article by Dan Chason
Early in my parenting days, I was much like most young men. I was new at being a dad and embraced each moment watching my two children grow. My biggest obstacle was time. I worked a full time job like most do until 1992, when I started a radio show and then a television show. My schedule became demanding, which pulled me away from a daily routine and my kids with long hours and a full load. It did not change my desire to be with my kids, but making a living and providing can make for a long week. For 12 years, I worked full time while hosting, producing and building my second career. An 80 hour work week was typical for me. I was fortunate to include my son, Andy, in my work which made for a unique relationship. He started filming my show at age 8 and was producing the show by age 12. Today, he makes his living in production and owns his own business as well in the video industry.
My daughter, Danielle and I have always been close. Our relationship is fairly typical, and she is a daddy’s girl through and through. When she was young, the relationship was easier as boys had not appeared on her radar. When she became a young teenager, that relationship altered somewhat, but we remained and still are very close. The one thing my kids and I share is a love of the outdoors. We seem to always gravitate towards fishing, hunting and outdoor related activities whenever we get the chance to be together. That love brought Danielle and I even closer together when her husband, Chad Powell a Marine, was killed in Iraq in 2005. One of the first things we did together after all of the turmoil of his death was to go deer hunting. She killed her first buck which is a moment I will always cherish.
One of my happiest memories was the birth of my first grandson, Elijah. Elijah recently turned 14 and is an exceptional young man. He is the epitome of his dad and has a love for shooting along with a gift for playing the guitar and, of course, video games. I haven’t spent a lot of time with him outdoors as he has not embraced it as “his thing.” That is a part of maturing and growing up, and my goal is to never push too hard on things a kid just isn’t into at the moment. Danielle has remarried to a great guy, Casey Barton, who is a hunting and fishing machine. She has three boys, Elijah, Chance and Mason. Andy and his wife, Shawnee (who is expecting another child) and their son, Cooper all came to the house recently for a fishing trip. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a time outdoors more than I enjoyed this day.
Danielle has fished all of her life. When she married Casey, it became an activity that they enjoy as a family, particularly when building a new home on Bayou DeSiard. I was amazed at her ability and quite frankly, took pride in knowing that those skills had some genetics involved. I have seen other folks fish and it doesn’t take long to figure out if someone is proficient or not. Not only was she proficient, I couldn’t help but grin with pride as she showed her sons how to cast, rig the lines and how to identify and take a fish off the hook. Elijah took to it as if he had fished every day. I had set them up on our lake where the big bream were starting to bed up and the action was fast. I cannot stress enough this point: If you are taking young kids fishing, do your homework and scouting. Nothing is worse than to take a kid fishing, and then strike out or get them bored. Out of these three kids, Chance seemed to have the most ambition to win. He stayed with it even when he wasn’t being successful. Second point: If one young angler isn’t catching anything, figure out what is wrong with their rig and fix it. His problem wasn’t his ability. It was his line size, and his cork was too large to detect bites. After giving him one of my rigs, he started catching fish immediately. Third point: It is not your trip. It is their trip. I could have easily stood there and caught them cast after cast. Fishing is not a spectator sport. Kids get bored quickly. Fourth point: Bring lots of snacks and beverages. Danielle and Casey brought chips, Gatorade and water for the boys which really kept them busy – especially for 2 1/2 year old Mason. When getting a really young kid involved, create a game and keep them busy. My game with Mason was to “help Pop wind this one in as he is too big for me and I need help.” It made me remember my dad, and how he would put on a show. He would start screaming “Help me, Help me” and hand a young child a rod. The trick worked with Mason as he would run down the bank willing to assist anyone who had a bite.
Point five: Let them do it. I watched my son, Andy, with Cooper who wanted to catch one “by himself.” To watch the patience of my kid teaching his son to fish is a memory I will never forget. Andy rigged up Cooper’s “Snoopy Rod” and let Cooper do it alone. That is hard to do as a parent, but these kids will never learn if we do it all for them. At the end of the day, we had gone through over 150 crickets and had caught more than I can count. What couldn’t be counted was the memories made and the lessons learned. From the oldest grandchild to the grown kids that were there, we all took home smiles and laughs that can only be made on a lake bank. I encourage you to share activities with your family in the great outdoors. You will make memories that will last a life time.