YOU CAN’T BEAT a day fishing with young kids.

That has long been my experience, except in a few instances when I had kids in my boat who were, in polite terms, a royal pain in the butt. The two kids I fished with last Friday were definitely not in that class.

Seven-year-old Maya and 10-year-old Nate were two really good kids; well-behaved, with smiles written on their faces and eager to upgrade their skills from the raw beginner class.

For almost three hours, we caught largemouth bass and sunfish, made some good casts and crazy casts, and just generally enjoyed a really nice morning on the water.

Their dad, John, was along for the ride, rowing my Old Town with the kids while I shadowed them in my fishing kayak.

We fished one of Vilas County’s hidden treasures, a small lake of some 30 acres or thereabouts that is filled with bass, sunfish and bluegills. It’s one of many lakes in the area of its type, and like the rest of them is perfect for kids or adults who just want to fish and have fun.

Maya was the first to launch a bobber and half-crawler from the boat, and in about two seconds flat, she had a largemouth battling her, a battle punctuated by excited shrieks of joy and some coaching from the peanut gallery. Nate’s first cast followed hers a few seconds later and it took just seconds for another largemouth to grab his crawler. Two fish in the boat and back in the water. Two kids chomping at the bit to catch some more.

We drifted here and there, rarely going more than five minutes without a fish on the hook or at least a fish that was missed. Most of the bass were between 9 and 13 inches, but that mattered very little for two kids from Illinois who had very little previous fishing experience.

Nate, as you might expect from a brother three years older, was making a lot more good casts as we went along than his sister and, as you might expect, was catching a few more fish than her as well.

I did notice that sometimes his spincast reel was in the upright position as he reeled in as it should be, while sometimes it was upside down as he cranked the handle backward to retrieve, but hey, what does it matter when a kid is happily catching a fish?

Maya started getting the hang of casting as well, although quite often her bobber landed a few feet behind the boat when she let go of the spincast button too soon, but again, who cares when you are having fun?

John, an admitted novice fisherman himself, was kept too busy rowing the boat, taking fish off the hook and helping Maya cast that he never got to catch a fish. Like me, his enjoyment came from watching his two kids have a ball.

When it came to taking pictures after a fish was caught, we nearly had a mutiny from Maya, who though she was having a great time catching bass wanted no part of holding one. Dad really wanted a picture, but Maya was having none of it. Finally, this old guy came up with a compromise, holding the fish out in front of Maya, even coaxing something between a smile and grimace of terror out of her while Dad got his picture. I think the bass was the happiest one of the bunch when it was slipped back into the lake after its 30-second ordeal.

Nate, on the other hand, was more than happy to have his mugshot taken. It didn’t take long during our outing for me to see that he is a budding real fisherman who won’t ever have to be asked twice if he wants to hit the water.

It’s kids like Maya and Nate who tend to restore my faith or at least give me a little hope that no matter the times we are in, there are going to be some good kids growing up into adulthood before all is said and done.

Maya and Nate may be city kids, but it was very clear that being in the woods of north Wisconsin was where they wanted to be. Whether it was fishing on a secluded lake or swimming and tubing on the much larger Plum Lake later in the day, you could see in their eyes how much they loved being out of the city at least for a little while.

I have been lucky enough to fish or otherwise enjoy the outdoors with a lot of kids over the years. I have watched them pull their first bluegills through holes in the ice, pose with the first deer they ever shot or set up a tent on their own for the first time, and in all of those cases and others it has been my pleasure more than theirs to be a part of the moment.

Kids, whether born and raised in the country or big city, are meant to be one with nature. Every kid should have the chance to catch a fish, watch a mama duck and her ducklings swim on a quiet pond, hear a hermit thrush sing or enjoy any of the multitude of things which can be seen or heard in the outdoors.

And old-timers like me are meant to watch and listen to the kids; maybe even learn a thing or two from them.