Gary Maerz from the GermanikAngler.com sent me this article about the importance of fathers. I know it is one that many of us can relate to, especially on Father’s Day. So I am honored that Gary shared it with us here at Dock Talk 365. Enjoy!
Daddy Took Me Fishing by Gary Maerz
In this life, there are few things I look forward to more than teaching my children to enjoy the outdoors, respect nature, and love fishing. I have been very fortunate in that my daughter is well on her way to all three and consistently finds wonder in the world around her. By two and a half years old, my daughter had expressed sufficient interest in fishing to warrant the purchase of her own pole allowing me to beat the bank with my little lady angler. Watching my daughter catch her first fish, and then, just two fish later, reel them in on her own, is one of the proudest moments in my time as a father. Likewise, writing about that experience and trying to help others create those same memories is my proudest moment as a writer.
My daughter, now four years old with a little over a year of angling under her belt, regularly asks me to go fishing with her. Though she is patient enough to wait for a bite, and recognizes when her float (bobber) signals a fish on the other end, I still have to bait and cast. While this means fishing with her allows me to take maybe five to ten casts in a one-hour fishing trip, having my lure in the water at the same time my daughter is waiting on a dipping float is an enigmatic feeling: extreme happiness coupled with quiet satisfaction. And when I have time for moments of quiet reflection, I often wonder how my father felt taking me fishing and appreciate a youth spent on the water (whenever possible) because of him.
My love affair with angling is approaching its 31st year as my father first brought me fishing sometime before my fourth birthday. My first catch was a Rainbow Trout taken from Rattlesnake Creek (a tributary stream of the Connetquot River located on Long Island, NY). I will never forget standing on the sandy bank looking into the surprisingly crystal clear water as it flowed from large pipes that run under Sunrise Highway. I was wearing a red and blue Donald Duck sweatshirt and a smile that went from ear to ear. Pardon the pun but I really was hooked. Fortunately, he was usually willing to answer the call of, “Dad, take me fishing.”
During my youth, when I wasn’t participating in some sporting event (usually soccer and usually coached by him) or away on a weekend camping trip with my grandfather’s boy scout troop (another opportunity to go fishing with dad), my father could expect to be woken up to spend a few hours fishing on Long Island if I hadn’t previously asked to spend the day on the Upper Delaware River. Also, he would often have one of his friends (my uncles) pick me up so I could meet up with him after work in order to hunt some pickerel and panfish. Those weekend mornings where we weren’t able to go fishing, we would often enjoy watching Bill Dance or Roland Martin (Bill for him and Roland for me) and going to the World Fishing and Outdoor Expo was the highlight of my winter. I often say that fishing strengthens family bonds while creating memories, and in that regard, my father was overwhemingly successful.
As I grew, I became a very different man than my father and it made things rocky to say the least, but we always had fishing. No matter how tenuous the relationship, any animosity or tension seemed to fade as if carried away by a river at the promise of fishing together and making new memories. I am convinced that the afternoons fly fishing on Long Island, day trips to the Upper Delaware River, summers spent on the lakes, rivers, and streams of the Poconos, and the annual excursions to Canada or Maine maintained our bond as father and son; we were fishing buddies and we share those memories.
I will never forget the look in his eyes when we were fly-fishing together on the Connetquot River around his birthday. It was August 2002 and with roughly one (1) hour left in our fishing day, I tied on a chartreuse Woolly Bugger. After only a cast or two, the line went tight and I hooked what I thought was a nice sized Rainbow Trout. It was not until the fish jumped that I realized this was the Brook Trout of a lifetime.
I immediately called out to my father and as I netted the fish and removed him from the stream I was noticeably shaking. I had caught hundreds of Brook Trout before but not like this one. Measuring 18 inches and three pounds, my father was smiling as much as I as he was remembering that he had done the exact same thing, on the same body of water, 20 years before.
Then there was the time I caught my first 4lb smallmouth bass. He relished telling me the story of how my “Iaconelli” style screaming, heard from across the lake, caused the man my father was speaking with to say, “Wow, you’d think that boy lost his virginity.” My father turned to the man and with a tremendous sense of pride proclaimed, “That is my son, and trust me, he got something big.” And we will surely remember the night on the pier in Ocean City, MD.
While visiting my grandparents, my father and I went to the Ocean City Inlet Pier after dinner (around 8pm) and promised my mother that we would be back by 11pm. When we walked into the tackle shop (which lead to the pier) we saw a wall of Polaroid photographs from the night before and were immediately giddy; then we learned the bite came on the tide which had been at 10pm the night before. I looked at my father, knowing the tide would be coming in as we had to leave. He sighed, said “Let’s go,” and walked out on the pier only half hoping for success.
In a day before cell phones, we arrived home three hours late having caught two dozen weakfish (keeping the legal limit) and a fluke. Hoping she would be fast asleep, we quietly snuck into the house to find my mother and grandmother sitting at the kitchen table. My mother was both angry and relieved but the angry part seemed to be winning out. He knew the risk and still chose to create a memory. Fortunately for dad, I quickly and calmly explained to my mother that we stayed for the benefit of her father, who enjoyed freshly caught fish, and that we had to wait for the tide to do so. He still received an earful but a significantly diminished one at that.
I have a lifetime of memories; moments I hold on to; the moments I look forward to. Because my father took me fishing, I have been to some of the most beautiful places on earth; I spent my time in the woods and on the water, minimizing the mischief I would have otherwise found myself in. Because my father took me fishing, we have a solid relationship today. Today, I take my daughter fishing because my daddy took me fishing.