Fishing with Dad

By James Belekanich

Fathers play an important role in their children’s lives. Some are practical jokers, some disciplinarians and others are big teddy bears. Regardless of what type of dad you have, their words, actions and life-long lessons leave lasting impressions. That’s why it’s critical to spend quality time with your kids and create what can be life-long memories.

Up until a few weeks ago, my dad and I hadn’t fished in years. Like many, we started fishing when I was a young boy, around 5 or 6 years old. I call them fishing trips but they were really about my dad teaching me lessons in life. Lessons about skills, patience, appreciation and responsibility. I can still hear his voice, patiently telling me how to put the worm on the hook. I really enjoyed our time together. Dad sitting me down on the grassy bank of a river, all the while describing everything around me.

As a young kid I couldn’t sit still for longer than a few minutes, so I didn’t catch many fish and I was bored most of the time. I hadn’t yet developed an appreciation for nature, so I couldn’t sit there quietly, enjoying the lakeside silence, the warmth of the sunlight or the beauty that surrounded us. Instead I wandered up and down the bank turning over rocks and logs, finding hooks and sinkers and digging holes in the dirt with sticks. I remember throwing exactly one rock into the lake before Dad told me to knock it off. “You’re scaring the fish.”

But I loved fishing with my father.  We would set up our poles and then go grab a sandwich together. When the fish would bite, whether it was on my pole or his, he would set the hook and let me reel it in. I was always proud when we’d get home, and I’d brag to my mom, “Guess what? I caught ten fish and Dad didn’t catch any!”

He never said a word, and just let me enjoy my special moment. In the end, that was one of the best lessons of all. Being a good parent isn’t about winning accolades or awards. Being a good parent means doing what’s needed to build a foundation of success for their children, and enjoying the smile on their kid’s face when they succeed. There’s not much more a parent could ask for. I hope that someday, when I’m a father, my kids will look back on the times we spent together and feel the same way I do when I think about my dad.

After visiting their first grandchild in Florida last month, my parents stopped in Dallas for a week before heading back home. I had planned a guided Lake Fork fishing trip with my dad but had to cancel due to water conditions, so we went pond hopping instead. He was a bit rusty but overall my dad still had it. He is and always will be a great fisherman, but fast forward 30 years and it occurred to me that we’d come full circle. I was the one patiently telling him how to put the artificial worm on the hook.

Thanks Dad, for all the times you took me—your hyperactive son with the attention span of a fruit fly—fishing. Thank you for the memories and for creating my bond with the outdoors. Thanks for teaching me how to do it on my own.

Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish

About the Author

A military brat growing up, James Belekanich now calls Dallas his home. He is a Regional Marketing Manager for AutoNation, and when he’s not working or kayak fishing, he enjoys working out, yoga and spending time with his fiancé. A proud University of Florida graduate, he is a die-hard Gator fan.  James also enjoys writing and has a kayak fishing blog, Yak Slime. To read his blog, click here:

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