Chico Rodriguez turned his love of fishing and his daughters into a rhythmic children's book called “The Fish Wish.” It’s about two little girls as they accompany their dad on an exhilarating fishing adventure.
Rodriguez grew up in East St. Paul and attended Harding High School for his freshman and sophomore years. When his family moved to North Branch, he went to North Branch High School, where we graduated in 2006. After high school, he moved to Forest Lake because he loves to fish on Forest Lake.
“I'm a fishing fanatic, and my favorite fish to catch is the tiger muskie, and second would be small mouth bass,” he said. “When my daughters were old enough, I started taking them out on Forest Lake and teaching them to fish, and they really love it.”
Rodriguez said he came up with the idea of writing a children's fishing book when his daughter Kiley was in preschool and he was asked to read to her class.
“I naturally wanted to choose a fish book; I tried to find a fishing book to read to them to teach them about fishing, and there wasn’t anything out there I could find,” he said. “I made it a really cool experience for them by bringing in minnows, frogs and fish mounts, and we had minnow races and it was a lot of fun for them.”
After that, he decided to write his own children’s book to teach children about the joy of fishing and started writing down ideas. But then he was in a car accident where he was rear-ended on his way home from work. The accident delayed his writing. He had a bad concussion, but he did not want to go to the hospital.
“When I was in the car accident around 2014, I thought I was OK but I really wasn’t. I spent a lot of time on the couch. I didn’t work, didn’t go anywhere and didn’t fish. I was lost,” he said.
“Things were moving in slow motion for a while, and I didn’t know what to do. I prayed a lot and I felt that God spoke to me and told me to get back to writing my book. I can’t explain it. It just happened and I just felt it. Things with the book came back together after that.”
After he finished the book, he said he started crying and was ready to get the book published. He tried to self-publish the book but soon realized it was very hard. He sent the manuscript to Page Publishing and they wanted to publish the book.
According to Page Publishing, the book “The Fish Wish” is a fun and happy tale about a family who loves to go fishing and spend time with one another. Readers follow them as they go on an exciting journey in the great outdoors.
Rodriguez writes, “Hippidy-doo-rah-roo-ray! We get to go to the lake today. We need our bait before it’s late, oh how I can hardly wait!”
The book's main characters are Rodriguez and two of his three daughters — Kiley (11) and Avi (7). His youngest daughter, Eliana, is only 2 years old and is not in the book, but now joins her dad and sisters on fishing outings. “She is catching fish now and just loves it,” Rodriguez said.
His daughters fell in love with the book when their dad read it to them. They asked him, “Is this us in the book?” Rodriquez told them that it was Kiley and Avi when they were younger. “They really loved that,” he said.
In the book, there is an illustration to teach children the basics of fishing — how to tie a knot and which fishing baits to use.
“I put things in the book for speech development and things to incorporate the senses as well,” Rodriguez said. “And I’m hoping to get the book into more classrooms.”
When he's not fishing or spending time with his daughters, Rodriquez is in the 652nd Army Reserve Engineering Company, where he’s a 12 Charlie Bridge Crewmember. He works at RJI Professionals as a general contractor in Wyoming.
Rodriquez said he is thinking about doing a children's coloring book about fishing. He recently discovered that “The Fish Wish” wasn't the first fishing book he's written.
“I found out from my mom that I wrote a fishing book when I was 8 years old for school called ‘The Fish That’s Always Biting,’ and I thought that was pretty funny,” he laughed. “I really don't know what's next, but I know I'll be fishing a lot.”
Staff Writer Noelle Olson can be reached at 651-407-1229 or email@example.com.