I received an E-mail from a young boy who was interested in going out on a guided trip with me. He told me that he had seen me on TV and had visited my website several times and that he was saving up his money from cutting lawns and helping out around home so he could go fishing with me. He asked me how much the trip was going to cost and I told him that it was $225 for a five-hour trip. He told me that he had only about half of the money and he would call me when he had the rest. I did not give it too much thought because I receive a lot of E-mails from people inquiring about guided trips out on Lake Winnebago.
Well, about 2 months later I receive a call that this young boy had all the money and wanted to book a trip. I looked in my book and discovered I had an opening in just a few days. He checked with his parents and then said he would take it. I asked him who was coming along with him since it was a trip for two people. He replied that his parents had to work on that day and that he would ride his bike down to the boat landing and meet me at 7 A.M. I checked with his father and his Dad said that would be fine.
The day of the trip arrived and there was” Bobby” all smiles from ear to ear and ready to go fishing for walleyes. We jumped in the boat and headed out to fish the west shore reefs on Lake Winnebago. It was not too long and Bobby had a fish on. He was so excited to be in a “cool boat” and actually catching fish. He asked me almost every possible question he could think of the whole time we were out there. This young boy was truly in paradise and he was a die-hard for sure. He had a lunch packed but never once did he stop fishing for a sandwich or a soda, the kid just kept fishing. He told me that he was now going to save up some more money and go to the store and buy some lures like me and some fishing poles like I own. I told him it may take a lot of lawns to cut to buy some of this stuff and he just laughed and kept on fishing.
We ended up the morning with a limit of nice walleyes and a few bonus perch tossed in for good measure and headed back to the landing. I tossed his bike in the back of the truck and drove him to my house where I clean all the fish for my customers. He walked into the garage and was in awe as he saw all the pictures of my past customers and all the fishing gear in the garage. He once again started in with a million questions and I answered every one of them the best I could. This kid just loved the whole scenario. After snapping a few pictures and hanging his picture on the garage door, cleaning up his fish and putting them in his backpack I told him I had to get ready for my afternoon trip. He asked me what time I would be home later that night. I replied that I would be here about 8 P.M. He wanted to ride his bike back over to see what we caught that afternoon and I told him sure if it was ok with his folks. He paid me for the trip and drove off on his bicycle.
I took my new clients out in the afternoon and we jigged the reefs some more and in no time we had a nice limit of fish for them. I could not keep any fish in the afternoon because I already had my five from the morning trip. I think we ended up with about 40 walleyes in that afternoon trip and a few other fish tossed in. We finally had to quit and headed back in. I took my clients to my house and to my surprise there was Bobby just waiting to see what we caught. He jumped in the boat and asked if he could get the fish out of the live well. I told him sure. He then started to explain how “we” clean fish and where “we” fished and showed my clients everything in the garage, including his picture and what pole he used in the morning. My clients that fished with me in the afternoon could not believe how excited this kid was and how much he just loved to fish. I went into the house to rinse off their fish and package them up. I thanked them for coming and they left my house to head home. Bobby was still there and wanted to know what “we” were going to do next. I told him “we” have to clean up the boat and get it ready for tomorrow. He helped me do it all. He washed windshields, vacuumed the floor cleaned out live-wells, the whole bit. I do not think the boat was ever that clean.
As he was cleaning the boat I went into the house and found a brand new small tackle box and filled it up with some lures, bobbers, hooks and some basic things for him to take home. I also placed his envelope of loose coins and wrinkled up dollar bills from mowing lawns back into the bottom of the tackle box. It was getting pretty dark outside so I offered him a ride home and he said sure. We loaded up that bicycle into the back of the truck and headed over to his house only a few blocks away from my own. When we got to his house I told him I had a few things for him to take home with him. I dropped the tailgate and took his bike out then handed him a brand new tackle box filled with everything and also gave him one of my rods and reels. He could not believe it. He put his bike away and came out to grab the tackle box and rod and reel and I told him not to open the tackle box until you get in the house. He agreed. He called for his mom and dad to come out and see his new pole and new tackle box and then said thank you to me. I told him thank you for helping me all day and drove away.
I can only imagine what went through that young boys head when he opened that tackle box and saw all the lures, bait, line and tackle that was in that tackle box and also to see his hard earned money on the bottom of it. I also placed a note in the bottom of the box that read:
Thank you so much for reminding me what it is like to go fishing, have fun and act like a kid again. You were the guide today.
Folks, the kids are our future and we need to keep them involved. Please do me all a favor, take a kid fishing and get them hooked on the sport we all love. Take care, God bless and I will see you all on the water real soon. This is AXL and I’m OUT!