Thursday, June 4, 2009

I went fishing with my father.

I first posted this blog over at the Love Inspired Authors Blog, but I wanted to share it here, too. This is my dad, Clarence, and my grandson, Josh. They are the special men in my life.

My dad developed a wonderful tradition of taking us all fishing after Mass on Easter Sunday. In the Flint Hills of Kansas, not too far from a wide spot in the road called Delevan, is my dad’s cattle pasture. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Flint Hills, let me draw you a picture.

Imagine grass. Miles and miles and miles of emerald green new spring grass laid like a carpet over gently rolling hills and loaf shaped bluffs that aren’t very tall but stretch as far as you can see.

Is it in your mind? Can you see it? Blue sky, green grass and nothing else but the wind whistling past your ears. That’s it.

What that grass covers in rock. Not flint for which the hills are named, but limestone that juts out in big blocks and millions of white stones that defeated man’s attempt to plow every acre of my state and turn it into wheat fields. Gotta love those rocks. They saved a beautiful part of God’s lawn.

Now, if you are out in the Flint Hill and you see a tree, it will be down in a gully hugging the banks of a spring fed creek. It will most likely be a thorny wonder called an Osage orange or a tall shimmering cottonwood tree. There are lots of springs hidden out in the hills. The ones in our pasture come out of a rocky ledge in five big holes about three inches across. The water pours out like someone left the garden hose running and it’s cold.

Are there any fishermen or women reading this? Well, if there are you know that bass love the cold water, and my daddy loves to catch bass.

So each Easter Sunday, weather permitting, we gather up the family from across the state and head to the pasture and a deep section of the creek where the bass and catfish have waited all winter for our spinners and worms.

If the truth be told, it isn’t so much about the fishing. Oh, the rods and reels get a workout, but so do the lawn chairs. We all catch up with each other’s lives, we LAUGH and we eat. Hot dogs and marshmallows cooked over an open campfire taste better in the shade of those old Osage orange trees than they do anywhere else in the world.

At the end of the day we’ll leave the pasture to the cattle getting fat on the endless supply of grass and we’ll go home with a few pictures of someone’s big fish (this year it was mine) and one other things that’s essential to us all. A sense of renewal. A family brought closer together - reconnected by a powerful sense of belonging to the land.

It’s a wonderful Easter gift. One my father has given to his children and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. Thanks Daddy, for teaching me to bait my own hook all those years ago.


  1. I grew up going fishing with my dad. We went to a place called Larry's Lake. We caught a fish called a bullhead. You know, I've never heard of that fish again, only when fishing with my dad. After we were done fishing, Dad and I would bring them home and he'd release them into my little, round, blue swimming pool until he had time to clean them. Right now I'm thinking I should have protesting the swimming pool use, but back then, I didn't care.

  2. I used to go fishing with my dad and brothers when we were kids in Montana. We lived in Billings and our house sat on a bluff overlooking the Yellowstone River. We used to hike down to the river and fish. We also caught a lot of bullheads. My dad and grandpa used to fly fish and catch trout. Oh, I can still taste them.

  3. Pamela,
    We caught bullheads all summer long on the creek that ran through our farm using worms and a cane pole with a red and white bobber.

    A good old down-home bullhead fries up into a great dinner.

    I don't know about swimming with them, although we did swim in that creek. You'd have to watch out for those sharp fins.

    Happy fishing

  4. Merrillee,
    Hey, my brother left the plains of Kansas years ago and now runs a fishing lodge and guides trout fishing in Fort Smith, Montana. His place is called the Leaning Tree Lodge.

    He guides on the Big Horn and on the Yellowstone, too. Beautiful country up that way. We tease him that that he traded our little Flint Hills for bigger bluffs.

  5. Before my aunt and uncle moved to Maine, they lived in Montpeiler, Vermont. My sister and I would go and spend a week or two with them during the summer or when we had time. Now I know that Montpeiler doesn't sound like it would have much fishing, but we did just that! It became tradition to go swimming in the "swimming hole" in the afternoon when it was really hot. Then, for dinner we would grab Kentucky fried chicken with baked beans and biscuits and cross the street to McDonald's to get french fries(because McDonald's fries are better than KFC's). We would go to the place where we fished(to this day I still don't know where it is!) and fish. Alicia(my sister) and I would fish with our uncle's help, while our aunt was getting the food ready. We would stop to eat, then go back to fishing. We never kept anything that we caught, though. We would go back to the house and "go camping" in the backyard. First, though, we would sit around a campfire and tell stories and eat s'mores. It was so mcuh fun! I wish that they hadn't moved so we could have done it more, but at least we have the memories.

  6. Hannah,
    Your fishing adventures sound wonderful. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. What a wonderful tradition, pat!

    My husband is taking my daugher fishing next weekend. :) She always catches more fish than any of the guys. LOL


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