Granddaughters Helen (age 4) and Clara (age 7).

Granddaughters Helen (age 4) and Clara (age 7).

I knew from the start that Clara was having problems with the worms, but while we were digging I couldn’t quite get a read on her. Helen had no problem grabbing them and putting them in the can; she probably would have eaten them had I suggested it.

Clara (age 7) and Helen (age 4) are my granddaughters. Their father Ben brought them out to fish in my farm pond; their first fishing experience. We formed two teams, Daddy and Helen and Grandpa and Clara.

Now, on one knee with worm in one hand and hook in the other, and looking up at her disbelieving face, I explained to Clara how we needed to thread the worm on the hook. The worm wiggled as I pierced it with the hook. Whoa!! That was too much; she immediately broke out in tears. How do you tell a child, on the one hand, that all life is precious and then, on the other, thread a cute little worm on a sharp hook? The old song of needing to sacrifice a worm to catch the fish so we can eat the fish did not work.

Ben and Helen digging worms. Clara was not interested in this activity.

Ben and Helen digging worms. Clara was not interested in this activity.

But there happened to be a white grub in the can, and given that the grub was a lower form of life than the worm, I suppose, it was put on the hook with no remorse.

Using our cane pole, bobber and hook, we caught two bluegills on that grub, but that was the only one in the can. I tried another line of persuasion to use a worm, but Clara would have none of it. So back to the garden we went to see if we could find another grub. In the meantime, Daddy and Helen were catching lots of bluegills on worms; go figure.

After a fair amount of digging, there were no more grubs to be found. “OK, Clara, you win, how about we use a plastic artificial worm; are you OK with that?” She was all smiles as she took our original can of worms, gently placed them back into the garden soil, and covered them.

Clara very proud of the big bass she reeled in.

Clara, very proud of the big bass she reeled in.

“Now if we catch a fish, this is how you hold the rod and this is the way you crank the reel to pull in the fish,” I said.

After the second cast of the spinning reel with the artificial bait, BAM, a hard strike. Clara cranked really hard and after much thrashing about she landed a nice largemouth bass.

After lots of carrying on and picture taking, Helen, to keep up with her big sister, needed to catch a big one as well. But after all the commotion with Clara’s bass, the rest must have moved to the other side of the pond.

Just when Helen was ready to give up on Grandpa and be badly disappointed the rest of the evening, a big catfish took the bait. I handed the reel to her, but just then the catfish came out of the water and made a big splash. She dropped the rod and reel and ran behind me. It took some coaxing, but she finally took the reel again and started cranking with all the muscles in her little arms. Just as the fish neared the shore, the drag would buzzzz and she would need to reel it in again. After several attempts and with much to-do, the fish was finally on shore and we got a few photos with proud little girls.

Helen (center) with the big catfish she landed.

Helen (center) with the big catfish she landed.

Clara didn’t say so, but after the big bass and catfish were caught on the plastic bait, I caught her looking at me with her thoughtful, little face: I imagined her thinking: “See Grandpa, we didn’t need the worms!”