The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Friday, August 23, 2013


Summers are wonderful times for youngsters in school.  Lazy days, sleeping in and all the great joys of the hot summer months are a welcome reprieve from the structure of school and classes.  It's no wonder kids are wound up in May waiting for summer vacation.  It's even easier to understand how they dread going back in August, too. 

My boys, even despite this being their first year in high school, still like school for the most part.  But they both knew the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call would be MUCH earlier than the unscheduled one they'd enjoyed many days all summer that was at least three hours later.  So they thought an early wake-up call the day prior to their first day of school would be a start to get them "conditioned" to get up early.  And what better reason to get up at 5:30 a.m. to head to the lake for a fishing trip to celebrate the last day of summer vacation.

We were out the door at 6 a.m. and joining Brandon, Cody and I would be one of their friends, Riley.  Riley had been fishing with us a couple springs ago during the crappie spawn and he had a good time and we caught a lot of fish.  But he did pick up a temporary nickname that trip, "Squirrel," as he spent more time tangled up in the trees high above the water than he did fishing.  Fortunately for Riley this trip wouldn't involve any casting.  He'd never caught a channel catfish so I was anxious for him to get his first one.   

We were the first boat on the water as the sun was just easing up over the horizon.  Cody, recently outfitted with his Kansas Boater's Education card, chauffeured us across the lake to our destination.  After dropping a couple anchors and outfitting the boys with their rods and a fresh glob of Danny King's Catfish Punch bait I dumped the first few rations of chum over the side.  Riley wasn't impressed and just turned away when I offered him a little taste of the fermented grain.  Cody, as usual, gagged and spit when he caught a whiff.

It didn't take long for the catfish to like it, though.  Within the first 10 minutes Brandon had set the hook and landed a couple nice catfish in the 3-4 pound range.  I caught several, too.  Riley's and Cody's attention span, while initially good, began to wane over the next hour or so.  So I moved Riley up to my seat and handed him my rod.  Nearly on cue, a big fish took Riley's rod downward and I hollered for him to set the hook.

Riley's rod spent most of the first few minutes of the battle bent over and under the side of the boat.  Slowly and methodically, he worked the fish until it neared the surface and I netted his first catfish, a fat 7 pounder.  Brandon caught a similar-sized fish  during the battle for a nice double and both boys were pleased with their accomplishment.

Brandon had the hot hand most of the morning and he gives all the credit to his "lucky" hat.  He got it on a family trip to Bennett Springs State Park.  On our previous catfish outing, his hat's maiden voyage, he left it in the truck and never caught a fish in three hours.  I'm betting he never forgets it again.  Riley caught several more nice-sized channel cats and thought catfishing was cool, too.  While Cody had the hot hand the last trip, he apparently swapped places with his brother and only had one dinky cat for the day. 

We called it a day just before noon with 20 nice channel cats swimming in the livewell..  The boys, although munching on honey buns and drinking Dr. Pepper throughout the morning, were visualizing Wendy's cheeseburgers and fries on the ride home. 

In my book it was an excellent way to spend their last day before going back to school.  I think they thought so, too.  And when one of their teachers asks what they did on their summer vacation they'll have one recent, although aromatic, outdoor adventure that stands out!         


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