Fishing With Dad

My earliest memories were fishing with my Dad. There was a small pond just down the street that we would walk down to after dinner. Dad would carry all our gear which included the very basics: cane pole, bobber, and a can of warms. The pond had a good supply of blue gill which provided endless delight to my still young and developing fishermen’s heart. Two years later, we moved to a house that had a lake in the back yard. Dad bought a canoe and paddled me around the lake for hours at a time. When my younger brother wanted to join in on the fun, (which was rare) we’d fish from our neighbors’ dock while Dad sat on the bench and took pictures of us and our fish.

While on summer break from college, he took me fishing in Alaska. Over the course of a week we caught silver salmon, red snapper, halibut, and lingcod. Every day we limited out on all the species we were fishing for. At night we slept on a house boat and the captain’s wife cooked our freshly caught fish. We were also nearly arrested for interfering with a commercial fishing vessel (or so the Coast Guard claims), but that’s a story for another time.

Before I moved out West, he flew up to New Hampshire and we spent a couple days fly fishing some of the storied rivers of New England. Dad was never really into fly fishing, but I was and he was more interested in spending quality time with me.

After several years of living in Oregon, my parents came out for a visit. I was eager to share some of my favorite fishing spots with Dad. A couple years earlier he had a hip replacement so he wasn’t as mobile as he once was. I picked a small stream that meandered through a cow pasture; it didn’t have cows any more just some of the remnants of a cattle operation that had long been abandoned.

He was having a difficult time, so I’d cast, hook a fish, hand him the rod, then jump back to take a picture of him catching the fish.

How many times had he done this for me when I was young and having a difficult time on the water? Now he was old and having the same problems. It was that moment when my dad’s mortality hit me in a very real way. The man who had taught me so much and nurtured my love of fishing would one day not be there.

But everything that I’ll accomplish in fishing and in life is a direct result of those early adventures. Those trips were much more than catching fish. They were a way to connect and a spring board to talk about life.

All the joy I’ve been able to experience of the years, the friendships that have been forged, all the memories fishing, I have those because my dad took me fishing.

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