Could it have been the joyous sound of a largemouth bass striking Grandpa’s Hula Popper near the lily pads? Could it have been that moment when I proudly stood in front of my father’s camera lens with a yellow perch dangling from the end of my Snoopy fishing pole? Or was it the words of encouragement that were spoken by two of the people I admired the most? The reasons why I originally fell in love with fishing are many, but the number one reason stands out like a 40-inch channel catfish in a school of crappie — it was because either my father or grandfather was almost always by my side.
Thirty-five years ago, it wasn’t “cool” for a girl to wear grey sweatshirts and Levi jeans with holes in the knees instead of pink frilly dresses with patent-leather shoes. Then again, I wasn’t really worried about appearances when I was fishing with one of my two favorite fathers. We were busy creating some of the best memories of my childhood… and those memories involved dirt, worms, minnows and other slimy things that just didn’t jive with pink frilly dresses.
Dirt and slimy things aside, I also learned some important life lessons while we were out there baiting, casting and reeling. And, I couldn’t think of a more fitting time to share these lessons than now, in honor of Father’s Day.
1. Many of life’s problems are better off solved after a few hours of fishing. Since I was a shy and timid tomboy, I didn’t fit in with most of the other kids my age. I would often come home from school feeling left out and lonely. My father and grandfather always knew that after a few hours of fishing (combined with a good pep talk), I’d feel more confident about being me. Besides, what seemed to be a big problem earlier in the day hardly seemed to matter at all after spending some time on the water with Dad or Grandpa.
2. Don’t focus on the stuff, focus on the moment. When you are passionate about any hobby or sport, it’s easy to get caught up in the stuff. Ever become so enamored with your gear that you start to lose focus of why you fell in love with fishing in the first place? Sure, it’s nice to have new lures to try out or a new boat that gets you to that awesome fishing spot faster, but my grandfather was always great at remembering to stop and take note of the really important things like a stunning summer sunrise or the colors in the scales of a rainbow trout.
3. Mistakes are part of life, and tomorrow is another day to improve. After missing an opportunity to land a nice fish, I’d often get quiet and my lower lip would assume the pouting position… ok, so there might have even been a few tears every now and then. Thankfully, my father or grandfather would remind me that mistakes are part of the learning process we all go through (even the best of anglers miss a fish from time to time), and that tomorrow would be another day to improve upon my techniques.
4. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches always taste ten times better when you eat them on a boat while fishing. Yeah, I know this one is a bit random, but it’s true! Maybe it had something to do with my grandfather’s homemade raspberry jelly and the way it started to absorb into the bread after being stashed inside of a cooler for a few hours. Or, maybe it was just being outdoors in the company of people I cared about that made the sandwich seem that much better.
I’ll always be grateful to my dad and granddad for everything they taught me about fishing and life. What great memories or lessons have you taken away after time spent fishing with your father or grandfather? Sign into the Take Me Fishing Community to comment on this post or visit our Facebook page, I’d love to hear your personal stories.