By Malcolm Acree
My wife called me early one morning while I was out fishing and promptly handed the phone to my 3 year old daughter, Payton Linh. The next few words were music to my ears, “Daddy, I want to go fishing!”
“That’s great!” I replied, “Daddy will call mommy when it cools down, then mommy can bring you to the lake.” Payton handed the phone back to my wife and I could hear her in the background screaming, “I’m going fishing with Daddy!” I realized I’d better scout the lake for some fish. I could catch one here and there, but I hadn’t developed a pattern to speak of at that point. Plus, all the fish I was catching were small. The biggest for me was around 2 pounds.
My brother was fishing with his son in a spot that looked promising, so I called my wife to bring Payton down. She was waiting for me at the ramp decked out in her pink life jacket and waving her little pink fishing pole. She was grinning from ear to ear with excitement. My wife laughed and informed me that Payton kept saying that she was going to “catch the biggest fish ever.” I smiled, but in the back of my mind I was hoping that she would at least catch something.
I pulled into a spot near my brother and his 5 year old son. He informed me that the fish were no longer biting. I took Payton’s little pink rod and put a #4 Trokar hook on it and rigged it up with a 5″ plum w/small emerald flake Senko. I sat down on the front deck next to my daughter, cast out the line, and handed her the rod. She slowly reeled it in, telling me she had “a wiggly worm” on her hook. This went on for about 20 minutes. On the last cast, Payton had it reeled about halfway back when she looked at me and smiled, “Daddy, I have a fish.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. My first thought is she was hung in the grass.
“Daddy, it’s a big fish!”
I told her to pull on the rod. “I can’t, Daddy, it’s a really big fish.”
Now I’m almost positive she is hung in the grass. “It’s okay, baby, just yank it really hard.” She took two steps back on the boat and pulled her little rod as hard as she could. Then I saw the 5 pounder come flying out of the water, jumping and splashing all over the place and screaming off line on her little rod. Luckily, I had backed the drag almost all the way off before giving the rod to her. I hopped up and grabbed hold of her, afraid the was going to pull her in. Payton hollered, “I got it Daddy, I got a big one!” She continued reeling until it got close to the boat. but the bass took off like a shot again, striping 30 or 40 yards of line. By this time my little girl was worn out so I helped her get the fish the rest of the way back to the boat and into the net.
I’m not ashamed to say that my daughter out-fished me in my own boat that day. It’s a memory I’ll always cherish.