I can’t remember when I started writing this fishing column. It’s been at least 10 years ago, closer to 15.
I’d been catching fish, often on lakes where I was one of the only guys fishing. It seemed far too good to keep to myself. Plus, I wondered about other anglers. How could I have a good spot all to myself? Where were they fishing? What were they catching? That gave rise to the idea of our annual big fish contest, along with me doing a weekly fishing column.
There are better people for such work. They’ve fished everywhere and caught every manner of fish. I haven’t. But I live here, by choice, because there are worse vexations than living in a place that isn’t filling up with people. I figured somebody had to tell our story. I’m not the best fisherman around, but I get after it with gusto. I’ve been to a lot of the places around here that are still worth fishing.
At the same time, I was never paid just to be a fishing writer. I’ve had a newsroom to run. But nobody ever said, “Great job on estimating the cost of syndicated features next year!” or “Your effort to fill that vacant staff position almost made me want to become a reporter!” What I do hear, from some, is that they enjoy reading my stories. In fact, awhile back my new boss, Greg Awtry, approached me with an interesting but challenging idea: “Let’s run your fishing column every week.”
Oh, man! Just what I needed.
For one thing, fishing doesn’t present year-round opportunities on the high prairie. It gave me visions of weekends spent huddled over an ice hole in the dead of winter, sipping from a flask of de-icer and wondering why I’d ever agreed to such a scheme. On top of that, enough people already greet me as “the fishing guy.”
But the more we kicked it around, the more interesting it got. I could stretch the boundaries a bit, spending more time with other anglers and fisheries experts and writing about them. I don’t hunt much, but I could look for ways to add that, as well as other outdoor topics such as hiking, photography, nature, public lands, back roads, tourism and local attractions. I could travel a bit more around western Nebraska. I could throw in a few photo pages and historical features. It began to sound like a lot of fun, as well as serving a need to let more of the world know about the good things we have to share in our corner of the world.
At 62, I don’t have much enthusiasm left for attending meetings, filling out paperwork or taking business trips, but I’m not done yet with being a storyteller. So that’s what I’ve decided to do, once I get back from a little time off work.
As far as being the fishing guy, I’m OK with that. In fact, I plan to run with it. I’ve been called worse.
Now, back to the matter at hand:
Children can learn about our great sport with the help of some friendly mentors Saturday, June 27, when the Scottsbluff Noon Kiwanis Club hosts its annual Kids Fishing Day.
The event is for kids age 12 and younger. Those younger than 6 should be accompanied by a parent. The event runs 9-11 a.m. at Terry’s Lake in Terrytown. Members of the Kiwanis Club and other volunteers will be on hand to help. Some folks connected with the Carpenter Center will join in this year’s fun.
Participants can gather at the Kiwanis Shelter on the east side of the lake. Cabela’s will help sponsor the event and will bring fishing rods to lend to kids who don’t have one, or participants can bring their own. Nightcrawlers will be provided. Kids can fish for a few hours with helpful adults nearby.
Children older than 12 can participate, but they’ll need to be accompanied by an adult unless they’re 16 or older. Anyone older than 16, including parents of participants, will need a Nebraska fishing permit if they plan to fish.
If your kids like to fish, or they’d like to learn, bring them to the lake.