Everything I Know, I Learned From Fishing With My Dad

For as long as I’ve known my dad, 27 years now, fishing has always been his favorite hobby. Most Saturdays, he would get up very early and be back as we were just waking…any hobby that requires early rising sounds more like a job to me, but my dad loves it.


When I was little, and before I knew what was good for me, I would go with him. The night before, he’d ask if I wanted to go, I’d ask him what time he would be leaving and he’d usually say something like, “5:30 a.m.” I’d tell him to wake me up, and for a while there, I did.

Eventually, I realized waking up at 5:30 a.m. sucked and I would still ask him to wake me, but I wouldn’t, and then I’d ask him to wake me and he wouldn’t and eventually it became clear to all of us that fishing would not become a hobby we shared in common. But…in those times I did go, I believe it is safe to say that I learned everything I needed to know about life from fishing with my dad.

Much like fishing, life is all about patience and waiting. This has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn…because I hate waiting and I totally lack patience. I remember waiting in the boat for hours for something to happen, and when it did, when that bite finally came, it was so exciting. But that wait was torture. My dad never flinched at the waiting though. Some people, like my dad, were just born with a much more patient demeanor. If I only had a few words to describe my dad, patient would definitely be one of them. As I’ve mentioned before in other blogs, I was a difficult child to say the least. In my entire life, I can only remember a few times my dad got angry with me, or at least showed it (one time involved me and Whinny the Poo at Disneyland and I totally deserved it). He always remains calm, and although it has taken me many many years, I believe that because of his patient influence, I’ve grown a bit in this department. In life, I’ve had to learn that most things you have to wait for, but when that bite finally comes, it’s totally worth that wait.

Much life fishing, life is all about timing. My dad would explain to me that we would have to wait for the bite, then reel it in at just the right pace, and at just the right moment, we’d have to jerk the line, setting the hook. Jerking at the wrong time could result in losing the fish, and then we’d be back to waiting…So it was very important to get it right. Just as it’s important in fishing, it’s important in life. I believe I probably pushed things along a bit too quickly when I was younger, resulting in forced opportunities that didn’t work out. Waiting for the right timing goes hand in hand with patience, so it was never my strong suit. My dad has always been so good at knowing when to do something or when to say something and when to set that hook. Sometimes I still don’t understand timing and how it all works out, but he’s taught me to wait for the right moment and not rush it along.

Sometimes, much like fishing, you go home empty handed. I remember many times my dad walking in claiming defeat. I would just think, “Man, he sat there all morning in the cold and doesn’t have anything to show for it. What a bummer.” But it didn’t phase him. He knew, sometimes, the fish just weren’t biting that day, and he’d take another shot at it the next week. As I grew up, I realized that there were things that seemed worthless because I didn’t end up with that tangible outcome in hand, but my dad has taught me that lessons are to be learned in the process, and even though it might seem like a defeat, a lesson learned is not going home empty handed at all.

Sometimes in life, much like fishing, you have to throw it back. While fishing, sometimes we’d get that bite, reel it in, and my dad would say, “we have to toss it back.” I don’t really remember the reasons, to small, whatever, but the point was, after all that work, it was always so disappointed to just throw it back. In life though, the same applies. Sometimes, you go to a lot of effort with something, but you have to throw it back and start over. It’s always hard to do this, but in the end, the next one you end up keeping is always better. I’ve gone through some “fish” in my life, but my dad has always reminded me that there’s more in the sea and sometimes it’s just better to toss them back…and I can’t say how grateful I am for a few of those fish I tossed back into the murky water where they belonged.

Growing up, my dad was always there. He came to all my basketball games, he helped with my homework, and he played with us. We always went on vacations, we always went to church Sunday morning, and we always ate dinner together. I had a lot of friends growing up that didn’t have good dads. Some of them were just not around, some were abusive, and some just didn’t know how to raise a daughter. I got so lucky to have a dad that was patient and kind, and teased me, and coached my sports teams, and put(s) air in my tires, and is always there with great advice and wisdom. There are times I think about what my life would be like without a dad like mine and it makes me cringe. Most girls have daddy issues because their dad wasn’t good to them, I have daddy issues because my dad was too good, and it’s been pretty hard to find someone to live up to him.

In the end, after all the lessons I’ve learned from fishing with my dad, the most important is probably that anything that involves waking up when it’s still dark, peeing in bucket or off the side of a floating object, and sitting around waiting for something to happen while remaining quiet is the worse hobby ever. But my dad loves it and I love him, and I’m thankful for all the life lessons I’ve learned from him and for being the best dad any high strung, impatient, girl could ask for. I love you so much dad and will never forget the sacrifices you’ve made for us to give us such an amazing life.

A few of my fondest memories:

-Taking his big boots off when he got home from work

-Climbing around his Coke truck when he’s stop by for a surprise visit at home

-Every vacation we ever went on

-When he came and helped me get through my college friend’s funeral in Ellensburg

-When I called because I was having excruciating pain in my lower back and he told me it was gas…it was a kidney stone…not actually one of my fondest memories, but one of the few times I can remember him being wrong, so I had to throw that in.

-Every time I’d hit my brother and then run to him, and he’d yell at Drew for hitting me… Very fond memories…

-Climbing on his back and riding him around like a horse.

2 responses to “Everything I Know, I Learned From Fishing With My Dad

  1. Oh my goodness Denae, this was amazing! You write so well, and you have shown your Dad such honor in your writing this about him! You are a great daughter! Good Job!!

  2. It was a joy to read- beautifully written!

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