Just got back from a trip to northern Lake Michigan. The best fish of the trip was caught by my 7 year old and it was his first Great Lakes Steelie.
So here's the story:
At 6:00 am one morning I woke up to a tap on my shoulder and my 7 year old saying "DAD, Let go fishing!". So I rolled out of bed, got dressed (he was already geared up) and got myself together for a morning of fishing in the cold grey drizzle of northern Lake Michigan. We were on vacation for three weeks and so far, the weather, and the fishing, had been pretty poor. He said he wanted to go to the Bear River, just below the waterfall, so off we went. We fished over the railing at the bottom of the falls for about 10 minutes. He cast into the current again and said, "DAD! My reel broke!". The nut had come off the post holding the handle arm onto his Zebco 202. I said, "Just push it back on when you need to. It'll still turn." and BLAM!!!! He yelled, "DAD! DAD! I GOT A FISH!" His rod was doubled over and line was flying off the reel, so I looked into the water to see a fish surface then arch back down... and more fish, and more fish, and more fish... I said "HOLY CRAP, BOY! HANG ON!" He set his drag. Every time the fish would run, he pushed the reel handle back onto the post and let the drag do its job. Every time the fish came at him, he reeled in like a pro trying desperately to keep a tight line. This went on for 10 minutes with me jumping up and down like a school girl, shouting totally stupid things like, "You'll tire him out soon!", and "Keep that line tight!". Finally the fish started to get tired and I realized the net was still in the car. I said in a panic, "I'll get the net! I'll get the net! I'll be right back!". He got this calm, confident look I'd never seen on him before. I knew it would all be O.K., so long as I got the net and didn't trip over my own feet and knock myself out in the middle of the street. I got the net. I extended the telescoping handle all the way to 8 feet. It just reached the water and then the fish surfaced, spent. It took me 5 or 6 attempts to fit it into the net against the current of the waterfall, but I did what a dad was supposed to do and got that monster in there. I hauled it up over the railing and flopped it onto the grass and the celebration began! 31 inches and 8.5 pounds! He's been after a fish as big as Dad's leg for a while now and he finally did it. I Don't know who was more proud, me or him!