I think my parents had it right. They understood it was more important for me to go to events like the opening days of dove, trout, deer, duck and pheasant season than it was to be in school that day! In fact, teachers at my country school also seemed to think that it was a great idea for me to spend some special time with my Dad, grandfather and their buddies. Those were exciting days, ones I greatly anticipated.
Getting picked up at school was incredible because the rest of the kids knew I was going fishing. A teacher would say Dad or Mom needed to pick me up and to go to the principal’s office to wait. I knew Dad probably had gotten a hot tip about the fish biting somewhere. I can remember how the other kids would jealously watch from the playground as I pulled away, with Dad hauling the boat and the poles sticking out behind our pickup! The next day, friends would want to know how we did! I could feel their disappointment, because they said they wished their dads took them fishing, too.
He made sure that I was in on just about everything, and it made me live for those special moments with my family. My Mom was totally on board, realizing there was nothing more important than being able to spend time with my Dad — a great outdoorsman and a man of integrity. I believe that if kids just had this kind of opportunity, it would change our world! If you think not, just watch how most kids react (positively) when you put them in this kind of environment. They tend to drink it in!
It occurs to me that those relatively few days had a disproportionate impact on who I was and what I became, which also seems to be the case for many others who grew up the same way. Being accepted into the fraternity of outdoorsmen I idolized was a huge step in feeling that I was worthy — and that I also could become a respected outdoorsman. Learning to respect others, shouldering responsibilities, being good for your word and shutting your mouth when it was painful while soldiering on were lessons administered with love by Dad, Grandpa and their friends. Funny, but all our friends looked after me like I was their son — and talked to me intimately when I needed it with firm, but gentle kindness and direction. They were incredible life mentors that influenced my outlook, passions and drive, never allowing me to do less than my best.
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Over the last 10 years I’ve talked to many people who have confided that they still greatly regret that they didn’t get to fish with their Dad, Mom or mentor. I can feel their deep loss, especially since I have great memories that live on. Yes, everyone is busy, but in this increasingly chaotic and confusing world, with unceasing social media, I think our kids need our direction, undivided attention and time more than ever. I want to be my son or daughter’s hero!
I recently guided a father, 70, and his son of about 35, who I learned had been estranged a few years earlier. The father knew the son loved to fish and had extended the olive branch to go on a trip together with me. You could feel the tension at first, with the son pretty stiff and nonresponsive. But once we caught some fish, that tension receded. At the end of the day, they were hugging and laughing! Later, with tears in his eyes but relief on his face, the father told me that the trip had been everything he hoped. He had been deathly afraid of losing his son!
Roger’s rule: Our tomorrows are limited! Make time. Take your kids fishing. It may be the most important gift you give them. Never give up!
Delta bass and striper bites hitting on all cylinders, Randy Pringle said. Eastman and Hensley bass bites solid, Mark Inman reported. Don Pedro kokanee, king salmon and trout bites good, Monte Smith said. Millerton spotted bass still hitting, Merritt Gilbert reported. Kaweah pumping out catfish trout and bass, Pete Cormier said. Wishon and Courtright trout cranking, Chuck Crane reported.