2017 North Ridgeville Corn Festival, Fishing Derby

A happy Bryce, ready to catch some fish

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – The past few weeks, I had gotten the kids pretty excited over the upcoming fishing derby that takes place as part of the North Ridgeville Corn Festival.  The derby is ran by some of the nicest folks you could ever meet, the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.  While I had a great time last year (you can read that post here), I was especially excited for this year’s derby as my daughter was now old enough to participate.  With both kids eager to attend, and the idea of sharp hooks and only daddy supervision, I knew my wife would be joining us.  While my wife is deserving of a nice Saturday morning to sleep in, I was thrilled to have the entire family with me.  The fishing may not be of much interest to her, but the cabbage and noodles, chicken paprikash, or deep fried pickles that awaited us when the fishing concluded, surely did!

Alexis and mommy waiting for the ‘big one’

Expectations always remain low for me at any formal fishing event.  My luck just usually is worse, if there is any type of extra pressure to have success.  Today would be especially bad due to having everyone with me and the fact that I had hyped it up so much with the kids.  In the end, I know time together is priceless, but a 5 and 3 year old having fun and being content requires catching fish.  Today that meant having all the gear needed (and more), and prayers!

Mommy and daddy enjoying Alexis, fishing isn’t just for Bryce

Despite my best efforts, the first few hours were typical… doing everything to keep just enough bites going so the kids didn’t fade on me.  I eventually determined I would try one rod, still-fishing off the bottom, while they continued their bobber fishing.  This new strategy didn’t provide any instant result, but after about 30 minutes I saw the rod getting some action.  A slight bend, and I handed the rod to Bryce.  I was shocked to see the rod bend in half and Bryce suddenly yelled, “It’s too heavy!”.  Initially, I thought a fish had simply thrown the hook into a submerged log or got him wrapped around some rocks or debris.  But after he asked me to help hold the rod with him, I could feel the heavy fish fighting.  I encouraged him he could do it, and he reluctantly took full control as I removed my hand from steadying the rod.  When I saw the fish jump, I knew it was a trophy, and desperately hoped he would succeed.  Not just for him, but for all of us – we really wanted to see this fish!  I took up the net and it was funny how he yelled which way the fish was heading (even though I could see).  I can’t begin to describe the angst I had while he was fighting the fish and then the overwhelming joy when he successfully brought the fish in.

Bryce’s big bass, the largest I have ever seen come from a small urban lake

My already rather fun day, suddenly turned epic.  Now that it was landed, I became more aware of my surroundings and could hear everyone fishing around us shouting “what did he get?!”.  I responded, “A huge Largemouth!”.  I was so excited for him and it was truly a surreal moment.  I came to my senses fast enough to know I wanted some quick pictures, before sprinting with it in a bucket, to the judges station.  I normally let Bryce carry the fish – or fish in the bucket, but I left him trailing behind me.  I wanted this fish to live.  Bryce did catch up by the time the fish was measured (at 20 and a half inches), and the fishing club did a couple more photos.  As much as I wanted to admire the catch – and let everyone else and Bryce admire it too, it needed to get back in the lake.  A few back and forth motions in the water, and the fish strongly swam away into the depths.  The exact ending I wanted for a fish giving my family a lifetime memory.  I pray it does this again for someone else, with the same outcome.

Happy kids assembling for the awards ceremony

After the catch, there was about 45 minutes until the event ended.  We were treated to seeing the largest fish of the derby getting caught, a 26″ Channel Catfish.  Thankfully, the polite young man who caught it was in an older age group, or Bryce would have been devastated that his catch wasn’t the largest.  There were a lot of ‘parenting moments’ as he dealt with his own sense of accomplishment, while having to be excited and happy for someone else.  I can’t recall ever noticing his competitiveness as much as today, when he kept asking whose catch was better.

Derby winners and runner ups

Bryce’s catch earned him a new fishing rod combo and loaded tackle tray.  While everyone was enjoying the drinks and hotdogs provided by the fishing club, I sought out a boy that didn’t win anything.  Unbeknownst to Bryce, I gave away his combo.  He was given one last year, and at 5, didn’t have the maturity to understand the right thing to do.  I was happy to make this kid’s day, as he didn’t leave empty handed.  It got even better, when the adults with him said he didn’t have his own fishing rod until now.  This banner day, couldn’t have ended better.

A parting shot of the big fish

Cleveland Metroparks, Wallace Lake Fishing Derby

BEREA, OH – With my wife out of town for work, I had a little assistance from the Cleveland Metroparks (www.clevelandmetroparks.com) with keeping the kids entertained today.  In what has become an annual tradition, we participated in a kids fishing derby at Wallace Lake.  These are very well organized, a lot of fun, and create some wonderful memories.  Staff and volunteers are always eager to assist in any way to help participants have a good time.  It never ceases to amaze me how Cleveland Metroparks Aquatic Biologist Mike Durkalec amidst all the logistics and chaos of the day – can give so many different kids some personal attention.  Pretty amazing.

Along with the tradition of going to these events, is my inexplicable tradition of not being able to help put my kids on fish during the event.  I really can’t explain it, but it reminds me to never consider tournament fishing.  If there is any degree of competition or I am ‘on the clock’ of an event, I do bad.  Thankfully, my kids are forgiving and there is enough going on that they still have a blast.  Maybe I need a big button that says “MEDIA” that I can wear, and claim my poor efforts are due to the distraction of covering the event.

I love the photos posted above.  The shot of my son and daughter with their arms around each other getting along, both smiling naturally (not the usual cheesy Bryce insists on) is captured very rarely.  I also loved seeing them admire some of the catches that make their way into the tank.  This is a very popular attraction for all the kids, not just mine.  I thought the huge 19.5″ bass was exceptionally kind to frame itself so nicely in my daughter’s photo.  That fish, was actually caught by a young girl similar in age to Alexis… surely others were dealing with the same thoughts I was of being excited for her while just a tad bit jealous!  What a catch!

Being in the Cleveland Metroparks never limits you to a specific a single type of wildlife.  We saw many neat creatures, critters, and animals of all types and sizes.  Of note, Great Blue Herons, Orioles, Egrets, turtles, and a toad.  My kids did not leave the event sad or disappointed they didn’t catch fish, instead I was treated to conversations throughout the day regarding everything they did see and do, and especially the toad.

Despite somewhat cool weather and overall tough fishing for most, attendance was pretty impressive.  This photo taken a few minutes before the morning session awards, shows only a small sampling of the population around the event area and doesn’t account for the numbers that  continued to fish.  I am glad so many people, with those kids, make it out.

I live about 20 minutes from Wallace Lake, this photo was 5 minutes after we left.  Needless to say, they were spent.  I love knowing they played that hard.

***UPDATE 5/26/17***

Shortly after we arrived, I recalled that we spoke to a gentleman who was covering the event.  It was Michael Iglewski, who runs a YouTube Channel “Michael Iglewski Outdoor Sports“.  The image capture above is from his event video which can be seen here.  I wish there was footage of us reeling in a monster, but that would have required epic editing skills as we didn’t catch anything.

Family man making for a fail fishing blogger

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH –  There are numerous websites that offer ‘professional’ advice to bloggers.  While I question some of the expert advice or even laugh at how the ‘professionals’ will contradict themselves, there is one thing they all agree on – it is never a good thing to go silent and not have new content posting at frequent or somewhat regular intervals.  I don’t disagree, and accept this as a fact.  The quandary that this has always put me in is my philosophy on when to write a post, “If I don’t have an at least marginally interesting story to tell, I don’t post”.  This is why my little blog will never rank that high on Google or any of the sites that score anything with a web address, I simply don’t post enough and the algorithms hate this.  I view people’s time as important and simply cant fathom the idea to mindlessly spew content to appear more legitimate in the ‘fishing world’ at the expense of the content being worse.

cwf11202016kidsThe lovely culprits… err blessings… that reduce fishing frequency

With a philosophy that is already pretty conservative about when to post, it increasingly works against me if I am not even out fishing to have an opportunity for something to happen worthy of a post.  I often wonder in my Instagram feed if the anglers are exceptional or is it simply they can fish a lot.  It also doesn’t hurt if those same folks live in places with exceptionally good water with good fish in it (especially true for those fortunate souls living on or near Saltwater).

At least I will say I have a wonderful reason for my low fishing frequency and the subsequent result of less chance for a post worthy happening.  This would be my amazing family.  I truly am blessed and wouldn’t change a thing.  As it relates to fishing, more than one dad has reiterated to me how fast time will go and that it is completely normal to have what feels like huge gaps in time not doing your previous recreations when you have a baby/babies.  I have already noted how fast time is going as my oldest is 5 and my youngest is 2.  My son is already demonstrating the ability to enjoy fishing with me and my daughter isn’t far behind.  I love the meme I see that circulates saying “Some people find a fishing buddy, I raised mine”.  In my case, I hope it’s fishing “buddies”.

cwf11202016jillMy wife recently fishing, a beautiful sight I haven’t seen in years

As my life now has taken me to nearly school age and a later stage toddler, I recognize some of the most around the clock constant supervision and demands are behind me.  While I am wise to know parenting and involvement never ceases (nor would I want it to), I also am acutely aware I am gaining ground on the ability to get out fishing.  I know my fishing experiences will often remain pretty remedial as they will likely often have kid(s) in tow, but I hope there will still be people who enjoy watching and reading along.  Maybe what they see will remind them of their own memories or for the younger audience, to see what might be ahead for them.

cwf11202016bryceA small fish provides simple joy and intrigue

Fighting a fish at the ‘big water’, Lake Erie

I’ve made it this far without giving up on blogging, it makes no sense to give up on it now.  It may very well turn out that for a period of time this blog will only serve the purpose of being a keepsake that my kids might enjoy one day.  For those that stick around through this period of time, I will continue to try to entertain, inform, and stumble upon some nice fish now and then.