July 4th is one of my favorite holidays to enjoy each year. Not only does it commemorate our nation’s independence, but it’s also a time to reflect on those who sacrificed so much to preserve our freedoms. Many of us enjoy the July 4th holiday weekend by spending the time with friends and family, barbeques, July 4th fireworks, and some quality time on the water in our kayaks. My family decided to spend the July4th holiday together, paddling our favorite waters and making some great memories.
With July 4th falling on a Saturday this year, I was rewarded with that Friday off from work. My youngest son, Gavin, had been asking me all week to take him out on the water for some fishing time. Unfortunately, circumstances kept me busy all week, so I promised to take him on Friday, July 3rd. My oldest son, Garrett, heard the promise and quickly chimed in that he wanted to go too. Those who know me well, know that I absolutely love spending time on the water with my family. Of course, I’d just picked up the new Wilderness Systems ATAK (Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak) so I was already more than eager to spend some time in it! We loaded everything up the night before. Garrett would be paddling his Pelican Sonic 80x kayak, Kaycee would get to test out the Native Watercraft Slayer 13 Propel, and I’d fish out of the new ATAK.
We headed to our local bait and tackle shop to grab some snacks and bait and headed to the launch. I wasn’t overly excited about the tides we were fishing this day, but any time on the water is better than no time on the water, regardless of tides. We paddled to our first area, “racing” with Garrett on the way out. We hit our first spot, and Garrett quickly lands a decent croaker. Another cast and Garrett lands a stingray! I’ve never in my life seen someone so excited and stoked to land a stingray. I think that’s part of the reason why I enjoy fishing with my boys. It doesn’t matter what they catch, they’re excited no matter what!
We fished a little while longer, then headed to another area to see if we could stir up some redfish. It was dead, and I started wondering if it was simply going to be one of those kinds of days. After giving that spot a little while, we moved on to another area, where I recently stuck a nice upper slot redfish a couple of trips prior. The tides still weren’t exactly what I was wanting so we kept ourselves busy by goofing off. In recent trips, I’ve normally always baited the hook and casted the rod for Garrett and Gavin. Both boys are young, with Garrett being 7yrs old and Gavin only 5yrs old. Part of that reason is I’ve always been more concerned with them catching versus anything else. This day, Garrett said he wanted to learn how to “throw the fishing rod”. Being that the bite was pretty much nonexistent, Kaycee and I utilized our time on the water teaching the boys how to cast.
Garrett took to it like a champ with just a small bit of instruction, casting further with each try. Once he felt comfortable, Garrett baited his hook with a piece of shrimp, casted out, set the hook, and reeled in a nice little croaker. Proud moment and one very proud daddy watching this happen. We hung out in this area for a little while longer before decided to head back in to get ready for a cookout with family.
I’m not going to lie here. I’d had every intention of sleeping in and relaxing a bit the morning of July 4th. Yeah, I figured I’d hit the water at some point, but I decided it would be later in the afternoon. That being said, Garrett and Gavin had other plans for our July 4th. At around 7am, both boys decided to wake Kaycee and I up to let us know they wanted to go fishing again. The cute thing about this is both boys were dressed and ready to hit the water wearing their Columbia fishing shirts. I don’t think it matters who you are, but getting woke up on the July 4th holiday by your kids who want to go fishing is definitely my perfect alarm clock. Kaycee and I looked at each other sleepy eyed, and said it looks like we’re going fishing today.
After a quick breakfast, we loaded up the kayaks, this time just the ATAK and the Slayer 13 Propel, and all of our fishing rods. We headed up to grab some bait, and headed to a new fishing spot. I’d decided that we were going to fish an area that I’ve taken the kids to before. Now at this spot, we’ve never landed trophy fish, but it’s always been a constant bite, which is what matters most when taking the kids fishing. Add in that it’s only about a 10 minute paddle, and that makes it even better. We get set up, and Gavin quickly got the skunk off by landing a nice little redfish. After a quick hero shot, Gavin released the redfish to fight another day. Garrett wasn’t far behind and landed a nice little mangrove snapper.
It was a perfect July 4th Saturday. The skies were a clear blue, with hardly any clouds, and a light breeze kept the heat down for us to enjoy our July 4th fishing trip. Of course, there was a good bit of horseplay pitching water on each other, and plenty of laughs which made this trip that much more enjoyable. Garrett settled in pretty nicely sitting on the front of the Wilderness Systems ATAK, casting his bait out and catching a mess of pinfish and mangrove snapper, including one snapper which was a solid 12″ long. The boys even let Kaycee and I get in on the fun and get a line out to catch a few fish ourselves. Kaycee stuck a few mangrove snapper, and I landed the second redfish of the day. Of course Gavin had to sit in my lap for a father and son picture of the redfish I’d caught, which was completely fine with me.
We sat in that same spot for the next three hours catching fish and enjoying the July 4th holiday together. Once we ran out of bait, we decided to head back in to grab some lunch. On our way back to the launch, Garrett and Gavin both decided that we needed to stop at a sand bar so they could “practice” casting their rods. I honestly have to admit that this July 4th kayak fishing trip was one of my most enjoyable and memorable trips. We all had a great day together, had some great laughs, and made memories that will last us a lifetime. I’ll take this kind of July 4th holiday over and over again!