Take the kids, leave the leeches

The local Optimist Club is hosting an event from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Worthington’s Chautauqua Park as part of Take a Kid Fishing weekend. There will be free hot dogs, free lemonade and even free bait, courtesy of Marv’s Bait Shop.

While I won’t have any kids to take fishing this Saturday, I enjoyed several outings with the nephews and nieces during my vacation last week. It could have been Take A Kid Fishing day every day, had I the patience for such a monumental task. Then again, if the fish had been biting, the kids wouldn’t have been so bored.

Nephews Zach and Blake experienced their first trip to Marv’s Bait — on separate outings. There, we bought the bait some of the locals said was required if we were looking for the ever-elusive walleye.

That would be leeches, for those of you who hadn’t heard the rumors.

Well, I’m not so fond of leeches, using them for the first time on a late July fishing trip to Alexandria last summer. While I detested putting them on the hook, I sure enjoyed reeling in the bass.

This time around, I had two teenage boys to impress. There would be no cringing, no squealing and no horrible reactions to pesky leeches latching onto my finger as I tried to thread the hook through their flailing body.

I was trying to be an aunt the boys could be proud of. I swallowed my fears.

I wish I could say the same for the boys. I had to bait their hooks — every single time.

Oh, I could tell you plenty of stories about the boys and their reactions to the slimy bait. One would hold his fingers over the container but never fully reach in to grab a leech. The other simply dangled an empty hook in front of my face until I put a new leech on it. Neither, of course, would want me to say any more about the issue.

Again, I’ll try to be a good aunt and abstain. It’s so difficult to do, though. I mean, I had perfect blog fodder here!

Suffice it to say, the leeches were pretty successful in drawing fish to the hook, albeit catfish.

Blake had a near panic attack when one yanked the bobber below the water. His fishing rod bent and his reel started to squeal. Ultimately, he handed me the rod and he grabbed the net. It was the biggest fish he ever, sort of caught.

On a different day, at a different lake, Zach was using a twister to taunt a bass he’d seen in the water near a public fishing pier. For nearly a half hour he tossed the lure out in front of, behind and at the fish.

I’d lost interest and was trying to find the panfish when Zach started to holler. The bass finally took the bait.

As all bass do, it put up a good fight until I swept it up in the net and hauled it from the water. The bass was bigger than either Zach or I imagined. In fact, it was the biggest bass Zach has ever caught.

So, there you have it. Two boys, two of their biggest catches and some stories that can be passed down to future generations — all because I took a kid fishing.

Summer’s here. Take the time to enjoy it!

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