Probably six years ago now, my husband Doug and I took 5 small grandchildren on a fishing day trip to Mount Baldy, CA. The children ranged in age from 4 to 12 I believe 1 was 4, 2 were 5, 1 was 6 or 7 and 1 was 12 if memory serves. Were we crazy? Probably, but nevertheless, loaded all of them in our old, but trusty, 3 row Ford Expedition and headed up the mountain. The kids were full of excitement and we were too. It is wonderful having adventures with your grandchildren!
We chose Mt Baldy for their first fishing experience because over 20 years ago my husband had taken his 3 young girls on this same excursion. We also chose this location strategically. We wanted them to have success. This particular spot was family owned and consisted of small ponds versus a big lake. Doug was confident this would be much easier for them and more fun. My husband is all about fun which is why the grandkids all love him so much. Finally, we chose this spot for security. We had a lot of kiddos to keep an eye upon.
We made our way up the winding mountain road arriving about 1 ½ hours later safe and sound. From the street, it looked small and appeared that we could have easily missed it altogether so I wasn’t sure what was in store for us. Nevertheless, we poured out of the car, kids, fishing poles, and snacks, and headed for the toll booth on the side of a small, redwood painted office /cashier building. There were 3 separate ponds. One contained small fish and was closed, one had medium fish, and one large. Looking at the pricing and the rules, we found you could not throw any fish back, but had to pay if you caught one. The prices were calculated in inches based on the length of the fish. We choose the medium pond. They provided bate that looked like play dough. Doug was in charge getting the poles ready including baiting the hooks.
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Running alone the front of the office was the medium pond. We excitedly found a spot to get settled. Doug started preparing the poles. Doug had purchased a pole for each one of the children. He had a job getting them working properly. Finally, though, the first was ready, Mia had the honors. I helped her cast the line into the water. It was an unbelievable site! Immediately the trout were almost climbing on top of each other to get the bait off of that hook. I thought they would just swim over the side of the pond onto the sidewalk they were so anxious to be caught! The water was so thick with fish, you could have almost walked across them. Needless to say, we caught a fish in about 10 seconds. The second pole wasn’t even rigged yet. We were in trouble. The same thing happened when we threw the next line in and the next and the next! Doug couldn’t work fast enough to keep all the kids occupied. These weren’t small fish and my mind was calculating the price per inch as each trout came up out of the water. This trip was going to be very expensive and would be over in 15 minutes! Eventually Doug had the great idea of loosening the drag on the line so that the kids would have more of a fight. It worked. Each fish was taking a few minutes instead of seconds! We wanted the adventure to last a couple hours at least! It was a hoot, and not a little chaotic! Especially when they wanted to try casting on their own. It is a miracle no one lost an eye. Gav did catch Mia’s headband and yanked it off. Sean caught an old rusty tractor on the others side of the fence. Sienna was bored almost immediately and went and laid on a nearby bench.
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Doug put each catch on a stringer and put them in a pail of water. Mia kept lifting the stringer in and out of the water. Gavin was so sad and wondered why the fish had blood on its mouth. I went to look at the fish crammed into the large bucket with their heads all facing up, mouths opened. As I tried to figure how to respond to that question, I noticed something unusual in the mouth of one fish, a small green object. Looking at the next, I saw the same thing except blue. Sure enough, all of them had the same object in their mouth just different colors. I questioned out loud, “what is in their mouths?” As only Sean could, he said he gave them each a colored Gold Fish cracker! When I asked him “why?”, he replied, “I thought they were hungry!”
We packed up, paid for our fish and to our joy found they were all cleaned for us and put on ice. Yeah! Loading up we made our way back down the mountain singing and making jokes. All the parents met us at the house for a barbeque. None of the kids wanted to eat their fish. They all wanted hamburgers!
Oh well, great memories!
Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.