Fishing Links A Tribute to Dad

Childhood memories are very special and none are as emotionally stirring as those first memories of fishing with dad. There is something very magical about those innocent times. In a little person’s world dad knew everything and there was so much to learn about life that one could barely sit still long enough to take any of it in. It’s a wonder any of us survived and especially dad, who had the patience of a saint. Earliest memories of fishing with my dad, John Barnes, was on vacation at a little lake in Idaho and going off with dad, just him and me. We caught a bucket full of little pan fish, took them back to the campsite and had mom cook them for supper. Then there was the time we were in Arkansas, fishing for Rainbow Trout. Dad had my sister and I sitting on the bank watching him show us how we were supposed to accomplish our mission. Then, we each had a turn at fishing, and poor old dad ended up having to pay for our trout by the inch! Growing up, there were lots of fishing trips, some successful and some were not, but each and every trip was special. On one trip, dad and I were fishing Lake Fork, we had a slow day and the fish just weren’t cooperating. About the time dad was getting very disgusted and saying worm fishing just wasn’t for him, a 6-# bass hit his worm. His rod bent over double and he cranked and he cranked and he worked hard trying to get that big bass in and when he did, the look on his face was priceless and the grin was from ear to ear! We both ended up catching fish about the same size and released them. We had a wonderful time and had the photo to prove it! After dad retired, he and mom moved to S.Texas on property that had been in the family since the 1840’s. On the back property line is the Blanco Creek and it is as beautiful as any I’ve seen. It has big white sand bars on either side and normally it’s only knee deep with spots being 10-12′ deep. Depending on the time of year, the water can be either crystal clear or stained. Every time I go home, dad and I always find time to go down to the creek or over to the neighbor’s pond and work in a few hours of fishing together. It’s a great thing to pass the love of the sport from generation to generation. If my dad had not shared his love of the outdoors and fishing, I’d probably be off shopping at the mall right now! Instead, I’m fishing about 45 weekends a year and all my vacation time. My dad spent time fishing with all his children; and now, the kids (all grown) are teaching their own children and grandchildren how to fish. Statistics show that if you don’t get a child started fishing by age 11, chances are they never will take up the sport. If you talked to a hundred avid anglers and asked them how they got started, you would hear 100 different stories, but most of them would involve fishing with dad! Every story teller would start out having a distant look that transfixes and transforms the angler. By the end of the story, you would see a gleam and a brightness in their eyes that wasn’t there before! Those early experiences set a precedent for the rest of our lives and formed memories that we will cherish forever. All of our lives are complex these days. Everyone’s off in different directions and seldom do we manage to get together for those cherished fishing trips. However, last weekend, I asked my dad to be my partner in Port City Bass Club’s monthly tournament held on Coleto Creek. Dad and I haven’t been together in a boat for quite a few years and this was the perfect opportunity to celebrate his 75th birthday. I had never been to Coleto Creek and it was a tough weekend, we had high bluebird skies, strong north west winds of 15-20 mph and the fishing was not under the best cir*****stances. There were six other clubs fishing the lake at the same time and boat traffic was intense. We started fishing on an outside point and worked our way around and into a small cove. Right away, dad caught the first two fish, small ones, but nonetheless, the first two that came to the boat were dad’s. As we worked our way out of the cove, we found bigger fish on the points, holding in the shallow brush in 2-5′ depths. I was using a Surface Action CastAway graphite rod spooled with 12# Big Game and caught the next two keepers on a 3/8 oz. Mr. Blitz spinnerbait. Why is it that just when you think you’ve got it figured out things fall apart? By 9:00 a.m. we could have quit fishing as we didn’t catch but one more fish the rest of the day and it was a non-keeper. Sunday started off the same, instead of wind, we had fog. Dad and I figured we had better catch our fish early before the sun came up and the fish quit biting. We went back to the same area and immediately I caught one keeper and two non-keepers. Again, we thought we were off to a good start but when the sun popped up through the fog at 8:15 a.m., the wind picked-up and the bite was over (at least for us), and we were off again in search of keeper fish. I made a comment to dad about how much improved his casting had become over the past few years, and he replied, “After fishing on the creek and pond, I had to get better or else own stock in Wallmart!” We both chuckled and kept on chunking. Later on, the wind was blowing pretty strong and I looked back at dad in time to see a big tree limb coming up and before I could warn him, he was wedged between the limb and the windshield, we laughed some more and kept on fishing. In spite of the conditions we had a great time, shared some moments together, and made a few more memories for the log book. Fishing is timeless and ageless, and it’s a family tradition that should be passed on for future generations to enjoy!

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