The warmer weather always heralds the opening of Robby and my favorite outdoor establishment, the Animal Park. He has been going to this little petting zoo since he was one. The zoo keepers know him by name and allow him special access to the animals. He has helped birth a goat, bottle fed a feral cat and helped round up countless chickens in his young life.
The temperatures this weekend were exceptionally pleasant, so I decided that Sunday was the perfect time for our inaugural trip. The fact that it was also the weekend of the much-anticipated fishing derby cemented my park going plans! Robby loves to fish- or at least to try to fish. He has spent the months since the Animal Park closed "practicing" his fishing skills by standing on the couch, bed, and occasionally the kitchen table, pretending to battle a giant fish with my broom handle as his pole.
Saturday night, while tucking him into bed, I told him that he needed to get a good night's sleep because we were going fishing at the Animal Park the next morning. In retrospect I should have waited until the morning to break the exciting news. The next hour was spent trying to calm down my little fisherman. He woke up at 5:30, raring to go to the Animal Park. He begrudgingly agreed to watch River Monsters (a television show featuring an experienced angler) to get tips for catching the big one.
We arrived at the park at the precise moment the Fishing Derby was slated to begin. The shore of the pond was teeming with experienced fishermen, each toting a large tackle box, expensive looking pole, and intimidating reels. Robby took his spot on the edge, proudly carrying his pint sized plastic neon green fishing pole which had been repaired with blue duct tape.
The air horn blew and all of the men cast their lines, baited with assorted live critters, deep into the pond. Robby quietly squished and formed some white bread over his hook, asked me to attach the bobber, and dropped his line, without casting, the poles length into the pond. Robby stood quietly, just looking at the water.
Only 30 seconds after Robby dropped his little bread baited hook into the pond his bobber began to sink. "Momom, I have a bite. Let me reel this monster in." I was shocked, but not nearly as astounded as his competitors, that Robby caught a 19" fish within a minute using only a bread ball and broken pole.
Robby caught a total of three fish during the Derby, more than any of his fellow fishermen. Each was caught using a bread ball and his simple drop the hook and wait method. He never had to wait long!
When we were out of bread and packing up, another gentleman who was diligently working three poles, finally caught a fish. It was measured for entry into the competition. Part of me was delighted when he was told that "the little kid has four inches on you." He did not look pleased, but Robby was delighted.
Robby chatted the whole way home from the Animal Park. He immediately began providing animated reenactments of catching each fish to anybody who would listen. He was quite proud of himself and for good reason. I received a call last night from the Animal Park that Robby won the Fishing Derby. His prize? A brand new fishing pole. He's already begging to go fishing again, and he promises to catch a fish bigger than a bike.