“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for the rest of his life.”
My grandfather, Pop, said, “If you can’t tie a knot you’ll never get the fish to the boat.” I remember Pop teaching me the clinch knot after losing a bass and his Hula Popper. I told him it broke my line, but Pop pointed out that the end of my line was kinked up from all of the “made up knots” that I thought would hold.
My Pop was a good, kind man. As a boy I always looked forward to summer when he and my Granny would take us camping for the weekend. We’d arrive early Friday afternoon and I would start asking immediately when we were going fishing. Pop could hardly get out of the car and unload it due to my begging. 5 o’clock meant that it was time to go, but little did I know there was still a lot of work to be done just to get to the lake, get parked, load the boat and carry the dreaded heavy battery to our Jon boat! I was a preteen with no worries and all I wanted to do was fish. At that time, I had no idea how much work it took to fish for 3 to 4 hours. Pop did and he did it because he loved me and loved to fish.
Pop taught me a lot about life while fishing. First was patience, that I still don’t have a lot of, but I’ll make “one more” cast with the best of them. By using my Zebco 33 instead of his ABU Garcia bait caster, I learned maturity. I wanted so bad to throw that bait caster until I did without him knowing and I remember him making me sit there and untangle my backlash until I could start fishing again. I was so happy to get my Zebco 33 back in my hands and realized that the bait caster would come later on in life. I also learned persistence. You’ll never master that cast and where to put it without practicing, being consistent and not quitting. I remember losing a nice bass at the boat and crying! I told him that I was ready to quit and go home. That day Pop said all the right things and convinced me to keep at it. Little did I know that a few minutes later we would get a lot more strikes and bass in the boat. At this point, I totally forgot about losing the bass earlier in the afternoon.
As I got older and started fishing from the dock by myself, he trusted me to gather my tackle, rods and to stay on the dock per his instructions. There he told me where to cast so that the bass would come in and feed on the bream that stayed near the dock. His experiences he shared always paid off. Pop laid a good foundation for me. Till this very day I can reflect back on my time fishing with Pop and apply the essential lessons I learned from fishing- lessons of patience, persistence and having a good attitude. Now that I’m a dad, I get to share these same lessons with my son. I only wish I had the patience that Pop had with me. My son isn’t ready for the bait caster either….
On May 19th, 2017 at the age of 91, Pop went home to be with Lord. I’d give anything if he could take me fishing one more time. I’d like for my son to have the experience of fishing with Pop too…and for Pop to teach my son, like he did me, that the world isn’t going to end when you lose a fish.