So when my son Luke and I hit the water at 8 a.m. on a tiny local lake, I was bound and determined to figure out the stage of the largemouth bass spawn.
Almost immediately I spotted sunfish protecting beds, which usually means the largemouths are largely done spawning. But just to be sure the shallow-water bass bite was over, I pounded the bank with soft plastics, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and other topwaters.
After 2 hours and a half-dozen bass under my belt, I heard Luke say: "Dad, I haven't caught a fish yet. Can I catch some sunfish?"
Ooops . . . I'd made the cardinal sin as a fishing dad: forgetting that my most important job is getting my son on fish. So I put away my Texas-rig rod, left a deep-water bite that had produced two good-sized bass on consecutive casts and fired up the big motor to head to the shallows for some spawning sunfish.
And for the next 2 hours Luke had a ball sightfishing the sand for 'gills in 1-3 feet of water. I simply helped unhook fish that he couldn't handle on his own and took photos.
I knew I'd made the right decision to switch from bass to bluegills when during our evening family prayer (a time when each person says what their favorite part of the day was) Luke stated plainly: "Catching those big sunfish. Oh wait, God, I take that back: I mean seeing that giant carp swim past the boat, and shooting a rock at it with my slingshot. That was my favorite!"
The next time you take a kid fishing, remember to keep it all in perspective.