Family, tradition make opening day fishing special

You have likely heard the word tradition used countless times when someone is describing the outdoors.

Tradition usually is closely associated with a passion for hunting and fishing that is passed from one generation to the next. In fact, I frequently write in this publication about my fondness for the proud outdoors tradition I have inherited from my family and its continued growth each year.

Saturday, one of the newest Knepp outdoors traditions was kept alive during the opening morning of trout season. This one was first started by my daughter during her rookie outing three years ago.

That morning my wife brought Bella to our favorite trout hole around 7:45 a.m. I had been sitting there along the stream waiting for them with my dad like most other openers. We beat the crowd and sit in chairs watching the water and talk about past outings, sports and whatever else comes to mind.

When the Knepp girls arrived we offered them some snacks to enjoy while we counted down the final 15 minutes until we could drop our lines in the water.

Bella quickly spotted a box of small white powdered donuts and chocolate milk. At that moment she decided that those items would be her go-to breakfast in the future anytime we went trout fishing.

Within an hour she had proudly posed for photos with each trout to make up a limit with white powder all over her lips and pink gloves. When we arrived home, Bella quickly told her little brother River about her morning. The highlights included a big rainbow trout and especially the donuts.

Fast forward a year and both my children were joining me for the opening morning of trout season. Bella reminded me to get donuts and chocolate milk for both of them the night before as I was packing our gear in the Jeep.

The following morning both kids took turns reeling in plenty of rainbows and brownies while the other enjoyed a donut. The memory card in my camera once again had several cute pictures featuring smiling children holding fish while boasting white lips.

We fished three more mornings in the next few weeks. Each time the kids requested the same breakfast. Even at a few months short of her fifth birthday, I think my daughter had figured out how to work the system. Her mother and I watch their diets closely and keep sweets to a minimum. She knew that if she was going fishing, she could likely get a box of donuts to share with her brother.

During one of those mornings she caught her largest trout to date all by herself. While sitting on a chair I saw her line start to move and told her I thought she had a bite. Soon Bella was reeling in a fish with a box of donuts on her lap.

Thanks to a perfect setting on her drag, she was able to get a 20-inch rainbow trout to the bank. Once I realized how big the fish was I asked for my friend to come net it for me. I was impressed she caught that fish on her own and without dumping a single donut in the grass.

When I wanted to take a photo of her with the trout, she insisted her donuts be in the picture. They were her lucky charm and helped her catch the biggest trout of the year.

This year I decided to take the grill I use for camping and tailgating down to the creek. Friday night I went to the grocery store and purchased sausage, bacon and pancake mix along with some drinks. I figured the warm breakfast would be a great way for my friends and family to pass the time before the 8 a.m. starting time.

When my wife and children arrived at the stream, I had some hot food waiting for them. Nevertheless, Bella asked for donuts. I quickly pulled out the bag holding the donuts and chocolate milks my dad brought for the kids.

Bella ate the donuts throughout the morning as she waited her turn to reel in a trout. River thankfully went for the buffet and had a little bit of everything.

Next year I will continue to add to the breakfast menu while keeping Bella’s favorite outdoors tradition at the top of the list.


Zach Knepp writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.