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A quick switch from jealousy to pride

Last week, I wrote about the first part of my family’s trip to the Panama City, Fla. area. If you recall, the weather was unseasonably cold and the fishing so far had been less then stellar. In fact, it was quite horrible.

My boys were curious as to why and how the weather impacted the fishing. I had told them that if we had three to four stable days the fishing would improve. They asked me if stable meant warm. I thought that was a great question.  

I explained to them that stable does not have to mean warm, all it means is that the weather is consistent for several days. It is the drastic and sudden changes in weather than can really send the bite into a tailspin, but anytime the weather remains constant, things usually turn around.

On the Thursday of our trip, we got kind of a late start. I’ll be honest. We didn’t launch the boat until almost 11 a.m. That is really late for a fisherman. It was taking me a while to get going in the morning. It was vacation, right?

The night before, as I tried to sleep, I pondered what tactic to try. Since I was fishing a new lake, I wanted to cover as much area as I could. I wanted to move at a quick pace to develop a pattern. Where would the fish be hanging out? What type of cover would they be relating to? At what depth would they be hanging?

I was confident that the fish wanted to spawn. This meant after a few days of consistent temperatures, they should be moving back up into the shallow parts of the lake, or at least the smaller male fish should be in preparation for fanning out spawning beds.

At the boat launch, I decided to rig everyone up with spinnerbaits. These lures are perfect for fishing a variety of cover and can be used to search out fish at a relatively quick pace. They cut through vegetation without much trouble and can also bounce around and over wood cover. They are also easy to cast and retrieve.

We jetted to a small little bay we had discovered the day before. It looked “fishy.” It was full of weeds, had real nice deep water access and was just off of the main lake. The three men stood up on the casting deck and proceeded to barrage the shoreline.

As we neared a small, inconspicuous dock, I pitched my lure just to the outside corner. About halfway back to the boat, the thing jumped. “Hmmm, I’m pretty sure I just had a fish drill this lure,” I stammered to myself.

Cody, the ever astute and opportunistic angler, heard my mumblings and promptly pitched his lure in the same area. Soon, a frantic “Got one” sliced through the late-morning silence. That little turkey. He stole my fish.  

Luke smiled. He could see my expression. “Dad, he learned that little steal-the-bite trick from you," he said.

Of course, he was right. My brother and I had done that to each other hundreds of times over the years. Now, my two young anglers have continued the tradition, and someday their children will do the same to them.

As that realization hit me, my jealously of Cody hauling aboard the first fish from Florida soon melted away and a swelling pride inflated me instead.  hese were my two sons. They were fishing like seasoned anglers. They are light years ahead of where I was at their age.

In addition to just enjoying the outing, we were also videotaping the entire experience. My wife was the ultra-busy camera operator. When we returned home, she had captured over 200 separate clips from our trip.

Soon, I will have a new website launched with all kinds of outdoors experiences for everyone to enjoy. There will be video segments, blogs, e-books and lots of other information. With these tools, I will be able to share the beaming look and endless smiles that I get to see with all of you, and in turn, you will be able to share your experiences with me.

The more often that we can share our stories with each other, the more we will be inspired to take the time and get into the outdoors on a regular basis. The Panama City trip turned out awesome in so many ways. Campfires, fishing with alligators and other incidents will make the trip always memorable.

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