Angling success secret: Don’t force the fish
When I asked a new buddy if I could bring the girls onto his land to fish the Rum River, he said “No problem." I imagined catching big smallies, northerns, and a bunch of other fish that call the river home. Even better, the weather was perfect, and it felt like we were going to have a nonstop-action kind of day.
So I loaded up on the bait – green crawlers, plain crawlers, sucker minnows, and fatheads. We parked off a two-track road, hiked down a hill, and set up shop on a big bend in the river. The water, less clear than I hoped, brushed past at a pretty good clip. It didn’t look as good overall as I expected, but it’s pretty hard to get skunked fishing live bait in a river so we started fishing. For two hours we waited for a bite in-between catching frogs, netting minnows, and eating candy. While getting skunked seemed pretty hard, it wasn’t impossible. We had done it.
Since I had a lot of bait left and just enough common sense from fishing rivers my whole life, I decided we needed a change of pace. The following day we headed to a nearby lake chock-full of largemouth, sunfish, and crappies. The girls wanted to play at the lake-side park first, so I headed to the water’s edge and waded out. A bluegill bit first, and then a crappie took my minnow so I hiked back to the playground. Once the girls, and my wife, were ready to go I waded out to where I could cast into a few pockets in the emerging weeds. When my bobber and light sucker minnow hit, I backed up and told Jo to get ready. Within 15 seconds a largemouth inhaled the minnow, and we fought him through the milfoil all of the way to shore.
Then it was Lila’s turn. Another sucker minnow, another good largemouth. It was simple, stupid fishing that makes sense in late May. We caught a couple of sunfish and a few more crappies, too, which meant the action was steady and they had a blast. It made me feel a little silly for looking at a river that I suspected would provide tough conditions but forcing it anyway when a sure-thing lake was so close. I’ll probably make that mistake again countless times in my life, but maybe not when I’m towing a pair of 4-year-olds around. I learned a good lesson last weekend, and I hope it'll stick.