In 2020, it’s hard to find anything to agree on. We are a country divided, no question. However, there is one thing everyone can agree on regardless of your party or your position – this year stinks. A stronger word is probably more appropriate to get the full effect, but this is a family column.
It’s been a year that no one expected or even dreamed, our entire country crippled and life as we know it over. The pandemic has not only been life-threatening, but it has taken away so many things we hold dear, family, church, school, sports and entertainment and the list goes on.
I have written about this before, but this year has also been an awakening for me. I have learned to live without sports, or a limited schedule anyway, and enjoyed my family. Online learning has challenged every bit of patience my wife and I have and has given her thoughts about if we will make our 20th anniversary next March, but we have enjoyed time spent together as a family. We have discovered a variety of outdoor activities that have given us peace and some sense of normalcy.
After two trips to a cabin in Hot Springs Village where we fished and swam in July and August, we headed to Heber Springs to trout fish on the Little Red River with my family and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The plan was to check in on Thursday night and leave Sunday morning.
The quaint, updated cabin had a set of winding sets of steps that navigated the steep bank down to the covered dock. We landed in the early evening and settled in for supper and the Kansas City Chiefs/Houston Texans NFL opener with an early morning guided trip looming.
That was what I was looking for most and wound up being the highlight for me. Mike the Guide was a dream. He gave us a quick tutorial on trout technique and was patient with my two boys J.D. (11) and Luke (9). The kid in me was delighted because growing up on a lake in Iowa, I fished with my brother and friends nearly every day. I always wanted to go on a big fishing trip to Minnesota or the Boundary Waters but was never able to. Trout fishing with a guide was pretty big time and akin to one of the dream trips of my youth.
It didn’t take me five minutes and I was into a few trout and JD followed. In fact, we were all catching fish, except Sheena. Then, while she was taking a picture of JD’s catch, her line began to twitch. Mike said, “Put down the phone.” Sheena gave a tug setting the hook and was in for a fight. Right away, Mike knew it was the elusive brown trout because of how it tusseled. Sheena kept her rod up as instructed and reeled him in close to the boat where Mike netted him. He was quite a catch and made up for her initial bad luck. “Some people come up here for years fishing for brown trout and don’t catch one,” Mike said. Sheena beamed with pride and the boys smiled seeing their mom haul in such a prize.
We fished for four hours moving from one spot to another. My sister-in-law Lisa reeled in a big one, and when we returned the to the hot spot where we started I ended like I began – hot. I pulled in one of the biggest fish of the day and then grabbed another in the moss thinking it was a snag. In all, we netted 23 keepers and 30 totals. Both boys caught several fish and a couple of keepers.
The end was the capper on one of my all-time greatest fishing expeditions. On Friday night Lisa fried up a mess of fish to eat with fries and the trimmings. It was fantastic. On Saturday night, Sheena baked some more including the brown, which I was told would be the best and it was.
Sheena, Lisa and the boys spent a lot of time on the dock and pulled in some nice fish and some more keepers. I spent a lot of the day watching college football with my mother-in-law Yvonne on Saturday and enjoyed a trip to Greers Ferry to swim at the beach that afternoon with Sheena and the boys.
It was such a great time doing something I’ve always wanted to do with family. I am not sure if we would have gone on this trip if it weren’t for the pandemic. We typically go on one or two vacations a year and spend the rest of the time trying to run at a frantic pace with work, school and youth sports. The break allowed us time to mark an item off our bucket list, and we won’t ever forget it. And we plan to do it again hopefully sooner rather than later.