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Father’s Day brings some new traditions

SarBowman landed bluegill/catfish double Father’s Day outing Braidwood Lake. | Dale Bowman~For Sun-Times Media

Sara Bowman landed a bluegill/catfish double on a Father’s Day outing at Braidwood Lake. | Dale Bowman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:26AM

My daughter, Sara, gave the obligatory scream of ‘‘Eww.’’ American culture, I swear, teaches girls they at least must feign fear of snakes.

This snake was a doozy. What looked like a watersnake was trying to engulf a good-sized bluegill on the north bank of Braidwood Lake.

At 11, Sara has been around enough snakes with me and her brothers not to really be scared. We took our time to marvel at the snake taking on a huge meal. Well, until Sam, our youngest at 7, tried to be all boy and pick up the snake with a stick.

Now, I enjoy my regular Father’s Day traditions of grilling something special or my couple of hours of uninterrupted TV/nap time watching the Sox game or the U.S. Open as much as always. But the last couple of years, the youngest two and I have been going fishing together.

It has become a perfect Father’s Day event, down to the traditions of turning over a couple of shovels of garden to get some earthworms to put in a coffee can and stopping at a bait shop for red worms and wax worms. The bait-shop stop was extra special when the owner invited the ever-inquisitive Sam back to look at the suckers in his tank.

The red worms and wax worms went on ice in the Igloo on top of the turkey and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and small cans of Squirt and Bug Juice.

I choose Braidwood because I know we will catch small channel catfish and bluegills. But Sara, who caught her first real largemouth bass on a spinner bait this spring, is ready to try something more challenging. Next year.

With the wind Sunday, I went without floats and just did a double-hook setup above split shot (adjusted as needed). For Sara’s desire to get a big catfish, one rod was set with a half-ounce sinker and cast deep. I also set up a light rod with 6-pound line with a small jig. She is at the point where she likes the action of working a jig and has become good at it.

She caught most of our 20 or so bluegills, channel catfish, green sunfish and shad. The catfish were Braidwood’s typical small ‘‘fiddlers.’’ But I was impressed that they landed four keeper-sized bluegills. One gut-hooked bluegill went on ice with the sandwiches and drinks.

Sara even landed her first double of bluegill and catfish. Sam was more intent on following the watersnake around and hurling rocks into the lake, but he caught some fish, too.

When Sara became more interested in other shoreline actions, I knew: It was time. Better to cut the kids’ fishing trip short than stretch it too long.

Years slide into memory. I hope to collect enough memory catches — defining moments — to last my life.

Wild things

Do others also think mulberries and raspberries are fewer and smaller this year? Another impact of the record March heat?

Stray cast

The Cubs-Sox series is beginning to feel like the pond or creek you learned to fish as a kid: not as big or deep as remembered.

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