Dads do a lot for their kids. My father was not a fisherman, but I have some memories of fishing with him that become more special each year. The older I get the more I realize the sacrifices he made so I could fish, even though he did not like fishing.
We went camping at Clark’s Hill often and I will never forget a couple of trips. One of the first, when I was about 10, involved me, my best friends Harold and Hal, and our fathers. All six of us were in a wooden boat and the men were throwing Hula Poppers around shoreline cover while we boys paddled the boat.
Mr. Bill, Harold’s dad, caught most of the fish. He fished a lot and was much better at casting than dad or Hal’s dad, Mr. Bonner. Dad managed to catch a couple of bass but lost several more. The next week he went and bought a new rod and reel and several new Hula Poppers so that would not happen again.
I don’t think Dad ever used that rod or Hula Poppers. I still have a couple of them that survived my use over the years. Many times I tried to learn to use that old baitcaster and solid glass rod, but never got the hang of it. I am not sure what happened to it.
Another strong memory was a trip to Elijah Clark State Park. I had heard about fishing at night for crappie and white bass under bridges at the lake, and there was a bridge a few hundred yards downstream of the park. I talked daddy into renting a row boat and taking me fishing under the bridge one night.
I was so excited I could hardly stand it, and it felt like it would never get dark. We went to the area where they kept the row boats with our tackle, a bucket of minnows and a lantern as the sun set. I loaded the rods and tackleboxes into the boat while daddy got the paddles.
Daddy rowed to the bridge, tied up and hung the lantern over the side. I got my rod ready and looked for the minnow bucket. It was not in the boat. Daddy did not say anything, he just got the lantern in, untied the boat, rowed back to the park and got the minnows, still sitting where I had left them.
Although he had rowed us a couple of hundred yards each way for nothing, daddy never fussed at me for forgetting the minnows. After rowing back to the bridge we fished for several hours without a bite. I was just about asleep by the time daddy rowed us back to the park and took me to the camper for bed.
The only kind of fishing daddy seemed to enjoy was catching crappie around the bushes in the spring at Clark’s Hill. He would spend hours in a boat with my mom and me catching crappie. I realize now he was thinking about all the good eating and did not mind “wasting” time fishing since he was filling up the freezer with fish.
Daddy bought a 17 foot Larson outdrive ski boat for us in 1966. I loved to ski as a teenager but wanted to fish, too. I rigged up a wooden seat that fit over the front running light and had a drop down part for the trolling motor. I fished many days from that boat until I was able to buy my first bass boat in 1974.
When daddy saw my bass boat and how easy it was to fish from, he decided to fix up the ski boat for him and mamma. He built a nice platform with a swivel seat on it, and put a foot controlled electric motor on it. That worked great for easing around the edges and fishing for crappie. He was very good at putting things together like that and made a much better fishing boat than I was able to make.
I have a lot of fantastic memories growing up, and often wish I could go back and enjoy some of those times again. Fathers and children, don’t let any more time pass without making some memories of your own. Go fishing together and enjoy the time you have. It will be gone all too soon.