Evan Shoemaker is the Finesse News Network's newest and youngest member.
We recently crossed paths with him in the Northwoods of Minnesota during our family's annual vacation.
On the morning of July 30, my wife, Patty, and I watched him dissect a patch of lily pads with a BOOYAH Pad Crasher Frog, and we immediately turned to one another and simultaneously uttered the word wow.
In our eyes, he was fishing as gracefully and meticulously as Derek Jeter used to be at playing shortstop for the New York Yankees and as Troy Tulowitzki is today at playing shortstop for the Colorado Rockies.
It was a sight to behold, causing a smile to grace my lips and my heart to virtually sing.
Across the years, we have tried to determine how one becomes an ardent and talented angler. At various times, we have tried to show youngsters, including our children and grandchildren, the manifold virtues of fishing. We have also written many words about it. But I have never spawned an angler among our children, nor do I know of any that I have helped to spawn by writing how to teach youngsters about the joys, art, and science of fishing.
At times I have concluded that most avid anglers are somehow or someway predestined to love to fish rather than being taught about how it is accomplished. And after I casually chatted with Evan and his mother, Kathleen, I determined that he is one of those preordained souls. Thus, it is likely that he would have become an ardent angler even if his parents hadn't introduced him to this mystical and enchanting world that most of mankind can never fathom and relish.
Evan is 14 years old. He is a ninth-grader at Valley View Middle School in Edina, Minnesota.
Besides fishing, he is a golfer, hockey player, and lacrosse player, and he hopes to participate in those three sports throughout his high school years. He is also eager to be a member of the Edina Fishing Club at Edina High School. During his high school years, he would also like to work part time in the fishing tackle department at Gander Mountain in nearby Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are his favorite fish to pursue, but he also enjoys catching walleye and chasing muskie.
Once he graduates from high school, he says fishing will likely be his primary passion, and he is already looking at colleges that have a bass team that he can fish for.
When we asked him how often he fishes, he made some quick mental calculations and estimated that he fishes about 100 times a year. He regularly rides his bicycle to Mt. Normandale Lake, where he often plies the creek below the waterfall along the lake's southeast corner. Mt. Normandale is a relatively shallow lake, and during the summer it becomes heavily infested with aquatic vegetation, which he likes to probe those mats of vegetation by wielding a topwater frog similar to the BOOYAH Pad Crasher Frog that we saw him wielding on the morning of July 30.
In addition to his frequent forays at Mt. Normandale, he fishes Waconia and Minnetonka lakes with his father, Douglas, and some friends. He and his father and their friends also fish Mille Lacs Lake and Balsam Lake, Wisconsin, and East Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. The Saint Croix River in Wisconsin is a one of his favorite waterways.
His father was unable to join the extended-family's annual summer vacation in the Northwoods of Itasca County. So with his father guidance, Evan acquired a Minnesota watercraft operator's permit, which allowed him to guide various members of his extended family around the lake in pursuit of largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. And after those family piscatorial endeavors, his aunts and uncles were as charmed by his wherewithal at wielding a rod and reel and controlling the boat as Patty and I were when we watched him on the morning of July 30.
In addition, he periodically exhibited his abilities at handling and fishing in a kayak, and it was an impressive spectacle indeed.
One evening when we talked about Midwest finesse fishing, I gave him a few Z-Man's Fishing Products' Finesse T.R.D.s (The Real Deal) and 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs, hinting that they would be ideal baits to use when he and his father fish the St. Croix River. And to our delight, he caught his first largemouth bass on The Real Deal during the morning after we talked by probing a drop off and the edge of a patch of submerged aquatic vegetation that surrounded the drop off.
As the years unfold, we are hoping that he will become a frequent contributor to the Finesse News Network.