BEST PLACE FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLDS TO FISH - 2004
The ponds of Tamiami Trail
Dad always beat the sun up, even on weekends when he didn't have to hustle down to the factory, the office, that mysterious place where he spent the day while you went to school or day care or maybe stayed home with Mom. Even on weekends he was up early, to fix the car or take the dog to the vet or mow the lawn. Except on certain days, a Saturday usually. Then Dad would shake you awake an hour before dawn, eggs and home fries and (for him at least) coffee already prepared: "Eat up, boy, and let's get going." Sound a bit sexist or old-fashioned? If you have young children, rest assured this experience, regardless of specifics, will live in memory for at least 40 years. A simple cane pole with six-pound-test line, a bobber, and a tiny hook, the last baited with little pieces of balled-up bread, works just fine. About five miles past Krome, on the north side of the Tamiami Trail, is a sufficient pond, marked by cement picnic tables. But go a few more miles and, on the south, you'll begin to notice pond after pond, some nearly dry but others flourishing with water plants, turtles, snakes, and plenty of fish. The ponds aren't as lively as they were four decades ago, but that's hardly the point here. Select one with plenty of water and as little foliage as possible. You'll be alone because these are not the best fishing holes in the River of Grass. But the little ones should still be able to catch a bream or tilapia: the bobber twitching, then dropping fast, pull on the rod, drag in the fish. You'll never forget these mornings. Nor should you. This is when a five-year-old begins to realize that a parent is the most important teacher in life. And you can even eat the bream.