Give a boy a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a boy to fish and he’ll feed you for a week.
I’m one of those dads with an idealistic or sentimentalized bucket list of Norman Rockwell images of everyday life that I want to experience with my son. There’s a particular allure to fishing together that seems as fundamental as buying him a train set.
I’ve caught my share of fish, but I’m no Old Man and the Sea. I don’t feel confident enough to teach him. Enter Lyndon Fishing Pond in New Hamburg. A short drive leads us to the Pond. My anticipation soars as we walk into the park, my son, hurriedly tagging along, not knowing what’s in store. To my four-year old, dangling his toes over the edge of this pristine spring water-fed pond may as well be like standing at the shore of one of the Great Lakes. It’s continually stocked with over 3,000 lbs. of Rainbow Trout, all raised in the adjacent Lyndon Hatchery.
As his inquisitive eyes gaze across the water and lush greenery, he takes off his baseball cap, and wipes his brow. “What are we going to do, daddy?” Crouched beside him, I ruffle his hair. “Well son, you’re going to catch a fish today, my boy.”
“Whaaat!” His eyes light up, as he’s riveted on his instructor who teaches him the basics, step by step. I watch in amazement as my son learns how to tie a hook, put the worm on the hook, and adorably make attempt after attempt to cast a line. Almost immediately, his excitement turns to frustration. “It’s taking a long time!” He moans.
How do you teach patience to a four-year old, or explain why all the passing fish seem totally disinterested in his lure? “Well son, it’s just like in your life, the first step is putting yourself out there. Which you’ve done, and that’s good, but the next step is figuring out how to get the response you want. When you want someone’s attention, do you walk into their room and shout? No, you’ll scare everyone away… You have to think carefully about what the fish might want, and then approach them very gently in that way… Don’t chase them; make them come to you. It takes time, and strategy, but you’ll get it, son.”
His eyes squinch as my young Padawan practices his focus. He casts again and again as we cheer him on. The instructor tosses fish food like a blessing and the surrounding water transforms into a tumultuous mosh pit of dancing, splashing trout. Game on. He fiercely casts his line, and… Oh! Oh! He’s got something! Hold on son! “I’m getting a fish, daddy!” You can do it, son! “It’s too heavy!” I anchor myself behind him, as he leans back into me, and I place my hands on his—one on the reel, one on the rod—and in that moment, as we’re facing off against this whale, together, the exhilaration, my son’s incredible excitement, and the transference of energy, is euphoric; it’s a tangible joy that I’ve never felt before. “I caught a fish! I caught a fish!” He beams.
I look around and see other dads with their kids, interacting and bonding. Lyndon Fishing Pond has created this fun, accessible experience, and has been doing so for over fifty years in this clean, bio-secure pond, providing rods, bait, and complimentary fish cleaning. We don’t even need a license.
There’s only one thing to do now. After our instructor cleans the fish, we pack it up and bring it home to cook. Together in our kitchen we rub it with olive oil, stuff lemon and herbs, drizzle apple cider, and bake it with potatoes and broccoli for our feast of today’s catch.
I feel like we should hang a “Gone Fishing” sign on our door, because my new fishing buddy has reeled in his new hobby, and his smile when he says, “Thank you for teaching me how to fish, daddy,” has me totally hooked.
For more information on hours of operation, events, and Kid’s Fishing Camp, check out:
Lyndon Fishing Pond
1745 Huron Rd, Petersburg, ON, N0B 2H0
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.