I have been a fisherman for most of my life. In fact I had a rod, reel and tackle box before I was even born. My father, also a fisherman, was thrilled to learn he was going to have a son. At a very early age my father started taking me on fishing trips. He taught me how to cast with my Zebco 202, where to look for fish and how to clean fish. If only my father knew what kind of monster he was creating.
Fast forward a few (20) years to when my daughter was five. My father and I took her to a local lake to fish. My father was so excited to have three generations of the Price family fishing together. My daughter enjoyed herself. As long as I baited the hook and did the casting she would gladly reel in the fish. I think my dad spent more time that day watching us then he did actually fishing. We went a few more times together, the three of us, before life got in the way. I spent a lot of time at work and I missed out on a lot. My father and I never really fished much more after that together. Over the years my daughter and I have fished together but only every so often.
When my son was born I remember talking to my father who was elated. He said "Now you, Gretchen, Nathaniel and I can go fishing together." I think he really wanted this to occur. Maybe even more than I realized at the time. However, my son was never interested in fishing. No matter what I did, he did not want to go. For him it was all about getting his hands dirty. He was very much his mother's son and was worried about being dirty. I think they might call that mild OCD- haha. My daughter and I would head out and ask him to go with us but he refused. He even got a Batman rod for Christmas one year but he wouldn't have any part of it. That boy just steadfastly refused to fish. My daughter and I continued to go. I remember talking to my father about it and complaining. He told me not to worry that he would fish at some point. Looking back on it now, I should have asked my father to go as well. About twenty years ago, I made the switch to fly fishing from conventional tackle. For me now it's not just a hobby or a way to fish, its my passion. Maybe even my way of life. In his quest to fish with me, my father bought a fly rod on his own and asked me to teach him. I promised him I would but I continued to work as much as I could. I missed out on a lot including birthdays, holidays and time spent with my family.
Last year during the summer months, my family and I vacationed along the Shenandoah River. We have been to this area a few times before and we really love it. I took my daughter down to the river and watched her catch smallies and red breasted sunfish like crazy. The water was crystal clear and everything was perfect. At some point during the trip, my son allowed us to talk him into fishing. He had his own pole which he brought just in case. So, I decided to tie on a Rapala for him and allow him to see what he could catch. Secretly, I prayed to the fishing Gods pleading with them to allow him to catch a few fish. I knew if he didn't catch anything I would never get him back out. Apparently they were listening because it didn't take long for him to score a smallie. He was so excited, all he could do was laugh as he reeled in his catch. It really didn't matter how big that fish was. All that mattered was that he caught it. He was thrilled beyond belief. Over the next couple of days he begged me to take him fishing. I even got him to wet wade... until he saw a snake. Then he was done with the wet wading but continued to fish. In some way I hope that I have created the same fishing monster in my son that my father created in me all those years ago.
I want to tell my father about my son's catch but I can't. He is still with us but he barely talks now and he doesn't know who I am. It makes me sad to see my father like that. I wish he could hear about his grandson's first catch and while I can tell him, he will not understand. For a long time I put my career first. I passed on spending time with my father on my days off because I needed a break or because I wanted to only fly fish and he didn't know how. I wish now I would have honored his request and taught him how to fly fish. Better yet, I wish I had one more trip with him. I know he would have loved to see his grandson land that smallie. I am thrilled my son enjoyed himself and that he wants to go again. Hopefully he will migrate to fly fishing in the future. If he doesn't, well that's ok as well. I just want to spend time with him and not miss out on anymore memories. It took seven years, Dad but I finally got him to fish!