With five-year-old Ari and nine-year-old Tara in tow, Monroe Mizel waded through waist-high field grass, up a short ridge, and paused.
"There she is, Denny," he said turning to a neighbor's son. "That's the little gem I was telling you about. She's chock full of bass and bluegills." Mizel, his two children and Denny Watson were looking at one of Mizel's secret fishing spots - and a private one, too. "In farm-pond fishings, there's no trouble finding fish. The only trouble is finding a pond."
Mizel has fatherly aspirations of passing on to his children the fishing foolishness that infects him. He prefers to teach children on farm ponds because small waters and few fishermen make farm-pond fishing as easy as fishing in a barrel. Except for several red-winged blackbirds, Mizel and the kids were alone.
Mizel rigged a fly rod for Tara and tied on a yellow popper that was small enough for a bluegill but big enough to tempt a bass. "I chose a yellow one, Tara, because the fish can see it during the daytime," he explained, "but if this were night I'd give you a black one, so the fish could see it against the lighter sky."
While father rigged a spinning rod for Ari, Tara cast toward the submerged vent pope of the dam. Such structures attract fish. She let the popper rest a few seconds, then twitched it, and the peace and quiet were broken by a splashing bluegill. Tara yanked against the hand-size fish, sent it shooting from the water, and screamed, "Now what do I do, Daddy?"
"Wind him in," Mizel bellowed as he came chugging through the grass trying to focus his camera. "Gotta teach the little lady how to set a hook and do a hand retrieve," he blushed. Tara beached the fish, but relied on a friend for the more difficult task of removing the hook. Two fish later Tara was unhooking and releasing her own catch.
Ari was forever wanting a drink; 90 degrees was enough to convince him that he would never again go fishing. Tara had to have a bathroom and would settle for nothing less. Confronted with such parental problems, Mizel fished little, and it was up to Denny Watson to tie into the first bass, a 12-incher. Soon Watson had another and by the time he had tied into his fourth, a 2 1/2-pounder, Mizel was fighting more with the problems of parenthood than with the fish.
Mizel is a lawyer in Kensington and the pond belongs to a client. "For a city person to fish farm ponds you can't be shy," he says. "Everyone has friends, neighbors and relatives, so it's just a matter of getting access. I've even stopped at strange farm houses to ask permission to fish a good looking. If you're polite and you ask first you often get permission."