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Devlyn Brooks, Published June 09 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Dad tackles fishing with kids

I enjoy fishing and I enjoy being with my kids, but the jury is still out on whether I enjoy fishing with my kids.

I blame my father for all this ... and even his father before him. I come from a long line of anglers, who enjoyed fishing more than anything.

From the time we were just guppies, Brooks kids were indoctrinated into the sport. Yes, fishing is in our blood, and it is family law that father must pass along that love to his kids.

Recently, two of my brothers and I took five of the next Brooks generation fishing at this little puddle south of Bemidji, Minn. It’s a scenic lake, formed in the bottom of a former quarry, and just deep enough to keep a few pan fish alive.

Now, I’ve fished with my kids and learned that a 1-to-2 adult-child ratio during fishing puts the adult at a marked disadvantage. But on our trip I figured a 3-to-5 adult-child ratio gave us a fighting chance. ... And I was wrong.

Between tying and baiting hooks, unsnagging lines from the weeds and unhooking fish that had to be thrown back, my brothers and I never stood a chance. One brother was tied up with the youngest of the kids, who needed one-on-one assistance. And that left two of us for the other four kids, two of whom are nearing the independent stage, which only served to embolden them to cast into weed-choked bays best not fished.

Then there was the Bug, my youngest son: He needs someone to bait his hook because he won’t touch those “nasty” things and he’s still confused about the fact that we fish to keep ’em, not fish to feed ’em.

In between snags and snares and broken lines and lost hooks, we three older Brooks did hook a few sunnies ourselves. Otherwise, our afternoon was devoted to running from one end of the shore to the other, just keeping ahead of our would-be Babe Winkelmans.

Thankfully, even with all those fishing hooks flying, pliers working and buck knives cutting, no one was seriously injured.

I might have even been the only one who bled, which happened when trying to get the Bug’s SpongeBob SquarePants-themed fishing rod in working order. Moving faster than I should have been, I lost concentration and jammed a fish hook into my middle finger.

After doing what some might have described as a very primitive rain dance and teaching the next Brooks generation some of the colorful language I learned in the press room at my first newspaper, the rod was rigged up and the Bug was good to go. And I’m proud that rather than lose my cool, I managed to squeeze a small chuckle through my grinding teeth when the Bug informed me that I had to re-bait his hook because the fish weren’t going to bite a minnow soaked in my blood.

Man, I can’t wait to convince my kids how much fun it will be for them to take their kids fishing.

Devlyn Brooks is a news editor at The Forum. He lives with his two sons in Moorhead and blogs about parenting at www.areavoices.com/singledad.