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A Boy’s First Fish

A sporting lifetime begins

Logan Doyle holds his first fish, a white perch that put his Spider-Man spin-cast rod to the test.
       Having practiced with the colorful rod and reel he got for his birthday, Logan was finally in the bow of my skiff, targeting the water near a rock jetty. He tensed, then sent the small spinner bait sailing through the air.
      Though the cast went a little wide, it still landed in a good area. He shifted the rod in his hand and began to crank the handle. But after only a few turns, the reel froze.
      Concern crossed his face, and he tried to lift his rod tip to help pull in line. But his rod shaft bent perilously down. Then Logan felt the line pull hard. Stumbling a step forward, he just managed to recover his balance as his dad, John, grabbed for the back of the boy’s life jacket. Pandemonium ensued.
       The last thing a new angler needs is too much advice, which is exactly what the poor fellow got. 
      Pull back Logan, set the hook … Crank him in, kid, don’t let him pull you in the water … Keep back from the gunnel, Logan [as if he knew what a gunnel is] … Rod tip up, rod tip up …
       To his credit, he was deaf to every bit of well-meaning advice. Chewing determinedly on his lower lip, he leveraged his rod up against the fish’s pressure to crank the uncooperative white perch toward the boat.
       I have never caught a fish of any kind on a Spiderman spin-cast rod. The model that Logan was using had, at first glance, seemed up to the task. Now it seemed that the power of this fish just might be beyond the outfit’s design parameters.
       The fish had won the opening rounds, but our intrepid angler refused to give up. After some long moments of struggle and uncertainty, he drew the rowdy perch skiffside. I resisted the impulse to scoop it up at first chance and waited as our young angler subdued the fish properly and led it into the net.
      The victory celebration was justifiably over the top, for this was the first fish caught on my skiff by my first grandson, all on his own. I don’t think he was any prouder of his conquest than I was of his performance. His dad, my eldest son, was already planning to get Logan his own boat and a half dozen better rods and reels — despite the fact that the boy had just turned five.
        There were more battles that day, and that evening we dined on the freshest and most delicious white perch fry. The person with the most aggressive appetite for the crunchy tidbits was Logan’s younger sister, Isabella, just two years old. I could tell from her appetite, enthusiasm and determination that her older brother had better keep up his fishing skills, because she would be coming strong on his heels. I had already seen to it that she had her own Spiderman and Ice Maiden rod and reel outfits.

Fish Finder
      Rockfish are back. Trolling, chumming and bait-fishing are all productive. Small bucktails and soft plastics are the ticket for trollers. Anglers preferring to jig on those schools are scoring with BKD’s, Assassins, Crippled Herrings and similar metal baits. It’s menhaden and soft crab for those preferring natural baits.
      Big perch have finally shown up in the shallows and are also ganging up in the tributaries along the channel edges and in the mainstem in 15- to 18- foot depths, especially over shell bottom. 
      Norfolk spot and croaker are finally in our waters. Croaker are on the small side. A nine-inch croaker is legal size to keep and ideal live-lining bait for larger rockfish.
     Crabs are coming on here and there but not all over. If you don’t mind moving around and have patience, you can catch your bushel.