Young Fisherman Carson McKoin Has What it Takes
article by Dan Chason
The first time I met Carson McKoin, he was nine years old. His mom, Ellen was my doctor’s nurse/office manager and had asked me if I could help teach this young man some fishing techniques. I have had numerous requests such as this, but something about this kid was different. He didn’t want to learn the basics. He wanted to know not just how to cast, but where, why and how he was casting to a particular area. She and Carson (along with his brother) came by my house with rods and reels in hand. I showed them how a bait casting reel worked, and we practiced for a bit until both of them were able to cast without getting the dreaded bird’s nest. I told Carson to practice and when he was proficient, we would get together and go fishing. As they drove off, I figured that baseball, school and other attractants were going to interfere and he would probably not do as I asked him to do. I could not have been more wrong.
Ellen stayed in touch and relayed Carson’s progress but most of the conversation fell on deaf ears as it was interpreted as a Mom blinded by the love for her child. She called a couple of times to try and book a fishing trip, but my busy schedule got in the way. With school time approaching this year, I found an afternoon and told Ellen to bring him by, and we would wet a hook.
They showed up at my office, and my first impression was good. Carson was carrying five rod and reels. All of them were spotless. His lure selection was impressive, as he had a wide variety of lures that mimicked someone that knew what they were doing. His lures were safely secured in contrast to other anglers that have joined me who left them dangling at the tip. His large tackle box had a good choice of plastics and hard baits. Still, I figured his Dad or a seasoned angler had done it for him.
As we drove towards my house and the lake behind it, Carson soon took advantage of the travel time to pick my brain about fishing. He rattled off question after question. But his questions were not the normal ones that other 10-year-olds usually ask. His questions were more on the line of what an adult would ask me, when they are learning how to catch fish. Carson is a die-hard bass fisherman. As hard as I tried to sway him towards crappie, he was adamant that he wanted to catch bass. As my hair has turned more grey, my choice of prey has changed. I spent many a year chasing bass and to be honest, the just don’t present the same challenges as a crappie to me. I love crappie fishing with the added bonus of crappie making better table fare. But Carson would not budge. We loaded his gear into my boat, and as we put the last piece of tackle in, I heard the roll of thunder. You would have laughed at his expression as the look of disappointment was very apparent. I told him that thunder was a sign of that lightning had struck something and that we would have to wait until the thunder bumper passed before fishing.
Finally, the afternoon storm passed without raining on us, and we started our adventure. He talked about his recent fishing trips and how much he loved fishing with his dad, Jody. We talked about trophy bass for a minute, and the conversation then turned to our lesson for the day. When I asked him where we should start fishing, his little computer came on. He viewed the lake, ran his finger across his mouth and chose a point of protruding grass to attack. I asked him why, and he was right on the money. “That is where the bait fish hide so a bass isn’t far away.” He reached for a rod and sure enough, had a watermelon Senko ready, rigged whacky style. I smiled, as he had chosen the exact bait I would have chosen.
We fished across one stretch of bank and both of us missed a short bite. I knew it was most likely a goggle eye bream but was happy as it was still hot and early. As we neared what I knew was the creek, I asked him where the creek was in the lake. You could see his computer hit “Save” as I explained the big cypress trees and how they line the creek bank. I showed him what an inside grass line was and told him that even though it looked like we were in open water, there was a grass line and brush tops on that edge. I couldn’t resist and pulled out my Duck Commander Crappie Pole and put three crappie in the boat in three straight drops. Just as I turned to ask him if he really still wanted to bass fish, he set the hook. After landing a nice bass, he smiled and informed me that the bass were biting. I had to laugh, as he sounded just like me at his age. As he fought the bass, he added an unexpected line: “How can you wanna crappie fish ,when you could be doing THIS?”
It brought back memories of the many days, when I was a child and peddled my bicycle to the local pond to chase after bass. But this OCS 5th grader was exceptional. In less than two hours, he landed five bass on the Senko rig. I didn’t have to dodge hooks flying, didn’t have to worry about him stepping on my rods and most importantly, he understood not only what we were doing, but why, and he certainly knows how.
We finished the day just shy of dark, and nearing the end, I finally joined him with a Senko rig. I put five fish in the boat very quickly, which brought our total to fifteen fish, including my crappie. I started ragging on him to see what kind of competitive juices he had. I soon found out as he quickly informed me that he “didn’t brag until it was over, and he had won.”
What an exceptional young man. A gifted fisherman and hunter who was very respectful and a joy to be around. His parents and family should be proud, as you could certainly see that he was raised right. It is my opinion that in just a short time, the name Carson McKoin will be on the leader board of many tournament circuits. It was my pleasure to spend some time with him, and I am just proud to have been a small part of his early years of learning. With young men like Carson, the future of fishing is certainly in good hands.