Eventually, father time catches up with all
of us. Once in awhile, I try to catch up with father time.
It took me over 40 years, but I can finally out fish my dad
on occasion, although he'll never admit it. He'll blame it
on my fancy new line or the way I operate my MinnKota bow
mount to keep him away from the fish. "Back in the old days,
all I needed was a rowboat and a Lowrance green box," my dad
would probably say. And he's right. I remember when an old
tin boat powered by a small 18 hp Mercury Hurricane outboard
that met all of our needs whether we were fishing for panfish
or walleyes, hunting waterfowl and even waterskiing. I remember
how much I treasured my first fiberglass rod and my first
Johnson spinning reel, not only because they were mine, but
because they represented a certain independence and maturity.
I know now how far ahead of his time he was at walleye fishing
and my first five-pound walleye that he helped me catch. It
seemed a lot bigger. I remember him working all night long
on third shift, then taking my brother and me duck hunting
all day long. He would place me on a muskrat house with my
own 20 gauge single shot and a coffee can of shells that we
loaded the night before. He would take a nap in the boat to
get ready for the next night of work. I would sit with our
lab and shoot at the ducks and from time to time, I would
get lucky and hit one giving the dog something to do. At the
age of 12, I reloaded shells instead of playing video games
and looked forward to it. I remember walking behind him on
marsh skis that I still use today on my own.
||This is why I remember my first duck like it was yesterday.
I remember my first deer - I took it with a bow. He was
more excited than I was! I remember how big everything
seemed. The lakes, the waves, the marshes, the woods,
the weather and even the fish and game were larger than
they are today. I might not remember them all, but I remember
most of the outings my brother, Bruce, and I made with
I remember the sacrifices dad made to teach
us how to hunt and fish and how to respect the resources that
provided our fish and game. I remember the messes Bruce and
I got ourselves into. We would get lost in the woods, stuck
in the marshes. We tangled lines. We created backlashes a
bird would be proud of. We lost lures. We probably broke a
rod or reel along the way, too. I remember my dad's patience.
No matter how large our problems, he solved them. In fact,
during those first few years, he had little time to fish himself.
When dad took the boys fishing, he took the boys fishing.
I remember begging my father to let us keep a mess of bluegills,
even though many of them were only three or four inches long.
Dad would clean them, and we'd all talk about how good they
were on the dinner table. Now it's my turn. June means warm
weather and hungry fish. It also means Father's Day. Although
I can't give my dad what he has given to me, I can take him
fishing. We can share some of those old memories. We can argue
about presentations. We can wager on the largest fish. Maybe
I'll even out fish him, but I doubt it. Whether I catch a
fish or not, I'm still the lucky one. I was fortunate enough
to have somebody in my life to instill a passion for the outdoors
that has shaped my life in a way I wouldn't change for anything.
This is for all the dads out there that spent time in the
outdoors with their kids the way my dad did. Thanks, dad.