Passing It On

Everett Johnson

I have been receiving some great emails and photos from readers telling of exceptional fishing trips with kids and grandkids and we have been publishing these as space allows. Reading them and viewing the photos brings back memories of my youth; time spent with my father along lake shores and mountain streams, camping, fishing and hunting.

One of my all-time personal-best experiences was the two of us roughing it in a 1960 Rambler American, the kind with seats that laid flat. We spent nearly a week on a wild and secluded stretch of Pennsylvania's Allegheny River. We had a twelve foot aluminum johnboat but no motor. In my mind Paul Bunyan could not have rowed that thing better than my dad.

We spent our days wading and drifting for smallmouth bass and occasional walleye. We ate a lot of fried bologna, sardines and fried fish. Baked beans or potted meat spread on a slice of homemade bread with a green onion was as good for breakfast as it was for a late-night snack. My dad said we didn't need to take baths as we swam in the river every day and that suited me fine.

The trip was all about fishing and being together. We fished day and night, slept only when we collapsed sometime in the darkness and arose at first light, catnapping in the warm sun. We waded the shoreline at night and caught soft-shelled crayfish in the glow of a Coleman lantern for bait. We dug under rotten logs for worms and grubs. We were wild on the river and didn't want for a thing. A true Huckleberry Finn adventure.

Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend I took my son and eight year old grandson fishing on San Antonio Bay. Finding waders to fit the boy wasn't easy, finding a wade fishing spot that worked for a guy about four feet tall wasn't easy either. We got it done though. Tanner was doing his own casting and catching, four fat specks that made a fantastic batch of fish tacos. No bologna or potted meat for dinner that night.

Wading the shallow edge of a deep gut with Tanner, my son waded off in the distance, my mind travelled back forty-eight years to the banks of the Allegheny. I have no idea if those who leave us and cross into eternity can still see us, but I sensed my father's spirit there with us. His son, grandson, and great grandson who all bear his name, fishing together, rapt in the wonder of nature, wild and free on the bay.

I wouldn't trade all the wealth on Wall Street for my memories. I'm planning lots of fishing days with my son and grandson, praying God will bless them as he has me, and that they too will reminisce fondly someday as I do now.

Spend time with your kids.
Get them on the water and into the woods. Help them understand the magic of a campfire. Teach them to hunt and fish with love and respect for the natural world. Memories are awesome.