Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Full Circle

Most parents, I think, try to, for good or bad, have their children experience the same experiences they had as a child.  Often times, the effort does not product the desired outcome.  An example:  I loved riding my bike.  I rode it everywhere.  Yes, it was the only way I was going to get anywhere, but I actually just liked riding my bike.  Instant independence as soon as you sat on the seat.  Instant freedom the second you left the driveway.  My kids...not so much a big deal.  Still, the chance to relive childhood experiences with my kids lives on.
One of the highlights of my youth was going fishing with my dad.  My dad has always liked to fish.  When I was very young, like 4 or 5, I remember him going fishing for the day with his buddies.  Throwing an old row boat on top of the car, filling a cooler with pop(code for beer), making some sandwiches, and heading out.  He even usually remembered to bring the fishing poles.  I remember him coming home with a mess of trout, cleaning them, and then we would cook them up for dinner that night.  When I got to be around 7, 8, or 9, somewhere around there, I remember him asking me if I wanted to go.  Just me and him.  I said sure.  I was hooked(pun). I spent many days sitting in a boat with my dad after that trying to catch my limit of fish.  There were, of course, the gentleman's bets of biggest fish caught, most fish caught, first fish caught, etc.  And there were, of course, good hauls some days, and some days when the fish just weren't interested in cooperating.  It didn't matter.  It was all good.  Eventually, my experiences fishing grew when I got my driver's license and was able to throw the boat on top of the car myself, and pickup my own buddies for an outing.  We, too, had our cooler stocked.  And, yes, somedays, we forgot to bring our fishing poles, too.
Eventually, though, we all get too caught up in real life and forget to do what we always enjoyed doing.  I think this is one of the benefits of having children.  They remind you of what you liked to do at one point in time and give you a reason to go for it again.  Last summer, I took my boy out a couple of times.  We didn't do that great.  Dad caught a few, but what made it worse is, my son didn't catch any fish.  After a few outings like this, it finally hit me. I was focusing on myself catching fish, but not enough on showing him how to catch fish.  It was like I thought he was going to learn by osmosis or something.  I entered this summer with a different thought process.  The first two times we went, I didn't even fish.  I was there to help bait a hook, show how to cast a rod, what to look for when a fish is interested, and hopefully, to remove the fish from the hook.  Get this, forget bringing a fishing pole.  I didn't bring a cooler(!) or even my camera.  I called it "Switching Focus".  Lo and behold, we had an 8 year old boy catching fish and even better, getting hooked on fishing.  Since those early summer outings, we've had a camping trip up North planned with my mom and dad.  I told Derek that we would go fishing with Grandpa, in a boat(We usually shore fish around here).  Talk about focus.  More times than I can count, the boy has asked if we're still going fishing in a boat with Grandpa.  This last weekend was the trip and on Saturday, as promised, Grandpa took us to his favorite fishing place with his boat.  He's upgraded these days and now has a motor and it is pulled behind the truck on a trailer. Fancy Shmancy.  And we don't really fish for trout these days, but instead for Crappies and Bluegills, and Perch, and such. Oh yeah, we brought the cooler too....for really, pop, for the boy.  We didn't forget the poles either.  Bets were placed before we hit the water. My son's idea, not mine, nor Grandpa's. $1.00 for the biggest fish and the most fish caught.(These kids get too much allowance).  Beautiful day to be on the water.  Sunny, no clouds, an eagle flying over head dipping into the water at times to do his fishing, 75 degrees, and 3 generations of Zelazoski's trying to catch dinner. 
With my dad's knowledge of how to fish the lake we were on, we had a nice steady day of action catching fish.  Not so many that you get tired of taking them off the hook(like that ever happens), and not so few that you start thinking of what else you could be doing.  The fish would bite for a bit, then stop.  At that time, we would move on the lake and start over again.  After 3-4 hours we decided it was time to get off the lake and support the local establishment on the lake for some food and some "adult" pops for Grandpa and myself.
Hopefully, days like Saturday will cement the experience like it did for me when I was young.  The fish my dad and I caught on those trips were great, but when we came home empty handed I don't ever remember feeling like I didn't want to do it again.  The old saying goes, "A bad day fishing is better than a good day working".  It still holds true because days like that are about so much more than catching your daily limit.  Enjoy the picture of Derek holding the days catch like a proud veteran of a fishing derby.  By the way, the kid won the contest for biggest fish and most fish.  I have a feeling I better learn when not to gamble with my son.


  1. Such a sweet story, Mark. It reminds all of us how, above anything else we may do, that connection with our family is the most important of all. Derek looks like quite the fisherman! And he is lucky to have his Dad.

  2. Very well written~ wish I had the writing skills you do! Mr. Shannon would be proud...

  3. Enjoyed the story and reminded me of fishing with my brother as a kid.. Good memories.
    I hope you got the three generation picture of the fishermen.

  4. Great story! Like true fisherman, the name of the lake is kept `under your hat.`