When you think of the outdoors, what memories come rushing back to you? Where in time are you transported to?
I grew up fishing. I can take you right to the spot where I caught my first fish. I can tell you it was a largemouth bass that was caught on a worm suspended under a red and white bobber. It was a small stream off of some dirt road in Missouri. Polk county to be exact. It was just a few short miles from the town of Pleasant Hope.
However that is not the memory that I jump to. Fast forward a few years. I am on my grandfathers pontoon boat with my family. I am not talking a few people, but my grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad, and cousins. Everyone had a line out in the water. It looked like opening day on this pontoon boat with all the rods that were there. We were fishing on the Taneycomo lake in Branson, MO. We were getting ready to wrap it up when I decided to try a worm. I don’t remember us catching much that day. We were throwing an assortment of powerbait and other artificial goodness to the trout that inhabit the waters below the Table Rock Dam. I figured one last cast…one last ditch effort may just be what I need. Sure enough I got hooked into a fish.
This fish though was unlike any fish that I have caught before. It was running like no other fish that I have had the pleasure of having on the end of my line. Of course it wants to run where all the other lines are in the water. My family was desperately trying to reel in their lines, but of course it is to no avail. I got tangled up. With some luck I was able to get free and get the fish to the boat.
It was a beautiful brown trout. Other boats pulled up congratulating me on the catch. I was excited to have caught the biggest fish of the trip and I couldn’t wait to eat him later that night. The thing is though…for us to keep that fish it had to be 20 inches. The fish taped out to be 19.5 inches. Talk about heart break. The last thing I wanted to see as a kid was my prize catch swimming away. We had no choice to let it go. It struggled for a bit to regain strength. I hated watching the fish fight for it’s life even though I was ready to eat it.
This is the memory I go to. Even though I have caught fish just as large and a few larger, this was the first. This was the one that my mind goes to. A scrawny little kid and brown trout. At that young age a 19 inch fish seemed like a world record. I hope to create lasting memories like this with my children as they grow older. My parents never fly fished. I kinda fell into that on my own, but they did put the passion for the outdoors in me and that is something that I will be eternally grateful for.