“Papo, what happens to the wheels?”

     The question came from my seven year old granddaughter, Blaize, as we were putting a few rods and reels in my boat. I’ve been taking her on fishing trips for a couple years, but we had fished from a dock, a pier, the surf or from the shoreline.  This was to be her first outing on the boat, and it took me a few seconds to process what she said.

             Then it became perfectly clear.  She had only seen our boat on the trailer and didn’t realize the wheels weren’t part of the boat. I told her to wait a few minutes and she would find out what happens to the wheels. At the ramp, as the boat slid into the water, leaving the trailer (and wheels) behind, she suddenly understood.  Thus began an adventure of discovery, fishing and fun.

            I had been waiting a couple weeks for a warm, sunny and windless day to coincide with a day when Blaize would not be in school and this was it.   A few days earlier we were going to go out in the boat, but the wind was blowing so we fished in a nearby canal and caught a few speckled trout.

            But on this day, Charlotte Harbor was slick calm as we idled out of Burnt Store Marina and after a short run we eased through a break in the bar and into a creek that had never failed to produce fish.  Instead of working with the trolling motor and fishing around the mangroves, I dropped the anchor near the mouth of the creek.

            Blaize sipped a bottle of water and munched on some snacks while my wife Nell and I rigged up the tackle, then I showed Blaize how to dip a shrimp from the livewell.  Five minutes later she boated a good-sized speckled trout.  I unhooked it quickly while we talked about its funny looking teeth and black and white spots, then I eased the fish back into the water.

            Action was steady for more than an hour and the three of us worked like a team.  Blaize netted shrimp, Nell and I baited hooks and Blaize cranked in trout, ladyfish and pinfish. Then we were invaded by a swarm of hungry and very large catfish. Our designated angler caught way more catfish than I wanted to mess with, but she was having a ball and it gave us time to talk about all of the neat features of every fish we caught. Someday I’ll have to share the story about the pinfish she caught and named Susie.

            The bite slowed and I anticipated what would come next. “Papo, can we pull in the anchor and run for a while?” Blaize suggested, anxious for a boat ride.  Five minutes later we were cruising back to the marina, but the discovery continued.  

            Blaize squealed when she saw dozens of rays gliding under our boat in shallow water along the edge of the bar, laughed at what seemed like hundreds of mullet jumping everywhere and stared wide-eyed as we idled past groups of manatees slowly making their way out of the marina.

            It was a perfect adventure with just the right mix of beautiful weather, cooperative fish, great company and some pretty good snacks.  The only thing that would have made it better for Blaize would have been some Taylor Swift tunes in the background.  I’ll have to work on that for next time. 

A Fishing Adventure with Blaize