I recently turned 44 and have been very lucky in my life, for the most part. I have my family, I have my health, and now I have a newly rediscovered hobby, fishing.
My fishing experience began when I was very young. My parents put down roots in the Midwest when I was a child which separated us from my grandparents who lived out East. My maternal grandparents had a small farm in West Virginia which included a pond that was about a half-acre in size. Within this pond were bass and easy to catch bluegill which made it fun for my cousins and me.
My grandfather was more than happy to show us younger kids how to fish. He spent a lot of time teaching us, very carefully, how to put a worm on a hook, cast, know what a bite was and how to reel the fish in. I remember being anxious to try out the bobber and the worm. But what attracted me most was the much larger fish that the adults were catching. Those fish were bass, and I wanted to catch the bigger fish.
I had asked my grandfather to teach me how to catch bass. He was happy to show me. He took great care in teaching me how to catch what would become my favorite sportfish. From that early experience, I learned how to not only catch bass but fell in love with trying to catch them.
When we came back home to the Midwest, my father would take me on fishing trips to the lakes along the Minnesota and Canadian borders. I remember the crystal clear still waters as we guided our boat around some of the biggest lakes in that part of the country. It was so calm and peaceful.
One of my most memorable experiences fishing up North happened when my dad’s friend lost his fishing pole in a lake we were fishing in. We spent hours looking for that pole. When we decided to give it one last shot before calling it a day, we managed to snag the rod and bring it back up from the depths.
It felt like we had won the Super Bowl.
As I grew older, I would often go fishing with friends back home. When I would travel out East, I would fish in my grandparent’s pond whenever I could. It was always my favorite place to fish.
In 1994, my grandfather passed away suddenly. It was, up to that point, the saddest thing I ever had to deal with. His death had had a huge impact on my life for the next twenty plus years. After he passed away, I seldom fished. I didn’t fish in my grandparent’s pond again for 23 years. I can’t say that I just made my mind up not to fish anymore but maybe, deep down inside, it just wasn’t appealing any longer.
About eight years ago, I had started to pick up some interest in fishing again. My new spot to fish was in my wife’s uncle’s pond in Iowa. We have family events down at that pond and I would fish with an old pole and a worm for bluegill. After gaining even more interest, I bought a rod and a reel and used it to fish for bass and bluegill.
Interestingly, I liked that spot so much; I chose to get married at the pond. However, I did not fish on my wedding day.
Beyond that though, I still hadn’t had a big interest in fishing. The interest was nowhere near what I had when I was younger.
Just two years ago, I saw a friend had posted a picture on Facebook of a large catfish he caught close to where I live. I asked him where he caught it and, the next day, I went down and fished in that same spot. All I caught was a drum, but it signaled the beginning of my full-blown “re-birth” and return to fishing.
Before the weather grew warm this past spring, I had already started planning my spring and summer fishing experiences. I had purchased a lot of gear, read a lot of books and had done a lot of preparation. I was poised to go out and do everything I could to catch a fish.
Honestly, I probably spent more time preparing to fish than fishing, but the preparation was just as much fun as being out on the water.
My desire to fish was back.
In the middle of the summer, I had decided to travel up to where my dad lived to take him fishing. As the time to get together came closer, my father ended up suffering some setbacks and then we found out he had cancer. For years, my dad had desired to fly fish, but he could not find anyone who wanted to go with him. Now that I had wanted to take the opportunity to do that with him, I thought it was too late.
Had I waited too long to go on a fishing trip with my dad? Would I never get to see the water with my father? I prayed not only for his health but also for the fact that I wanted to spend some quality father and son time with him and be able to go on a fishing trip together.
My father would need surgery to help rid him of the cancer that ailed him. Even then, it wasn’t guaranteed that it would all be taken care of. He went through the surgery and recovered from it well. A few weeks following the surgery, he went to the doctor to find out that he no longer had cancer. My family was overjoyed.
And now I cannot wait to go fishing with him this summer.
If there is a lesson to be learned by reading this story, it’s that you should never wait for anything. If you wait too long, the chances that you have to do something important or perhaps right a wrong may disappear. I started my life out by loving fishing and my family. When I lost part of my family, I lost my interest in fishing. When, after so long, I finally got the urge to return to finishing with one of my favorite fishing partners, it was almost too late. Now my desire to fish is back and one of my favorite fishing partners can join me again.
Fishing brings families together and makes memories that last a lifetime. I will always remember the time spent with my grandfather fishing in his pond. I will recall the times that my dad and I went fishing and talked about it much more than we went. Those are the memories that I will always have and treasure the most.
Now I will be able to make new memories with my dad as we go fishing together again.