Play Date on a Bay Boat
S ince our nine-year old boys were barely eight, Andrew Cloutier and I have tried to coordinate a fishing trip for ourselves and the three of them. His are a matched set, and I’ve got the one.
He works all week. I get Mondays and chunks of Fridays off but work weekends. The boys are in school when school’s in, which pretty much leaves holidays and/or vacation time as windows of outdoor opportunity.
We finally pulled it off this past Thanksgiving. The men were on vacation, and the boys were out of their classrooms on the same week. Andrew and I recognized this as a “now or never” chance for all five of us to fish together, finally, and we took it.
His identical twins play football. Mine’s a baseball player. Between the three of them, there’s not a single rudder or set of brakes. They’re boys head to toe, either full throttle or fast asleep, and they all like to fish.
“This will be easy,” I told Andrew beforehand. “We’ll get some live shrimp, sit on a hole full of fish, hang shrimp on hooks and let the kids have some fun.”
We met shortly after noon at his Galveston bay home, on the water, then made the short boat ride to a nearby marina for bait. That marina, Andrew was confident leading up to this postcard-perfect afternoon, always has live shrimp.
Except that day.
There was no “white flag” waving from the pole. They’d get a fresh supply, the attendant told me as if it would matter, around sunset.
Plan B, lure chunking, was put into action. Sort of.
Andrew runs a beautiful, roomy Pathfinder that’s perfect for three grown men, maybe four who really know what they’re doing. It’s fine also for two skilled adults helping three boys watch popping corks hung over live shrimp. Only we had no live shrimp. (I know why, and I’ll tell you later so you don’t make my mistake.)
We idled around a corner and drifted down the shoreline where Andrew and a buddy caught more than two dozen trout the same morning. They’d kept the six or eight that looked tastiest and were long enough for keeping, and he had pictures to prove it.
The Cloutier boys were rigged with Gulp! Soft plastics under corks, and mine opted for one of Bob Norton’s Sand Eels. Andrew and I stood like bookends at the bow and stern, keeping the boys’ baits in the water and making a few—emphasize few—casts of our own.
Action on the afternoon’s incoming tide didn’t match that of the morning’s outflow. We fought a good fight on that shoreline, but left with little to show for the effort.
The attention-span standard of measure for kids, about 10 minutes per year of age, is remarkably accurate. At more or less the 90-minute mark, the boys began to lose interest in not catching fish. If only there’d been a wide-open pasture adjacent to that shoreline.
So now we’ve got three bored, highly energetic boys in the middle of the boat. We moved, and the boat ride forced the boys to sit somewhat still for a few minutes. On the next stop, in water that looked “fishy” and had active bait, the boys passed on fishing.
I’m at one end, and Andrew’s back at the other. We’re both trying to hook fish so the kids can take turns winding them to the rod tips.
Meanwhile, the three little stooges are playing tag, rummaging through tackle boxes and storage lockers, and eating everything on board that’s edible. They’d be under my feet a while then migrate up toward Andrew. Then back to me, then in his way some more. Terrier puppies are less energetic.
High-strung as they are, though, these are well-behaved boys and responded (albeit temporarily) to an occasional insistence from Andrew or me that they settle. Andrew and I both coach sports teams. We know how to get boys’ attention, so we had that going for us if push ever had met shove. They were having the time of their lives, however, fish or no fish, and neither Andrew nor I was going to rob them of the experience.
Between us, Andrew and I scraped together enough bites to give each of the boys a couple of turns on bent rods. They all were happy.
Two minutes after we had the boat back in its sling, the boys were playing baseball in the vacant lot next door as if they’d just awakened from long naps.
About that bit of advice I promised. This past summer, I was told by a plumber (after I’d already said it) that saying “This will be easy” out loud—about anything—pretty much guarantees it will not be easy. That time, the utterance turned a $75 job into a $350 job.
I didn’t learn. A month later, I accidentally said the same thing when another plumber followed me into my mother’s house for an “easy” job. That one turned from a 20-minute, $90 repair into a three-hour, $500 replacement.
Andrew and I stood there, watching them play, and talked of another trip…for just the two of us.
Our schedules being what they are, and with that plumber’s words still echoing in my head, I know it won’t be easy.
Email Doug Pike at
Email Doug Pike at ContactUs@fishgame.com