Since I was a young child, my dad, Mike, encouraged me to spend time in the outdoors. Growing up in a family that hunted and fished, I do my best to make nature a part of my life.
It being Father’s Day week, I took some time to reflect on my dad. So it was only fitting that, with both of us longing for some sunshine and nice weather, we drove east to fish the Catskill Mountains in New York.
The area is known as the birthplace of East Coast trout fishing. It’s wild, scenic and remote enough to unplug, but not too wild as to where you can’t find the necessities. The peaceful, quiet solitude the area provides allows one to relax and remove oneself from day-to-day stress.
As trout live in cold, clean water, fishing for them takes you to pretty places. Blending fishing with nature is the greatest outdoor experience I can imagine.
My dad, a newbee to trout fishing the last five years, has gotten the itch, too, and was eager to go fishing. Spring rains and high water has washed out much of the local scene. Hoping to find something close, with time off and an optimistic forecast, a seven-hour drive to the New York Catskills seemed to be the best option. And for Father’s Day, listen to dad.
Over four days, we shared stories, watched nature, caught trout and spent quality time together — all the things we hoped to accomplish on the trip.
Without someone to introduce me to the outdoors, I’m not sure if I would have ever found it. I’d probably be staring at a cell phone all day or hooked up to a video game system. My dad’s lessons created my lifelong passion.
Admittedly as a kid, I didn’t and sometimes still don’t find sitting and freezing in a tree stand or watching a bobber fun. There are only so many times you can make up a story to tell a bored kid — “be ready, this time of day the big ones bite” or “this is a good spot with a lot of big fish or big bucks” — in effort to pass the time and keep interest keen.
Unlike the stereotype of my generation, technology, video games or cell phones have never been my thing. With my active, busybody lifestyle, I always got bored easily ... and still do. To counter that, I’m always trying new things and striving to learn more about nature and the sports I enjoy within them.
As another Father’s Day passes, I reflect on the lessons and values my dad taught me. I know that one day it will be my job to pass those values down to my children. If we want things to last, we have to care and respect them. But we also need to educate and expose people to them.
I understand nature, hunting and fishing is not be for everyone. Taking time to appreciate the natural world and skills and lessons it teaches us goes well beyond the tangible photographic evidence of catching a fish or harvesting a trophy animal. It’s the bonds, relaxation and lifestyle we learn from nature, something so many take for granted.
For that, I say, “Thanks, Dad.”