By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
It was a simple question in a magazine that started me thinking. I kept thinking mostly because I didn’t know the answer, but I should. How old were you when you caught your first fish?
A man should remember his first fish as much as he remembers his first kiss. Both should make you happy, nervous, and leave you wanting more.
I have narrowed it down to a few possibilities and will need a little further research to answer the question.
I remember a trip to Woods Creek Lake as a toddler when I probably spent more time eating Vienna sausage and drinking Nehi than fishing. We drifted close to a stand of trees, which to me was the only place worthy of any effort. I tossed a line over the side with a bobber and some random bait that did not require a bobber. The bait was barely and arm’s length away, but something bit it out of shock or sympathy. I pulled in the largest fish I had every caught. It may have been the only fish I had caught to that point.
I also remember fishing trips with my dad to Bee Rock or Laurel Lake. Sometimes we had one of our poorly named dogs with us in the boat, Chainsaw or Pumpkin. I don’t remember catching fish on those trips. Nor do I remember catching anything at Cane Creek or while wading Craigs Creek before it was swallowed by Laurel Lake. Those trips are always more about being together with family than catching a trophy.
I was still pretty small when I walked the creeks near my family’s home with my buddies. We sometimes took a fishing rod or cane pole. The butcher at Kwik Stop sometimes gave us the trimmings of meat for free. There is a chance my first fish came from a creek that flows into Little Laurel River. I would like to think the first fish I caught wasn’t a chub minnow.
I just can’t remember, so I will have to ask mom and dad. These moments stick with moms and dads.
I can tell you where my kids both caught their first fish. It was at the pond below my mom and dad’s house and it used to be one of the streams that flowed into Little Laurel. Maggie was wearing a fishing hat and ran halfway up the hill pulling the fish out of the water. Cassidy had a Snoopy reel and could not have been more shocked if she had pulled a great white from the pond.
This weekend calls for fair weather after what has been a chilling start to the new year. It won’t be long before the fish start to shake off the docile winter mood and their appetite grows. Put some new line on the Zebco 33. Stop somewhere and get crickets or worms. You will make a memory that you will never forget, even if they do.