Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And Then There Was Fishing

The grip of winter is breaking (in some places) and spring winds are starting to blow. Baseball is almost here and college basketball tournaments are going on left and right. Of course, all this is but a minor prelude to what's really coming on the horizon: fishing! That's right. It's getting real close to the time for rods and reels to be cleaned and readied, for boat engines to be fine tuned and for vacation plans to be charted out. Spring and summer are soon to be here -- and with the warm weather comes dreams of landing a lunker!

My dad was a fisherman He would not pass up a chance to get out in a boat, cast a line along the bank or crank some spinner bait in his search for the next "big one." He would fish fresh water lakes, farm ponds, oceans -- and I even saw him dip a line in a fish tank once. He had several rods and reels and a tackle box filled with mysterious things -- things that had this odd way of hooking themselves onto my fingers and palms when I reached in to grab one.

Dad did his best to pass along his love of fishing. He would take his sons to the lake and give us a cane pole baited with a worm and a bobber. His instructions were simple: watch the bobber until it jerked under the water, then give the pole a mighty yank until the fish came flopping up on the bank. Hours spent watching that red and white bobber felt like only minutes the moment that sphere bounced, then disappeared under water. The rush of adrenaline and Dad's wide grin made the hours of waiting well worth it. It was a heady experience, and one not easily forgotten.

Not forgotten either were the times when Dad would share wisdom and knowledge with his sons. His deep, quiet voice soothed as he passed along gems of fishing acumen like the best bait to use, the best depth to place the bobber and the best moment to set the hook. As we got older he also shared valuable insights on dating, work, the military and the government. His voice was barely audible as the sun set and the bats chased mosquitoes, but still we listened intently. We were hearing his heartfelt words, and we knew they were words that even then would shape our futures.

I cherish those days and still remember the tone and inflection of his voice. The power of a dad and his son sharing on the banks of a river or lake should not be underestimated. As we get ready for this year's Men's NetWork fishing contest, perhaps it will give you the chance to pass along some wisdom, insights and timely advice to your son.

While the world seems to have an endless supply of crazy going on, fishing with your son is an excellent way to step out of the frenzy and come together for a while.

And when you do, be sure to remember this: you're not only creating memories, you're forming a man.

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