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Gull Lake || Mammoth Lakes, California

My grandpa sat to my left and my dad sat in the back, steering the flat-bottom fishing boat. We were on the lake before sunrise and while my eyes drooped sleepily, I was wide awake. My khaki fishing vest, size XS, hung on my thin, third-grader frame. Each pocket held a shiny, fishing lure with a little treble hook. I was ready to catch a fish. The gurgling of the motor stopped, as did the boat and for a moment, we glided through the still water.

All was quiet until the anchor splashed and lake water droplets sprayed into the boat, a few landing and then sliding across the back of my hand. As navigator, my dad had committed us to our spot. Grandpa and I exchanged hopeful glances — we hoped he had chosen correctly. With careful fingers, we fastened lures to the ends of our lines before casting away from the boat making three mini splashes. Then, we waited.

In a few minutes, the tip of my graphite rod dipped. Winner, winner, rainbow trout for dinner, I thought. After all, I was the expert fisherwoman, as my dad called me. With the rod between my palms, I reeled quickly but not too quickly, as my dad had taught me. A shimmer appeared near the lake's still-dark surface. It had to be. After all, fish bite before the sun rises anyway.

I felt it tug so I reeled and reeled until we saw. It wasn't a brown trout or a rainbow trout or even a stick. Instead, at the end of my line attached to a silver Castmaster lure, was a red, bony crawdad. Back you go, lucky guy. After all, we were there for trout.

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