Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I do what I do..........

    When I'm asked how I became so passionate about fishing, the answer is always the same. But to be honest, I never get tired of answering the question. My grandparents owned a home in Harpers Ferry, Iowa and I spent almost my entire summer on the Mississippi river from age three on up. With a guide like my grandfather, I had the luxury of being asked what I would like to fish for that day. And as a youngster, my answer would vary from bobber fishing live bait for bluegills and crappies, to throwing big spoons and giant Mepps spinners for northern pike. But it didn't take long before I discovered that bass fishing, specifically the wide variety of baits to fish them with, grabbed my attention, and started a passion that hasn't let go to this day. I cannot truly express the gratitude I have for all the time and patients my grandfather showed me. I can only hope to follow in his foot steps and teach my children the simple joys of fishing, and hopefully install in them a life long passion for spending time on the water.
     My daughter Kennedy (9), and my son Grant (5) have been around the world of bass fishing by default. Listening to dads stories, viewing pictures, and coming to weigh in's has exposed them to tournament fishing and to dad's competitive nature. I cautiously view this as a positive, simply because I want them to experience fishing for the simplicity that it is. I remember Kennedy's first really fishing trip to the river, in which she simply couldn't keep her line in the water because the bluegills where bitting so quickly it was only a matter of dropping the line in the water. I was thrilled as a father to watch her smiling face as she kept pulling bluegills out of the water, showing the same suprized expression every time she caught one. To add contrast to this story, I can remember Grants first trip fishing as being a dull waiting game with few bites and no fish. As a parent I was robbed of the joyful expressions I expected to see in Grants face, and was left reassuring him that fishing doesn't always mean you will be catching. Needless to say, I didn't have Grant running to the vehicle the next time I said, "hey lets go fishing".
     But that is what the simply joy of fishing is. Not seeing the whats under the water, not knowing if you will catch any fish that day, the size, the species, ect. Just hoping for a good day on the water was enough for me as a child and I hope that is enough for my children as they continue to grown and develop as individuals. As a parent, I have always embraced technology and the educational properties inherent in today's electronic world. So in my quest to expose my children to the world of fishing, I have used this to my advantage on the water and at home. The other aspect of fishing that echos today's culture, is the competitive nature inherent in our children's lives. I'm not one who shy's away from competition, in fact, i'm actually a proponent of it. I believe the challenges that come with competition bring out traits and character in people they never knew they had. But competition at an early age is a delicate thing, that needs to be monitored. That's why I don't let them see me get too high when i do well in a tournament, and I don't get too low when i do not do well in a tournament.
     It's comforting to see all the friends I have in the bass fishing tournament community talking from time to time about taking their children out chasing the little green fish, or fishing in general. I see more and more father and son/daughter teams on the various tournament series and open tournaments around the upper Mississippi river valley. I'm anxious to expose my daughter and son to the bass tournament world, but want to keep in mind why I fell in love with fishing in the first place. If they have that foundation to build on, they can pursue anything they want on the water, as long as it brings them the same joy and satisfaction that I get from our sport every time out.

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