There can be something exhilarating about tossing your line into the water, letting your bait drift for a minute, then feeling those first subtle tugs as a fish tests it out. Those moments between the first nibbles and the final bite that takes the bait are filled with curiosity, excitement, and hope. For me, thinking of those moments brings back memories of warm summer days and cool, crisp nights; cold rivers; deep lakes; mountains; family; forests; and fresh air mixed with the pungent smell of bait and fish.

With an invitation from Grandpa Robert and Nana Cin, we took the girls up to Courtright Reservoir to go fishing. Having been fishing with my side of the family once before, all three girls were ecstatic to head back out to the water and try their luck. We arrived in the evening of August 7, and they couldn’t wait for the next morning.

We camped just down the hill from the reservoir and after a short hike up and over, we were at the water, ready to get started. Robert, Sarah, and I formed a sort of assembly line, getting lines ready, tying on hooks, and baiting them with night crawlers. Robert showed us his method for keeping the worms on the hook while keeping the hook masked. He cast the line in the water and handed it to Keana. Within two minutes, literally, she had a fish on the line and reeled it in, landing it on the shore. By then, Aliya had her line in the water, and while we got the hook out of Keana’s fish, she had snagged a fish. She reeled it in, on her own, and flopped it on the shore. Through all this excitement, Maia had finally gotten her line in the water, and not 10 minutes after we had begun, all three girls had each caught and landed a beautiful rainbow trout.

It went on like that the entire morning. We could barely keep the hooks baited fastest enough. There was a slight break in the action where Sarah was able to get a line in and catch her own fish—which also took about 5 mintues—but it was pretty much the kid show all morning. It was all pretty extraordinary. But perhaps the most extraordinary effort of the morning was a fish that Aliya hooked, that gave her quite a fight. For two minutes she worked that fish, reeling it in, getting it closer, then the fish taking some line back out. She wedged the handle of the rod against her stomach to gain leverage and by the time she finally got it to the shore, both she and fish were wore out. The smallest member of our crew had landed the biggest fish.

All told, we caught 11 fish that we kept—probably threw back 4 or 5—and by lunch we were exhausted. The rest of the time was spent playing at the campground, retelling the stories from the day, and laying on a huge granite slab picking out constellations and satellites. It was the last trip of the summer, a short one, but full of memories that will last a lifetime.