Season is open in the Croom WMA, located on the northeastern edge of our county. Therefore, once again, Soleil and I will be sitting on the banks of the Withlacoochee River. Except this time, we’ll be facing the opposite direction and carrying a tiny Cricket.22LR rifle as opposed to a fishing pole.

It makes for a mighty fine evening, so why not join us? I tell ya, folks, I’d be tickled to meet you. So, if you have any questions, comments or would like to try a little squirrel hunting, reach out to me at [email protected]. God Bless, and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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