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My daughter provides me with memories — and fish — to cherish

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Updated: June 29, 2014 6:36AM

TABLE ROCK LAKE, Mo. — When my daughter called, I figured she was making a joke from the basement of my in-laws’ home.

But she was on shore of Table Rock Lake and said: ‘‘Pops, get down here. The big bluegills and turtles
are in.’’

There are some things I don’t understand with a teenage daughter. Taylor Swift comes to mind. But there are some things I know. I will hang on to moments such as Sunday, to that hour of fishing for bluegills, pumpkinseeds, largemouth bass and crappie.

But there’s a practical side to making lifetime memories in fishing.

For the trip, I packed three rods and reels. I had a medium-action Falcon rod with a 10-pound monofilament on an Abu Garcia spinning reel for bass fishing.

For panfish, I had light Penn and Falcon rods, both with Shimano spinning reels with 6-pound mono. I prefer 4-pound for panfish, but 6-pound works better for kids.

I had No. 10 hooks, split shot and slip floats. But my daughter, Sara, and her friend Liz Duby are teens. They know how to fish, so I chose green 1/32-ounce Crappie Pro jigs.

My plan was to tip the jigs with red worms, but my father-in-law said to grab crappie minnows, too. Glad he did. The bigger fish came on the minnows. The girls caught about equal numbers of fish on red worms as on minnows.

Yes, I baited their hooks and unhooked the fish. They carve out their girl space in the outdoors world.

While I set up rods at the dock, they walked around and spotted turtles, bass, shad, bluegills and crappie. I took great joy in that.

Then things got even better — good enough that I never had time to rig up my own rod. As a dad, that is the best damn time of all.

They missed the first few fish. I suggested they sink the baits faster to get past the smaller fish higher in the water column.

It began a string of rapid-fire catches of flamboyant pre-spawn bluegills and pumpkinseeds. But once, while I baited Duby’s jig, I noticed my daughter with her rod bent in the classic ‘‘C.’’ With pride, I watched her reel in a decent largemouth bass, give it the proper respect, then release it.

While they walked around and found new spots, I tried to keep up. When they neared two dozen fish landed, the bite slowed. Interest waned. Their focus shifted to going swimming.

It was time.

Maybe the most practical advice of all in fishing with kids is knowing when it is time.

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