I recently read a survey which said that over 73% of anglers are taken fishing for the first time by their father. To the men in the world who take their kids fishing I say Happy Father’s Day. And I hope on Sunday you all will be fishing.
For much of his short life, my dad was a soldier. I wasn’t able to fish with him as much as I would have liked. We spin fished for trout, bait fished for bass and panfish, live-lined for striped bass and threw plugs at bluefish. It seemed like the winters were colder back then, and we even went ice fishing a time or two. If we fished two dozen times together that would have been a lot, and I wish I could add a zero or two to the end of that number. I miss him.
Still, every Father’s Day I am thankful that he shared his love of fishing with me. Fishing hasn’t been just a past time for me. It’s become a way of life. Now that I’m a father I make it a point to get my own kids on the water as much as possible. I teach them what I know, watch them add their individual touch to a technique, and see the world through their eyes. Some of their friends like to fish, and I’ll pack them along, too. If you ask them they’d say they are lucky that I take them fishing. But I beg to differ; it is I who am the lucky one.
It’s not every day that I can look at the things I’ve looked at for a long time and see them in a new light. My favorite waders have more patches on them than original fabric, but to my kids, they are badges of courage. Plugs that are shredded by sharp bluefish teeth remind me that I didn’t paint ‘em up last winter. To my kids they are signs of epic battles. There are so many things I take for granted, and those are the things they bring alive. Mine is a different world when I take them fishing and it’s better. Much better.
A long time ago a guy named David Thompson hired me to work in the fly shop he ran. David is an excellent sportsman, a former fishing guide, instructor and a tremendous fly tier. We became friends and he is now a dad. He takes his daughters and their friends fishing in the trout-rich state of Montana. The kids have caught a tremendous amount of fish for their ages and some trophies, too. I have no doubt that they’ll become excellent anglers, but I see them as lucky kids. It’s not just because of the skills they’re learning or the collection of tackle in their collection; it’s not because of the outstanding rivers they fish or the number of rainbows they catch. It’s because they get to spend time with David, and a lot of it.
For this Father’s Day, I extend a heartfelt thank you to all the fathers who take their kids fishing. I add to that list mentors, older brothers, coaches, and clergy. It’s folks like you who inspire kids who become fathers like me. Happy Father’s Day, y’all.