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Trent’s First Fish

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 Jul 05

Have you ever noticed that when kids are young and growing fast, something from only four years back seems like an eternity ago? In that spirit, I’d like to share a great memory with you - "way back" from 2009. I hope it brings a smile to your face. Have a great weekend!


My dad never took me fishing—which explains why I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to the sport. I was never shown the ropes. To be candid, I experience a light tension whenever I go fishing. I don’t have the competence that comes from proper instruction and hours of practice. Of course, my boys don’t know this about me. From their perspective I’m like the Old Man in the Sea. Still, I would have loved it if my father had made time to teach me the basics and to build my self-confidence.

Not wanting to make the same mistake with my boys that my dad did with me, a while back I took them fishing in a nearby pond. Perhaps I should say we were “quasi-fishing.” In just about every way that experience was a disaster. Forget about catching fish, everything seemed to go wrong from the start—including one of the boys hooking me in the foot! Admittedly, I’m still trying to sort out the fundamentals of fishing, like threading the bobber, putting the hook through the bait (rather than my finger), and casting without tangling the line on a nearby tree limb.

Putting aside that dreadful experience, a week ago I took Trent and Troy for their first REAL fishing expedition on a REAL lake. No more pond-world for us. We piled into the minivan with our bait, polls, and dreams of catching the BIG ONE, and headed to Monument, Colorado.

We arrived at Monument Lake, a 102 acre tributary of Cherry Creek, and parked not far from the sandy shore. Since it was toward the end of the day, long shadows—silhouettes of us holding our poles—leaned on to the shore as the sun began to set behind the Rocky Mountains. I happen to love that time of day to fish--that is, in the handful of times I’ve had the chance to go.

This time out both boys were casting well and, best of all, nobody got a hook stuck in their finger, foot, or other part of the body. Not surprisingly it took maybe 15 minutes before Troy asked, “Daddy, why are the fish taking so long?” When I explained that patient fishermen catch the fish, he decided to wander off in search of another form of entertainment along the sandy shore.

Meanwhile, Trent handed me his pole in order to head back to the car for something. He had taken no more than three or four steps away when, don’tcha know, a fish struck his line which I was now holding. He turned back and did a great job of reeling it in. Troy heard the commotion and ran back to hold the fish. He said, “I want to cast and catch a fish, too!”

I could tell that Trent was proud of his accomplishment. You know, he was pleased to have pulled off this “guy thing” and was now a proud member of the inner circle of fisherman . . . not to mention it was the only catch of the day. Yes, he had bragging rights, too.

The fish is now in the deep freezer at home awaiting the day when Trent will fish it out for one of his science experiments. I’m sure when he retrieves it, the memories of catching his first fish with Dad will bring a smile to his face—in spite of the fact that I’m not much of a fisherman.

As I’ve thought about it, you know what I’ve concluded? As a dad, I don’t have to personally excel at something before I can give my boys an excellent memory.

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