April 2nd, 2001

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Growing Up Fishing
By Bob Krumm

Today is my father's birthday. Though he probably would like to forget about it, I am sure my mother will bake a cake and have a little celebration.

Since Dad is paralyzed and unable to speak due to a stroke he had two years ago, there's not much I can do or say to let him know how fortunate I am to have him as my father. You see, I have come to the conclusion my Dad is pretty extraordinary, especially when I evaluate him by today's standards. Dad spent time with me.

Dad taught me many things, but perhaps the most important was he taught me to fish. The initial excursions weren't much on reflection, but at the time they were the most exciting events that could happen to a young boy.

I remember my first cane pole. It must have been fourteen feet long. Dad tied some casting line onto the end and then some leader to the casting line. A red and white bobber, a bait hook, and a twist on sinker completed the outfit.

I felt like I was just like my fishing hero, Dad. I so wanted to catch fish, any fish, lots of fish, big fish, and small; I just wanted to catch fish.

The first trip was a hike across the neighbor's fields to the Grand River. My sister, Kathy, and mother were there. Kathy had here cane pole too. Dad baited our hooks with worms we had gathered just before the expedition.

The hole we fished wasn't exceptional, but it was just right for two youngsters since it lacked obstacles for us to get fouled up on and it had a nice grassy bank in the full sun. Whether it was immediate or took awhile, I can't recall, but I do know Kathy hooked a large carp and Dad was able to land it. It must have been eight pounds.

I was envious but that didn't last long for in a short while, I too, had a large carp on. The monster pulled so hard I thought it was going to get away. I was frantic, I wanted that fish so badly. Fortunately, with some help from Dad, I was able to turn it and pull it close to the bank. Dad waded in to about knee depth and managed to land the fish just as my pole broke.

I believe I was four or five when that glorious day occurred. From that day forward I wanted to fish every moment. I was constantly pestering Dad to take me fishing. He complied many times. Most of the time the fishing trips were just a hike to the Grand River, but other times we would drive to a nearby lake to fish for bluegills, sunfish, rock bass, and perch.

Actually, Dad was after bass, but he could only pursue them for a brief period before my whining forced him to find a spot where I could use my cane pole to catch pan fish. I know now that must have been a tremendous sacrifice, for Dad loved to fish for bass more than any other fish. To quit casting to pockets in the lily pads at first light when the bass were on the feed was something most men would not have done no matter how much they cared for their children.

As time went on, Dad gave me a casting rod—a steel rod with a Shakespeare Wonder Reel. The rod had about as much action as a ten-weight fly rod, but I didn't know it at the time.

I learned to cast, well sort of. It seems if I wasn't excited (seldom happened), I could cast a plug twenty or thirty feet. If I was excited, I would end up taking my thumb off the spool and a huge backlash would elapse. I would try to get it out but the Gordian knot was too much for me and I would revert to whining again. Dad would put down his rod and carefully pick and pull and would soon have the backlash untangled. He would then have a few minutes of peace and fishing while I gleefully tried to catch a bass.

The casting rod allowed me to catch a few bass, but most importantly, it brought real monster fish my way. Though the Grand River was full of carp, it had some northern pike in it. Dad and my uncles used to tell fishing tales whenever the family gathered for a holiday or birthday. My Uncle Chuck used to talk of a pike that had straightened the hooks on his Flatfish. Dad mentioned the musky that took his Bassarino in the Thornapple River and had straightened the hooks on the strike.

Can you imagine the awe and the desire that was in me to emulate these men? I, too, wanted to hook a big toothy critter like a northern pike, like the salted heads that Dad had tacked up to boards in the basement.

I had two lures to use on northerns: red and white Daredevils and a Johnson Silver Minnow with pork rind. Oh yes, there was a steel leader on the casting line to prevent the pike from chewing through the line.

The first keeper northern pike I ever caught (above 20 inches) took a Johnson Silver Minnow as the lure passed a brush pile. The fish just bolted out, grabbed the lure, and headed back to the brush.

I clamped down on the reel and held on for dear life. Amazingly the line didn't break and I was able to slide the fish onto the bank. I believe it was 25 inches long. I had arrived; I was a real fisherman just like my Dad.

Well, there have been many more moments when I caught a big fish and most of the time I knew Dad would be proud of my fish and me even though he wasn't there. I know also he would have encouraged me to put it back.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know my Dad was special. He encouraged me to fish and to be his fishing buddy. From that first fishing trip at age four or five until I left for graduate school in Wyoming, my Dad and I fished together. I can count on one hand the number of times in 17 years he left me behind. Thanks for taking me fishing, Dad. Happy Birthday. ~ Bob


About Bob

Bob Krumm is a first-class guide who specializes on fishing the Big Horn River in Montana, (and if there terrific fishing somewhere else he'll know about that too.) Bob has written several other fine articles for the Eye Of The Guides series. He is also a commericial fly tier who owns the Blue Quill Fly Company which will even do your custom tying! You can reach him at: 1-307-673-1505 or by email at: rkrumm@fiberpipe.net


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