My father has been a lifelong fisherman. Growing up in Michigan, he chased panfish with cane poles throughout the Great Lakes region in an effort to put food on the table . Upon hearing the news that he was going to be a father, and he was having a son at that, he rushed out to buy a rod and reel. Before I was even born, I had a fishing rod. Maybe I was destined to be involved in fishing?
Very early on, my father took me fishing. My first trip was to Deep Creek Lake. Before I was allowed to even touch that green and white beauty, I was instructed using a cane pole. We camped out at the lake and caught bluegill and perch for dinner. As the years have passed, memories of that time have faded but I still remember my father holding a cane pole and lifting up a perch with a smile on his face. I caught my first bluegill there. I am positive that I was hooked on fishing from then on.
Having mastered the cane pole so to speak, I was allowed to advance to my shiny green and white Zebco. Before each fishing trip, my father had me practice with it by casting in the back yard. I had a little plastic plug tied on to the end of the line to aid in casting and reduce potential injury from a hook. We all know how awesome (not really!) kids are when they first start casting. It wasn't long before I got the hang of pushing that button on the reel and letting her fly through the air. Man could that rod cast and that reel sing!!
Between fishing trips with Dad and family vacation, some friends and I discovered a small pond down the road from the house. Seemed like it was miles away when I was walking there as a kid. Now I doubt if it was even a mile. I chased bluegill and largemouth in that pond with my friends for many years to come. Always with that Zebco. Looking back on it, those were some of the best times I ever had fishing. Many laughs, many smiles and a tremendous amount of fun. I used to come home with a stringer full of fish for dinner. I guess I am a little ashamed to admit that now. Oh well. Ignorant youth I suppose.
In my teens, I discovered girls but I kept on fishing with that Zebco. I can't for the life of me remember when, but at some point I broke the tip of the rod off and moved to a spin cast rod/reel combo. I am not sure if breaking the tip off caused me to make that move or not. I guess, looking at how we all progress as fishermen, it might have been inevitable.
I love fishing. Nowadays fly fishing and tying have become a way of life for me. I can't thank my father enough for introducing me to this most wonderful pastime I think my love for it may exceed his own love for fishing but not by much. The amount of joy that Zebco brought me cannot be measured nor accurately described in words. Seeing and holding it yesterday opened the floodgates allowing wonderful memories of outings in the past to wash in. It was amazing for me to race upstairs and share them with my wife and father. Some he remembered, and laughter rang out in the house. Almost thirty-nine years later, that Zebco can still bring a smile to the face of son and father alike. I do regret never having the time to honor my father's request and teach him how to fly fish. I think he saw very early on just how much I loved it and wanted to be a part of it. I also wish we could have taken one more fishing trip together. While he is still with us, fishing now is impossible for him. Memories never made and time lost. I am glad though I can still remember what it was like to fish with him all those many years ago.
It has taken a beating but still looks good!