FIRST FISH!!!
By Montana Grant

Posted: September 25, 2021

Parents and Grandparents love to celebrate Firsts! We have First Birthdays, steps, words, bikes, and so many other fun events. Ironically, kids are usually so young that they don’t have a clue, but everyone else makes a big deal out of these Special Firsts. One of my favorite Firsts is when they catch their First Fish!

First Fish is right up there with First Kiss, Buck, and so many other things that make us feel like #1. Catching your First Fish does not just happen. It takes a dedicated Mentor, some preparation, and creating relics that will survive time.

Everyone remembers their First Fish! So, it was last week when my Grandson and his dad, went out to make a First Fish Memory. Clyde Carey and his Father Dylan picked me up to head to the Ennis Pond. This Kid only fishing hole is loaded with fat trout. 20 plus years ago, my son Kyle, would only keep a trout if it was 30 inches or more. His sister and Clyde’s Mother also loaded the creel in this pond.

The Ennis Lions club maintains a wonderful park and fishing pond. The Ennis Hatchery makes sure that there are plenty of trout. I know of few places better to take a kid for their First Trout. Fishing is allowed for kids 12 and younger. The limit is 3 trout per day. At age 3, Clyde was ready to go.

The rod Clyde used was an old Shakespeare Ugly Stick that I found in the Yellowstone River. It was covered in algae and dirt. The reel was shot. With a little cleaning, this nearly break proof rod was ready to fish again. The Metal rod holders were my dad’s. He used to hate cutting trees for Y sticks to hold his rods, so me made his own. The Stringer we used was my grandfathers. Several generations of fishing Mentors all contributed to the First Fish event.

The pond was empty. No one was fishing, but the fish were cruising and splashing. We showed Clyde what he was getting in to. These pond fish are not easy to catch. They have seen every bait, lure, and hook under the sun.

We went with 2 lb. Gold Stren monofilament. I blood knotted a fine tippet of fluorocarbon. The 5 ft. rod had an ultra-lite reel attached. I set the drag for fish business. A small bobber was attached above the blood knot and a size 10 gold salmon egg hook was clinch knotted on. Clyde’s Dad was also learning the fishing tricks and tips from the “Master”.

A few casts in got some looks but no attachments to the hooks. The hook was too large. I retied a size 12 Gamagatsu hook on. These acid sharpened hooks are thin, sharp, and sturdy. I placed a single kernel of corn over the hook, so the fish could not see it.

The next cast was money. The bobber went under and Clyde, supported by his Dad were in the fight. The First Trout was a beautiful, fat, and slappy, 18-inch Rainbow Trout. The trout was netted and put onto the stringer. Now, could Clyde do it again? 2 casts later, #2 was on the beach. This was a slightly larger one. A third trout was released. One more to go!

The next bite was exciting. The huge trout surfaced, like Moby Dick, and ate the small bobber! Despite have no hook on the bobber, the drag on the reel was going out. I thought I saw hooks and rods hanging from the side of this great fish. Maybe a small fisherman, tangled in the lines and hooks, was beckoning us to dare to catch him.

Finally, the trout spit the bobber out. When the water settled, we recast and as luck would have it, the mighty Rainbow returned to finish the fight. Clyde hung on to the rod firmly and reeled like a pro. The screaming drag, splashing water, and jumping trout was as exciting as ever. The net was too small for Clyde’s First Monster trout. What a nice problem to have.

I am sure that there is a Fishing God just for Kids. They over see special events like First Fish and promote positive outcomes. Somehow, the fish flopped, splashed, and flipped into the net! Maybe it was our past Father’s giving a helping hand. Clyde’s Moby Dick was on the beach.

3 Great Trout filled out Clyde’s First Limit! Dad was just as excited. We took some pictures and high fives were all around. Clyde took another step toward becoming a Fishing adult. The last, and biggest trout was 22 ½ honest inches long!

After stopping to get some jerky, and snacks, we went home and fileted the trout. Clyde watched and learned as Science class was in session. His Dad marveled over my knife skills. We traced the 3 fish onto a large piece of cardboard and recorded the time, sizes, and date. Later, I would jig saw these tracings out of wood. Clyde will hang his first stringer of trout in his room.

First Fish Memories will be stirred each time that he looks at these wooden reminders. Kids today need more Firsts. This means that they need parents, family, and friends, to show them where the trailheads are. Laptops, cell phones, and sofa-based events are not the same as wilderness, outdoor, adventures. They will not remember their first Facebook Twitter tweet, but perhaps they will remember their First Fish!

Tight Lines and Screaming Reels!

Montana Grant