I was fortunate to grow up in a household that spent time in the great outdoors camping and going on adventures.  It’s what we did.

Every summer we went on a week-long camping trip with several families from the church at a special lake.  B-12 was our favorite campsite, stayed there many times over the years.  Many of these memories are from over the years that went by and the stories told.  This was a place I went to every year until I was 10. 

fishing lake

The campground was situated next to a large lake on the way toward the mountains. Full of cold snow melt water fed by the river flowing into the lake.  Every day was spent swimming in the lake, hiking in the woods, and even going out on a boat for inner tube rides.  However, my favorite time was between 6 and 11AM. 

We would load up into the van with all of our fishing gear and go to one of the rivers or streams nearby to fish for Rainbow Trout.  

Mom’s daily was a 1980 Ford Econoline. It’s what we drove when we went camping.  We still laugh about that van to this day.  She drove this beast all over the place with three boys, a dog, and usually a couple of our friends for years.  Mom was always down for an adventure.  She even grabbed the gun from the boat cabin the day I landed a giant Blue Marlin, but that story is for another day.

econoline adventure van

I was the youngest of three.  So early on I was often left behind at camp while my dad, my uncle, and my brothers and cousins would head out in the morning to go fishing.  They would come back with big, bright rainbow trout and I would look at them in awe as they got rolled in flour and pan-fried for lunch.  Always on a cast iron skillet set a top the big green Coleman camp stove, next to large pot of boiling water for cowboy coffee.

I had learned to cast already.  My dad set me up with a bobber and weight and no hook.  He  taught me to push the button and time the release on he cast forward to make the bobber fly.  

I was told that I begged and pleaded a lot to go fishing and one day put up a pretty big fit about it.  They decided the following day I would be allowed to come to the river.  They left early in the morning, so as a little dude, soon turning 4, I was asleep when the van rolled out of camp.  I woke up while sleeping on the large chair in the van, parked along the side of the road next to the trail to the water.  My mom was reading in the van and dad and the bros had already started fishing.  

I was upset they started without me, I ran to the river crying that I wanted to catch a fish.  

So after I calmed down from being upset about being left behind, my dad helped me get my Zebco rod & reel rigged up with a nightcrawler.  We fished with worms, marshmallows, and salmon eggs.  These were the days before powerbait.

With my dad by my side, we walked over the river rocks slowly toward the water.  Past the large stick, stuck in the rocks with a stringer and several fish tied to that had already been landed. 

rainbow trout

I started to cast.  I was finally fishing. That little red and white bobber was bouncing around on the water as it floated by.  I can’t remember how many casts it took, but at one point my dad started yelling reel, reel, you got one!

I can’t remember at all whether it was a small one or a nice size one.  I caught a fish, that was what mattered!  I was finally one of the boys.  

I have had the privilege of being out on the water with many friends when their kids caught a first fish.   Seeing young boys and girls get to experience the tug of a fish for the first time and the amazement in their eyes when they hold their first fish is something that I truly enjoy.  As they get older the adventures go from chasing bluegills to handing off the rod on a hot tuna and get to watch them conquer the challenge.

catching first fish

This first firsh sparked a fire inside me and a love of being out on the water that still burns strong today. Even now I show up to the dock 15 minutes earlier than planned cause I’ve never wanted to be left behind again. That memory of being left in the van while the fish were biting will never fade and keeps me going on tough bites cause I know someone, somewhere is getting the fish to chew.

I know many of you have a memory of the first fish that you caught. Whether it was a trout, a bluegill, a bass, or something else, it was likely on a fishing adventure with dad, grandpa, or another family member. Special memories.

It doesn’t take much to get a young kid out on the water fishing. I am a huge fan of the classic push button spincast rod for kids. Whether you have a ton of fishing experience or never have gone yourself. Getting your kid on a fish is straightforward.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my fishing and camping past.

Subscribe to stay connected with the Jungle Pursuit for more stories and in depth articles on how to enjoy the outdoors and if you pick up a rod and reel to learn some new tricks to be part of the 10% of anglers that catch 90% of the fish.

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