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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I know parents who drive themselves crazy trying to impress other parents by throwing lavish birthday parties for their kids.
In an effort to preserve their sanity, I feel compelled to share the details of a party to end all parties. This party requires only some water, some worms, some fishing rods and some kids. The laughter and the magic happen automatically, and the kids go home happy and with the gift of a sport they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.
Of course, I'm talking about a fishing party. I'd never heard of such a thing until I was invited to attend one thrown by friends Andrew and Shelly Pond for their son, Kyle, who was celebrating his 8th birthday.
You don't need to charter a party boat for this type of fishing party. Andrew and Shelly set it up along the banks of the canal behind their house. Practically any park pond or housing development lake in South Florida is suitable.
Andrew bought two-piece cane poles (on sale for $2 at Wal-Mart) that came pre-rigged with monofilament line, a bobber and a hook. Shelly had the kids write their names on the poles, which served as their party favors.
Once the poles were distributed, Andrew helped the kids put live wigglers on their hooks. Then the kids spread out along the shoreline and plopped their lines in the water. They were soon whooping with joy as bluegills, Mayan cichlids and even a few largemouth bass grabbed their baits.
Watching kids fish never fails to amaze me. Fishing might start off a little slow. A couple of kids get bored. Then one kid hooks a fish and everybody goes nuts.
I remember an outing years ago at a trout pond in upstate New York. Some troubled young teenagers from New York City were invited up for the day. Most of them were way too cool to be bothered with fishing, until one of them caught a trout. Suddenly, everyone wanted to catch a fish, and everyone did.
The kids at Kyle's party scrambled to watch, coach, encourage and assist anyone who hooked a fish. As soon as the angler lifted the fish from the water, several other lines were dropped in.