Three generations on the St. Lawrence River in Upstate New York.

17 inch Smallmouth by Gianluca

17 inch Smallmouth by Gianluca

This particular Thursday morning we had set the alarm for 5 a.m. Gianluca told me that even if he didn’t want to get up, I should make him because he didn’t want to miss yet another opportunity to catch his first Northern Pike.

We spent a week of our annual “homecoming” vacation in Clayton, NY on the St. Lawrence River. Living so far away from my family, the homecoming is a pretty important event, not only for me, but for my kids. All year long they ask how many days are left until they get to see their cousins and grandparents again. We usually spend two or three weeks, with one week dedicated to a get-away, a vacation within a vacation, of one week on “The River”. Since my brothers and sisters take time off work, daily routines don’t get in the way and we can all enjoy being together. If for no other reason than to see the joy in the kids faces and watch the childhood memories in full creation, its worth the effort and expense to travel across half the globe.

Gianluca, Chiara and Joseph
Gianluca, Chiara and Joseph

All week we’d seen taxidermied pike and musky in just about every restaurant, store and gas station in the area. It certainly helps to promote fishing tourism, although all those enormous trophies date back many years. Never the less, there are still some pretty good sized Northern Pike pulled from the river every year. So the night before our final fishing outing of the week, we picked up “pike minnows” (shiners) and spent about 2 hours preparing the tackle box.

As my alarm sounded off on Thursday morning, I rose and checked the sky through the window. Our three week vacation has consisted of about 60% rain, 30% overcast and only 10% clear skies. That’s the way an adult sums it up I guess. I suppose an important observation is that kids never seem to see it that way. They just live the moment and know how to have fun, when the moment presents itself.

Pulling back the shade and looking southwest, I judged the skyline looked pretty promising. As I walked in to rouse my son I noticed his bed was empty. Turning to face the giggling 9 year old seated behind me, I was greeted with an ear to ear smile. That smile was like a pilot light and I could feel my own excitement kicking on.

The River

The River

By 6 a.m. we’d taken the boat down to Lawrence View and picked up my father. (Will Gianluca pick me up someday with his son waving to his grandfather on a similarly placid morning?) By 6:15 Gianluca was fighting against a “pole bender” that was determined to stay directly under the boat in about 25 feet of water.

I was pretty sure that my boy had hooked up with his first Northern Pike. The characteristics of the river bed were good, rocky and somewhat shallow, and given our choice of bait and the way this fish kept on diving, I was pretty sure of the breed. I saw a yellow-white flash when the fish was within about 5 feet of the boat and I grabbed the net. Maybe I wanted my son’s wish to come true and thus was a little disappointed when I saw that his catch was actually a smallmouth bass. But the disappointment was only mine and quickly vanished when I heard Gianlu yell out “YAHOO!” at the top of his lungs.

Whether or not we caught another fish that morning isn’t important (unless we had caught a bigger one of course), but the few hours on the boat with my son and my father frame the entire trip for me. I love fishing, so anytime I can do that with the people I love, those are golden moments for me. I’m pretty sure it was a memorable moment for my son, and I can only imagine what it must have been like for the most senior of the three generations on a boat, on a river sharing a favorite activity… and getting out-fished by the youngest. …sorry Dad. Better luck next time.

River "slab"

River "slab"

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