The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 17, 2012

Monson: Fishing outing with son makes a father's day

By Doug Monson
Free Press Staff Writer

— Took my oldest son fishing Friday. This is something we don’t get to do as much anymore because he is growing up so fast and his plate is more full than ever.

I suppose my plate is pretty full, too, and with the addition of a little brother a little more than a year ago, well, time with him isn’t what it used to be.

But he still loves fishing, and for that I am ever grateful.

So on Friday, with a rare afternoon off, I asked Tyler if he wanted to go fishing.

“Of course,” he said as he poured a glass of ice tea.

He’s getting so old, especially the way he speaks. Sometimes I feel like he’s a little adult, not five going on six.

“Do you want to use lures, or bait?”

He paused to think about it, and then he asked if we could fish with minnows.

I’m a fan of lures, not bait. Part of my angst is that in order to get bait, I have to drive halfway across town to The Bobber Shop or Gander Mountain, and that takes time away from fishing. But the better part of me knows that in order for fishing to be fun for a kid, the fish need to be biting.

So after a 40 minute trip for bait, we were off to my favorite honey hole.

Now, I’d had a stressful week, and deep down I just wanted to fish, but those damn minnows just kept getting in the way.

“Daddy, I got one,” he said before I even grabbed my pole. Down I went and sure enough, he’d caught a nice little bass, which happened to inhale his minnow. So off I sent Tyler to grab another minnow from the bucket.

When he came back, I asked him to hold his fish so I could snap a picture.

“No way, Daddy.”

“What? You can’t be a fisherman if you can’t hold the fish.”

“Yuck. They’re too slimy.”

Frustrated, I threw the fish back, hooked up the next minnow, and he was back in the water. Before I could turn around, he was excited again.

“Get the net, Daddy, I think this is gonna be a big one.”

The big one was another bass, maybe 12 inches. To save us all time, this is how the next three hours with my son went. I bet in the first hour and a half, I made maybe five casts, somehow with a bass to show for it all.

Near the end of the day, Tyler suggested we should fish over at this other spot that he knows I like to fish. I really wasn’t down for the idea, only because it meant packing up our gear, hiking through brush and trees and unpacking

But because he asked, we went.

The bite wasn’t nearly as good there, which for me meant many more casts than I was expecting. Maybe five minutes had passed before Tyler informed me we should head back to the other spot, because the place by the tree was “the bomb with minnows, Dad.”

I asked him for five casts before we went back, and he told me I could take 10 if I wanted. I didn’t need 10. I didn’t even need five. On the second cast, I felt a smack on my Clackin’ Rap that gave me a jolt of adrenaline.

“Get the net,” I said to Tyler before he even knew what was happening. The fish stayed low, taking my line where it wanted.

“This is gonna be a big one, Tyler. Get ready.”

Tyler was tucked next to my leg, net in hand. And then a violent explosion at the top of the water followed by a monster bass, its tail dancing on the water before going back under.

“Wow, Daddy, did you see how big that was?”

Tyler was still tucked next to me, watching the battle ensue. The bass made a line for a half-submerged log, and I could do nothing to turn his head toward me. He thumped the log, and for a moment, I thought I’d lost him. And then the reality set in that he’d tied himself up on a log.

He wouldn’t budge, not left, not right. I kept the tension on, walking back and forth on the shore to work him free. Eventually it worked, and the fight was back on, but not for long.

The tired fish was coming in, but sensing another run, I asked Tyler for the net.

“But I want to do it, Daddy.”

I could hear the disappointment in his voice. Without flinching, I grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him to my side.

“This is what you’re gonna do. When I pull him in, dip the net below the fish and pull up. Don’t bump him, bud.”

It took two tries but we pulled the beast in. We high-fived and did goofy dances and then we pulled the fish out and measured it — 21 inches. My scale was dead, so I can only say it is the second longest bass I’ve ever caught in my life (though only an inch shorter than the largest and possibly heavier), and I did it with the help of a my little netman.

I knew that fish was one of the biggest bass I’d ever had on my line, and I could have taken the net from him, could have brought that fish in much easier. But how cool is the story now that I can say my son netted one of the biggest bass I’ve ever caught?

My wife asked me if there is anything special I want to do for Father’s Day. I’d say that I’ve already done my something special.

Doug Monson is a Free Press copy editor. He can be reached at 507-344-6352 or by email at