116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Environmental News / Outdoors
An aptly named angler
Wild Side column: 7-year-old River Patterson puts a ‘whopping’ on his elders during trip on the Wapsipinicon
Orlan Love - correspondent
May. 15, 2023 3:51 pm
If I am going to get whooped on the Wapsie by a 7-year-old kid, I prefer the whooping to be administered by the aptly named River Patterson, my great nephew.
I had heard the kid was a prodigy from reliable sources — his dad Sam Patterson and his grandfather Dave Patterson, both of Atkins. No kid-size tackle for River, they said. The lad handles user-friendly spinning rods and potentially treacherous backlash-prone bait casters with equal aplomb, they said.
I got to experience it firsthand a week ago.
Sam and River had been on the Wapsie the day before, but had just started fishing when River fell out of the boat, in the process knocking Sam’s favorite fishing rod into the drink.
River, who likes to be in full compliance, was of course wearing his life jacket and was in no peril. Sam promptly pulled him back in the boat, but the water was cold, and River was chilled, so they put off trying to recover Sam’s rod until the next day.
I was there when they arrived and after fruitless attempts to recover Sam’s rod, I got in their boat and went with them for a couple hours’ fishing.
River caught the most fish, the two biggest fish, the first fish, the last fish and most of the fish in between, and he did so with no preferential treatment. He was just another guy in the boat.
Nor did he ever gloat or even say one word about the disparity in our catches.
When you fish with a kid, you expect to provide frequent assistance with snags and tangles. If River experienced either, he handled it himself. With River amidships and me in the stern, I expected our lines to cross. In two hours it happened once, and it was my fault.
Based on my observations, the 7-year-old River knows things about his namesake that it took me a lifetime to learn. Like where to present his lures.
As the great outdoorsman Steve Harty of Marion likes to say: “It’s not what you throw. It’s where you throw it.”
Most little casters are lucky when their lures land in the water. Cast after cast, River’s lures were landing in the fishiest spots — within a foot of rock banks, just above sandbar drop-offs and in the current seams at the edges of eddies.
I’m sure River was excited when his good casts were rewarded with strikes. How could you not be when a big smallmouth bass goes airborne at the end of your line? But he never showed it.
No happy dances or high-fives from River, though his dad and I initiated a few fist bumps, and he complied with my requests for photos.
Like a Bassmaster, River flipped most of his fish into the boat. Though he never asked for assistance, Sam netted one of his big bass, and I hand-landed another.
Not only is River a good angler; he also is a good kid, solicitous of his elders.
Toward the end of our outing, he set his hot rod aside and observed, without offering advice, as Sam and I caught some fish that likely would have been intercepted had his line still been in the water.
That was the funnest whooping of the many I’ve experienced, and it won’t be the last administered by River Patterson.