I dropped 17 bucks on a fishing license last weekend and can think of a ton of other things I could've bought with that money: Nearly five gallons of gas; eight Powerballs; a couple pizzas; a 12-pack of beer and a pack of Jack Link's.
But none of those would've given me as much satisfaction as that fishing license did (unless my numbers matched, of course).
I've promoted the Take-A-Kid-Fishing weekend in the past - not to stump for the DNR, but to remind you moms and dads out there that there really is no reason not to rescue your kid from the life-sucking indoors for a day in the great outdoors.
Yes, there will be flies and gnats and mosquitoes. Yes, you might get a sunburn. And yes, you will have to fill up the car with gas to drive out to a lake or stream, but believe me, it's well worth it.
First, aside from the gas expense, it won't cost you anything - you don't need a license this weekend - except for a few bucks for a cheap fishing pole and a box of nightcrawlers. Second, it exposes your child to a Minnesota tradition. And, gasp, there's also a chance the kid might even enjoy it. Actually, the more they balk at the idea, the better. Don't ask them if they want to go fishing, order them to. They'll thank you for it.
That $17 bought my daughter and I about an hour-and-a-half of dock time on Lake Sarah on Saturday (you don't need a boat, folks. Heck, you don't even need a dock). Stand on a big rock if you have to. And while I wasn't drooling over the prospects of catching anything (before Saturday I couldn't catch an Asian carp if it landed in my lap) I was excited to share some outdoors time with Olivia and really expose her to the sport and, hopefully, the thrill of getting a bite.
Not only did she get a bite, the first fish she caught, a nice-size yellow perch, was a borderline keeper. She's caught little ones before, about the length of your hand, but this was a pretty good catch that proved you don't need a net to catch a good fish. Still, we released it and kept on looking for bigger and better ones.
Even catching just the one big one, she still outdid me. I managed to ruin a bullhead's day and snag a few obviously malnourished perch, but that's was about it. Still, considering my angling history, they were all pretty much trophies. I was like a .190 hitter who went 3-for-4.
But that's the beauty of fishing - you don't have to catch the big one, or any at all for that matter. Fishing, as I'm teaching Olivia, is about the anticipation of catching something. It's also about learning to be patient - a trait no 9-year-olds have yet to fully master. We had just as much fun not catching fish than we did when we actually caught something. Just sitting there on the dock waiting was fun. Trying to get the hook out of a fish's mouth as Olivia laughed at me was fun. Even me getting pooped on by a worm was fun, at least for her. (That was actually a highlight for her).
It should be mentioned that the DNR has stocked some area bodies of water - namely the pond at Independence Park and Swift Lake just outside of Tracy. These fish are young and will nibble at anything. Basically, they're idiots, too young to know better about anything - even I could catch them.
That $17 will last me throughout the summer, and I know I'll be able to cash in on some good memories during the next few months.
As it turned out, I didn't need those Powerball tickets to hit the most important jackpot of all last weekend.