Hook, Line, and Sinker



I took my youngest daughter fishing for the first time last weekend. She is six and had never had the thrill of fighting a fish on the line. I figured it was time to introduce her to the art of fishing. It’s basically a right of passage in these parts, and the perfect opportunity presented itself. The Billings chapter of the Montana Pikemasters group was having its Annual Leonard Lawver Memorial Kid’s Fishing Day at the Lion’s Park South Pond, in Laurel, Montana. To top it off the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks stock the pond with extra fish before the event so it would be a great opportunity to teach her about fishing! 

Now before I go any further, I know there will be people out there questioning why I hadn’t taken her sooner. I’ll take this moment to remind you a little of Brooklyn’s past history. Brooklyn came to my family as a kinship foster. She was my wife’s ex-husband’s niece, making her a cousin to my wife’s kids. She was barely four years old when she came to live with us and most of the first year she spent with us was focused on getting her caught up mentally and physically as she was well below the standard in both categories. We were also focused on working with CPS to adopt her (but that’s another story for a different time). Then the following year was spent getting her brother acclimated as he also found his way to us. It was two years worth of appointments and court dates, but it was all worth it.

After everyone was settled in the house, I wanted to give her a taste of what I learned growing up. Fishing and camping were a constant throughout my summers as a child. My family spent time boating and dragging lines or in the mountains fishing the streams. My sister can cast a fly rod better than most men I know, and I had the unique ability to hook my lures on anything but fish. The time I caught myself in my neck was a particularly painful experience I will never forget. That being said, I enjoyed the peacefulness that being around the water brought, but even more so I cherished the time spent with my family. There were many hours shared in our boat laughing and telling stories, and when I was younger I also enjoyed peeing over the edge of the boat because I was a cheeky little kid with a penchant for shenanigans. 

While we don’t have easy access to a boat, we did have a free day to utilize the Pikemaster’s offer of fishing with poles they provided, free bait, and food. After checking in, grabbing our poles, and picking up our styrofoam container of worms we surveyed the pond’s layout. We set our sights on the far side of the pond where there was plenty of open space and headed out. Not even halfway to our predetermined destination, the kids forced me to abandon our trek in favor of a closer spot so we could get our hooks in the water. That’s when my daughter had her first glimpse into the gritty underbelly of the fishing world… digging out the worms for our hooks. 

Hesitation overtook her when she pried the thin plastic lid off of the worm tub and she saw the hind-end of the worms sliding for cover under the dirt. After a few scowls, a slight gag at the thought of touching them, and several head shakes, I finally decided to step in and pull a worm from the container. I’ll never forget the look on her face: the awe she showed at my willingness to simply hold the worm. Then I cut the worm in half with my thumb. This brought on a new level of fear and disgust, only matched by the terror she felt when I plunged the hook into the slimy worm. 

I made sure to explain everything as I went: Why I cut the worms in half, why I stick the hook into the worm three times, how to set the reel, how to cast, and what to look for as the bobber sits on the water. Shortly after getting her settled, her brother needed a little familiarizing with the finer points of fishing with a hook and bobber. I walked him through the process, highlighting details that were a little more advanced since this wasn’t his first time with a pole. Even though he had been fishing many times before he still admitted that he had forgotten quite a bit. “It happens to the best of us,” I told him.

Not even 15 minutes after the first cast at our rocky outcrop, Brooklyn had her first fish on the line. While the fish was tiny, to her the fight was just as exciting as landing the fish. And when you’re six, even the smallest fish seem large when you catch them yourself. She couldn’t believe she caught one, and then the look of disgust returned when she realized we had to touch the fish to get the hook out of its mouth. Her face went from disgust to amazement as I fearlessly grabbed the fish and removed the hook. She touched the fish with hesitation at first, which soon turned to petting the fish the way she pets our cats. I felt it was time to release the little fish when Brooklyn poked its eye with her very scientific sense of wonder. She waved goodbye to the fish like it was her best friend as I set it into the pond and let it gather its senses before swimming off.

She felt that the rest of her time at the pond was best spent organizing the worms. She decided she would much rather hand her brother and me worms for our hooks than poke another fish in the eye. With some gentle coaching from me, her brother landed 3 fish. When the worms ran out, Darion proceeded to show me how he could catch fish without a worm on his hook. He was desperately searching for a way to stay out fishing longer. Soon after using all the worms, however, hunger overtook them both so we decided to reel it in and make our way back. 

Looking back on the day, I find that learning to fish is a lot like buying a house. Sure my kids could have gone fishing on their own without me there to direct them. They would have been fishing without bait, and trying to land a monster by dropping their hooks in the water a few feet from the shore. Would they have caught anything? Hard to say, but if you would have asked my son he would tell you it’s just as effective to fish with a worm as it is to fish without one. Buying a house could be seen in the same light. Could you buy a house on your own with very limited knowledge? Sure. It could be done. Will you land the house of your dreams casting three feet of the shore without bait? Highly unlikely. It’s always a much more enjoyable and rewarding experience when you have someone with years of experience under their belt guiding you along. 

With the right set of information, the proper tools, and the correct bait, a Real Estate Broker like Pat can help you land the home you see others in the area catching. Not unlike myself, Pat has had his fair share of snags and learning experiences that help him better understand the world of realty. He’s hooked himself a time or two, and it’s that experience that he brings which will keep you from getting stuck in a situation you don’t want to be in. Ultimately he is there to help you buy or sell your home because he gets as much enjoyment from helping you complete the transaction on your home as you do. 

I also think about people like my son, Darion, who have been fishing before. He knew the basics and remembered what fishing involved, but there was so much he forgot since the last time he fished. Even people who have bought one house, or several, need help navigating the shores and finding where to cast just as much as someone who has never been fishing at all. The right guide can make all the difference in the world. They can be the difference between having the time of your life or wasting worms and getting stuck in the weeds. 

I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life, and I hope that my daughter will remember it for the rest of her life. It was the day the Lofgrens tamed the Laurel Pond and reeled in the biggest fish Laurel ever saw. Don’t let the pictures fool you. These fish were huge. All of them were easily a foot in length. After all, one of the most important things about fishing that I had to teach my kids as we walked back was to double the size of every fish you catch when you retell the tale to others. Then and there we all agreed that we landed monsters that day, the size of which we will never see again… At least not until the next time we go fishing. 

The Montana Pikemasters Billings Chapter was established in May of 1999 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which relies on the support of individuals and businesses to help support their events such as their annual Kid’s fishing day. For more information visit their site using the link here:

Montana Pikemasters Billings Chapter

For information about the Laurel Pond visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks site:

South (Laurel) Pond information