My kids absolutely hate it when I use this phrase. It’s sorta’ like, “Oh boy, here comes another one of Dad’s (long) stories. One we’ve probably heard several times before.”
And that’s why I love to use it! It gets great eye rolls, under breath whispers, but also respect as they feign listening intently as I drone on and on. You know, Dixie and I spent many years raising these 3 girls, oftentimes with serious frustration. So just call this “an old guy’s getting even” or something like that.
Anyway, I did want to share a story with you. It’s from almost 70 years ago when I was just a wee little “bugger”. So it definitely qualifies as a “Why, when I was a boy” story……
Very often I am asked “how did you get interested in fishing?”. That’s a good question, especially when my answer is “I’m not sure I remember”. You see, I’m a “boomer” born just after World War II. Mom and Dad got married after the war and I came along about 11 months later. Dad was working 2 jobs along with starting an auto parts business, but he still managed to take a week off and head to “the great north woods” in a rickety pre-war car with Mom, me, my aunt and uncle and cousin and every conceivable piece of fishing gear he could load in.
Now in the late forties “the great north woods” was Wisconsin for us southern Indiana Hoosiers. Heck, it was over 500 miles away! And it took 2 days to get there by the time we picked up my aunt and uncle and cousin. No Interstate highways. In some instances no paved roads, especially as we got closer to our destination. But we did arrive and Dad, Uncle Bill, Aunt Aileen and cousin Bill, Jr. couldn’t wait to get on the water and start fishing. Of course, at less than a year old I was relegated to my Mom’s watchful eye which at that young age didn’t include any boat rides or fishing poles.
Within a couple of years I guess I found myself holding a fishing pole and actually enjoying playing with squiggly fishing worms and elusive minnows. I’m not sure just when the “fishing bug” bit me, but it’s a good chance it happened before I was 3 years old. As the years passed Dad and Uncle Bill kept moving our annual fishing trip further and further north. Rhinelander, southern Minnesota, the Duluth area, Ely, and finally International Falls. Then when I was 9 or 10 we made the ultimate trip: Oscar Larsen’s Rowan Lake Lodge, a fly-in destination in Northwestern Ontario. After that trip I became “the fisherman”. Eating and drinking and sleeping fishing. Anything else was a distant second.
By the time I was 13 dad had bought a cabin on Lake of the Woods in Ontario just outside of Nestor Falls. Now I had a chance to not only fish whenever I wanted to in the summer, but I actually found a way to make money doing this as well. It was called guiding. Yep, I was a guide. Guests paid the lodge $15 a day and I got $10 of that fee. Often, if the guests caught lots of fish I got a nice tip on top of the $10. Heck, I could easily earn $50 or more a week during the “high” season. To me this was as close to heaven as mortal man would ever get.
Eventually school, marriage, family, and business all conspired to limit my fishing excursions, but they never eliminated them. Our 3 daughters love to fish, and now our 8 grandkids are quickly becoming the fourth generation of fishing fanatics. I’m proud that not only have Dixie and I introduced these kids to fishing, but have kept that fire going for some time now. Seeing the look on someone’s face just as they hook “the big one” is really special, but seeing that look on your kids or grandkids face is simply priceless.
Almost seventy years later I still have “the bug”. It’s not so much about how many fish we catch anymore. Now it’s about the great memories of those earlier years of catching fish and listening to Dad and Uncle Bill share wisdom and more than one “big fish” story. Mom and Dad and Uncle Bill and Aunt Aileen have all passed on, but they still live in my heart as so many fond memories. Now it’s about planning a trip where the grandkids can hook into something larger than the last time. It’s about finding a new reel or rod that is lighter or smoother or simply different that promises an even bigger, scrappier fish than the ones currently hanging in the garage that we have caught. I guess most importantly of all, fishing gives us the opportunity to share the great outdoors and nature’s beauty with those we love. Still the same as “when I was a boy.”
Thank you for your wonderful friendship and support. All of us here at American Legacy Fishing truly appreciate your continued loyalty. We are so fortunate to have so many friends who share our joy and obsession with two of the world’s greatest sports. Thank you once again for all you do!