Fishing with Dad
stick with it. When we moved to sterling we lived out at windsor apartments for a couple years and it was close to the bayou and I fished everyday one summer.
I would stay up until ten to catch night crawlers and then up at 4am and I would walk through the graveyard in the dark and be fishing at the first crack of light.
I would get my tackle by climbing trees and used stick poles. Later I would get a paper route and bought my first real fishing reel, a zebco 404 reel and a fishing
magazine I couldn’t get enough of.
Dad taught me how to make doughball to catch carp and it worked ok, but I still preferred worms because you never knew what you would catch. Occasionally I would
catch bass or crappie and I caught plenty of bluegill everyday using pieces of leaves on a small hook to lure them in. One day I caught so many I had them tied on a
ropes and left them full as I moved on down the bank and started another. When I returned to get all my stringers of fish nothing but heads were left, snapping turtles
got them and thus started my hatred of snapping turtles.
I used the stick poles in the mornings, having a half dozen or so in one stretch of the river. Sometimes I would get bites and then my poles would fly off the bank and
I would watch them move like a torpedo across the bayou never seeming to stop. The big carp would bite well until about 10am and then I would fish for bluegill or go
climb on the bluffs or run around with the other neighborhood kids. Some carp were so big I would wade out to get them, a new idea I came up with after losing a battle
with one big fish over and over. I was determined to catch that fish one way or another. One day I hooked a big one and it wouldn’t come in so I went out after it. I
was up to my neck in the water and I pulled up this gigantic turtle with a head bigger than mine, snapping away. I let out a loud scream and flew out of the water. I
never waded out again. I enjoyed the birds, being alone and loving nature. I was hooked on fishing, it was in my blood.
One day dad asked if I had been catching any catfish and I laughed and said no, there was no catfish in the bayou. He said later in the afternoon he would take me out
and show me how to catch them. I had only fished with dad a few other times, carp fishing along the Missouri River at night. So later we headed out and I was all excited
to be fishing with dad again.
We got there and dad got out a can of corn for bait. We each had a pole and I was using my new rod and reel. I had a bite and dad said just leave it, to let it bite and
wait it out. Five minutes later the fish was still biting and dad finally set ok, set the hook and so I did and was shocked to see it was a small catfish, my first.
The next year we went to visit my great aunt in upper michigan, she had a nice place on a private lake. I remember dad coming back the first day in a row boat talking
about a huge pike he lost while trolling a dare devil spoon. We was oaring as fast as he could to keep the lure going. Later after being a pest about taking me out he
finally agreed and Dad, my brother and I rowed out a short distance and we each had a pole and no one was catching anything except me. I don’t remember but I think I was
jigging my bait and was catching white bass one after the other. They didn’t get mad or anything, not a word was said.
That year we were building a house in rock falls close to the river. It became my hang out and I loved it. Whenever I got my work done on the house, that’s where I headed.
After the house was finished dad told me one day that he had a boat down on the river bank he borrowed from the neighbor. I was shocked. He asked if I wanted to take it for
a ride and I said ya sure. So we walked down the path to the river and there was a small row boat sitting on the sandy beach area where I fished. We got in and dad pushed off
and started to oar to the other side. The current was really strong and we ended up down river a ways. I was worried, I didn’t think we would make it back, but dad was determined.
He rowed back to the other side and then proceeded to row up against the current which a considerable amount of time, but we did make it back. That’s the last I ever saw of
that boat and last I ever saw dad by the river. He would die a few years later from heart attacks, but not before building two more house, remodeling ten and then fixed TV’s
after his first heart attack in 76.
In 1978 I was catfishing at night time up at lake Carlton in Morrison and doing pretty good. Any storm and the big channelcat would be biting back in the cuts up shallow.
Otherwise I could find fish out in the main lake down deep in brush piles. I happened by my parents house one afternoon and was telling my dad about how good the fish were
biting and even though he had had his major heat attack he wanted to go with me that night. I said ok, be at my house about 8pm and we would go. He showed up wearing this
roll up yellow fishing hat with a round bill like Gilligan wore on that show. He had his thermos, thin jacket and was ready to go. We threw my flatbottom in the back of the
truck with all the gear and headed out (my first boat, I didn’t have it long, I upgraded the next year).
We first went to one cut just to see if any big fish were around, but with no storm I had my doubts. After about 20 minutes I said we’re going to move. Dad said lets wait it
out, but I insisted we move so he reluctantly reeled in. We moved out to the main lake, dropped anchors and casted out. In no time we were catching fish. We kept shoving them
in this wire basket and it never seemed to fill up so we just kept on reeling them in. About midnight I asked dad if he was ready to quit and he said no, a little while longer.
At 2am he was shivering and put the lantern between his legs to keep warm. I asked if he was ready now and he said no a little while more. I’ll never get that picture out of my
mind, him sitting there smiling, wearing that silly hat with the lantern in front of him, reeling in catfish.
At 4:30 it was starting to get light and insisted we quit and so he reluctantly agreed. I pulled the basket in and most of the fish fell out the bottom trap door, and then I
realized why the basket never filled up, we were shoving the fish right out the bottom that somehow came open. But we still had some fish, the biggest fish were still in there.
I think Dad had the best fishing night of his life and if he had been healthier I think he would have been going a lot more, but mom said later that our trip was really hard on
him. He died about a year later.
I do remember making a trip up to Spirit lake, dad took us boys to a friends house who lived near there one evening. They talked about fishing and I sat and listened to
every word. We went out and watered down all around the house to catch nigh crawlers after dark before we went out night fishing. After an endless wait for it to get dark,
we finally went out and caught some bait and headed to the lake. First they stopped by a dock and gave us each a fishing pole and some bait and that was our spot for the
night and they walked off into the darkness to a marina to a boat that I never saw. They were going walleye fishing. I remember sitting on the end of the dock catching a
bullhead that we knew nothing about. I remember the moon shining over the water, the night was like a dream. It didn’t take us long to get tired and cold and by midnight we
were all in the car sleeping. That’s all I remember, woke up at home in bed the next day.
When I was 6 I remember dad coming in our room and waking us boys up and asking if we wanted to go fishing. We jumped out of bed ready to go. We would drive to the Misiouri
River there in Sioux city and fished on some concrete wall. Dad would cast out a few poles with his doughball bait and have us watch them and we were to tell him if the poles
moved. When the rod would bend over we would tell dad and he would quick grab the rod and start to fight the fish. Then he would climb down a bank into the darkness to get the
fish out of the water. I don’t remember seeing the fish except in a wash tub the next day. It wouldn’t take us long to head for the car and fall asleep. Back then kids played
hard all day and staying up all night wasn’t an option. Dad quit taking us after a few trips, he gave up fishing so my brother and I would ride our bikes about 5 miles to that
same area to fish. We didn’t catch any but it sure was fun trying.
In 1965 when I was 11 we moved to Sterling. I remember that drove across Iowa, spending the night in a motel with us kids sleeping on the floor and the next morning crossing
that bridge over the Mississppi River. It was huge, there was the main river then several sloughs. I knew then that was the place I wanted to be and it has been my home
fishing waters for many years and I sometimes fish or go by those same spots I saw when I was a kid.