This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Many people have great stories about fishing with their dads, but you will notice while reading stories submitted by readers that their memories are not always about "limiting out" or catching a new record fish.
People change when they are fishing. Away from the distractions of everyday life, children see their dads in a different light. It is often that transformation which makes the fishing so memorable, and so important in a person's life.
Here's a collection of readers' memories:
What girls should do
It was fall of 2007 and my dad and I decided to go fishing, so the night before we packed up our fishing gear and got ready to go. Morning finally came and we're off! To get to Lake Blanche we had to hike up a few very steep miles. When we arrived at the lake we ate the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we had packed and began to fish. We planned to bring the fish that we caught home to my mom and brother to eat for dinner. It wasn't long before we caught many fish! When we thought we had caught enough fish, we put them in bags of ice to keep them fresh and hiked down the mountain. When we got home my dad skinned the fillet off of the fish and cooked it on the grill. That night, I think we had one of the BEST home-made meals ever! Even though it was a year and a half ago, I still remember it crystal-clear. Overall, my dad and I had a great time. From building a strong relationship to just getting away from regular city life, I think every girl should go fishing with her father.
--- Allison Mervin, 12, Cottonwood Heights
A dad's dream come true
My husband is an avid fly fisherman. When we had our children, it didn't matter if they were boys or girls -- they just had to love fishing in the same way he does. Every year, since the birth of our children, he has taken them to the rivers. At first, they rode in the backpack carrier and then holding onto his hand as they strolled the banks looking for the fish to rise. Our girls, now six and three, adore their daddy and will go fishing with him no matter the weather. Their trips are filled with memories of the special snacks they get when fishing, the bugs they are able to collect, and the fish tales of how they caught the biggest fish! Of course, daddy doesn't care if they get all muddy or touch the fishy eyeballs or other "gross" things their mommy worries too much about. I believe my husband's dream of having children who love fishing as much as he does has come true. Whether they are gearing up to fish the rivers, a lake, or ice fishing in the winter, the girls excitement is difficult to contain. Fishing has always been a time for dad to gather his thoughts and "just be." Now, dad is enjoying his favorite pastime with two of his favorite people in the world. With every fishing trip, he is solidifying his status to his daughters of being their hero. This is one daddy that is truly loved.
-- Natalie Kelker, Salt Lake City
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a...fish!
My favorite memory of fishing with my dad would have to be in the fall of 1996 (just a few months before he passed away at the early age of 59). We were at Garkane Reservoir on Boulder Mountain. My dad's favorite fishing companion, at that time, was his springer spaniel, Penny. Penny loved to fish and would spend hours swimming in the lake and stealing fish from other fishermen's stringers! To keep her from doing this he would always give her the first catch of the day. He would throw it back in and Penny would retrieve it for hours. On this particular day, Penny waited patiently for her fish. After awhile she began to bark and stare at the sky. We couldn't figure out what she was doing until my dad started laughing and pointed to a fish rising straight up and out of the water. He had apparently cast over a power line and when he was reeling in Penny's fish the line was pulling it straight up toward the sky. It was a memory my husband, children and I will always remember. I always felt picked on, as a child, that we never went on vacations like Disneyland or Hawaii. We just went camping and fishing! At the time I didn't understand just how much I would miss time with my dad and would be willing to trade a vacation anywhere in the world for one hour, sitting on a bank, fishing with my dad.
-- Stacey Staley, Taylorsville
Water under a bridge
My dad is a fly fisherman. It's what he does, and everybody that knows him knows it. For an avid outdoorsman, one might feel sympathetic that he had four girls before getting his boys. But you shouldn't because, guess what? His girls can fish, too. And we still do. It probably has something to do with the fact that every family vacation we have ever been on revolves around the sport. We really wouldn't have it any other way. There's something magical about fishing with dad. You never worry about whether he really got over those phone calls from school when you were caught sluffing, or upset neighbors complaining about mysterious fry sauce balloon attacks. When you're on the river, it's all nothing more than water under the bridge. When we're fishing, we're friends. As I've gotten older, I've realized that these moments are precious. The talks about life, conversations on the drive to the 'secret spot' only to find that old "what's his name" must have spilled the beans because there was nowhere to fish amongst the crowd. The moment of silence that begins when we park and step out of the car, each of us too focused on trying to get our fly tied on first. There's nothing better than fishing with dad, so I thought. Now that I have my own girls and have had the opportunity to watch dad, grandpa, fishing with the kids, grandsons and granddaughters alike, I know there's definitely nothing quite like that.
-- Amber Flannery Seely, Centerville
A dad, a daughter, a bouncing river
One of my fondest early childhood memories is of me tagging behind my dad down the dirt lane to the river. Me, carrying the bait can, him, hip boots turned down, fishing pole and basket in hand.
When we arrived at the river bank, he would sling me under one arm and carry me through the deep current to the shallow riffles in the middle. When the water was low, I could make castles on the sand bar or turn over the smooth rocks to catch "rock rollers" while he fished. He knew exactly when to jerk the line as a fish nibbled around the bait. He would let me reel the fish onto the bank, although he often lost the catch, thanks to me. He just laughed as the fish flopped away. No big deal.
He would always stuff a goodie in his pocket and a canteen on his belt so we could meander the river for hours at a time. We often wandered home after sunset, leaving mom with supper cold on the table.
These were the times I felt so close to my dad, just he and I and the river bouncing over the rocks. He was a fine sportsman and a wonderful, patient dad who instilled in me a love of nature and an appreciation of the simple things in life. How fortunate I was to share with him such happy, carefree days of a beautiful childhood.
-- Peg Sabey, Heber City
Memories of a river
A favorite memory of fishing with my dad, Hal Harmon, is of an afternoon we spent on a beautiful stretch of the Green River near Daniel, Wyo., in the late 1950s, when I was about 10 years old. I was fishing a night crawler through a deep pool under the highway bridge while my dad headed upstream with his fly rod. A fish nibbled on the worm on almost every drift, but I failed to catch a single trout after an hour of fishing. Frustrated with my lack of success, I trekked upstream to see how Dad was doing with his flies. When I caught up with him on a wide bend in the river, he was casting across a gentle riffle beyond which several fish were feeding near the surface along the far bank. I twas truly an enchanting moment for a young boy to see his father skillfully cast a bamboo rod, watch the white-winged royal coachman fly float upright in the current and witness the slashing strike of a hefty rainbow trout under a blue Wyoming sky in the shadow of the Wind River Range.
My dad and I have shared many fishing trips on famous rivers and little known streams over the years. We have enjoyed camp fires, dutch oven cooking and precious time with family and friends in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. I am thankful for all of our excursions and for that splendid day long ago on the Green River, for it still lives and always will.
-- Steve Harmon, Salt Lake City
Pranked by a fish
My folks were visiting from Atlanta after my dad had successfully recovered from colon cancer. My husband, Mike, and I took them to Lake Powell.
My dad, Harry, is a combination of the two men portrayed by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the movie "Grumpy Old Men." He is the consummate fisherman, fishing along the banks of the Wisconsin River since the age of five.
Anchored off, my mom and I were enjoying the hypnotizing lazy sway of the boat. My dad was, of course, fishing. Mike, who would prefer fishing with a hand grenade, had replaced his pole for a pair of goggles and fins.
While snorkeling, Mike spotted the remains of a 21-inch rotted carp, (Pleistocene era). Stealthily, Mike added his contribution to the stringer strung over the side of the boat. Mike came back on board and said "Harry, you sure have five nice fish on that stringer."
"Four fish," my dad replied.
"Un huh, you've caught five," was Mike's response.
Knowing exactly how many fish he had caught, my dad pulled up the stringer to prove that he had caught four fish. Seeing the new addition he let out a yelp and threw the stringer back over the boat. "I told you there were five fish," Mike smugly commented.
"I thought it was a [#%*!] monster," was my dad's chagrined reply when asked his first thought upon seeing the rotted carcass. We eventually came home with a cooler of fish, minus the "monster."
-- Tracy Christensen
Torture, fondly remembered
Idaho. Land of the potato, Henry's Fork of the Snake River and the annual fishing trip. I was always a tomboy, but getting up at four o'clock in the morning to load worms and bologna sandwiches into a tiny boat to spend the next eight hours sitting in ankle deep water and climbing onto a muddy sandbar to find a shrub to use as an outhouse is not the dream vacation for a 7-year-old girl.
Now I have photo albums to remember when dad searched for that perfect fly fishing spot and went completely under water, breaking his leg in the process. The time he had to get the hook out of my neck after my brother caught me rather than the fish and the times I checked the fish's mouth for cavities. Sitting completely still while a mother moose and her calf walked across the river in front of us, or my father sitting in his goofy lucky fishing hat with zinc oxide on his nose while he would bait my hook and then have to turn around and take off the fish I'd caught before he had a chance to even get one cast off, are ingrained in my mind.
All these things are happy memories. Summers spent with my dad. I don't get much of a chance to fish with dad anymore. Now we go out in our fully equipped motor homes and watch other fathers and daughters torture each other.
-- Michelle Thompson, West Jordan
Sixty-two years ago, when I was 5-years-old, Dad took me on my first fishing outing on Grand Lake in northeastern Oklahoma. He steered the boat to a little cove and anchored it where we could see some brush under the water -- a good place to find fish, he said. He baited my hook with a little minnow, handed me the pole and told me to keep my eye on the little red and white cork floating in the water. In just a matter of minutes, my cork started to bob up and down and then disappeared under the water. "Pull it up, quick!" Dad cried. I yanked my pole up so fast the line flew clear over my head, and to my astonishment, I had caught a little fish about five inches long. "By golly, you caught a whopper!" Dad cried, grabbing my line. "That is a mighty fine specimen!" He took the little fish off the hook, threw it back in the water and eagerly baited my hook with another minnow. "Let's see if you can do that again!" I didn't have to wait long before I hauled in a similar catch, then another and another and another. Each time Dad praised my accomplishment, threw the child-fish overboard and baited my hook again. "I think you found the nursery!" he said with such pride that I marveled at my newfound skill. Dad sacrificed 35 minnows that day just so I would have a good time.
-- Kate Price, Salt Lake City
"That's not a snag!"
I was fishing with my dad at Joes Valley Reservoir, on May 16. We had been catching lots of smaller fish all morning and having lots of fun. About noon, I was reeling in my line and my line hung up and I told my dad I had a snag. My dad walked over and as I was pulling back on my pole trying to get the snag out, my line took off to the side and started flying off my reel. My dad said "Thats not a snag, that's a big fish." I started backing up on the bank and my dad said "keep reeling, keep reeling," but my line was going out faster then it was coming in. After a while, the fish finally started to come in a little and then we saw it. Holy cow, it looked huge in the water and my brother yelled "It's a monster," which made me even more tense. Finally, it got closer to the bank but I couldn't lift it out of the water and it kept swimming off. My dad told my brother to get in the water and when the fish gets close, get behind it and throw it out on the bank. After a couple of tries he finally succeeded and the fish came flying out on the bank. Then we were all jumping up and down because the fish looked even bigger on the bank. It was definitely my best day fishing with my dad.
-- Priscilla Sharp, 11, Castle Dale
Being with dad
When I was a little girl I did NOT like fishing, but my dad did. I would do anything to spend precious time with him though, so at the immediate mention by my dad of fishing I would act really excited and even go to bed early because we had to do something else I despised doing (waking up at 3 or 4 a.m.!) One morning, dad, my sister and I woke up early and drove to the lake where we rented a little tin boat. The weather was scorching and being in a metal boat didn't help. Hours and hours had passed and after no luck of the three of us even getting a bite, then I did! I was so nervous I screeched and half way handed dad the pole for help in reeling in what turned out to be a small trout. This gave dad confidence and we continued to fish. After a few more hours of fishing, and my loss of interest in fishing and my gain of interest in my fish that was tied up and straggling behind our boat, dad couldn't bring himself to bring the fish home. I had named my fish "Slimer" and frequently petted it.
-- Destiny Payne White, Taylorsville
From my earliest memories, fishing with my Dad had always been the highlight of the year. From the time he fist showed me how to bait the hook to reeling it in and then the always exciting experience of cleaning them. of course his teaching wouldn't be complete until he had me master the art of not falling in or trying to cross a river only to float down the river and be saved by him.
I mention these because they all seemed to fit into one special fishing trip.
Way back when there was an official fishing opening day, a day that my Dad, brother and all my uncles and male cousins (the opening of fishing and deer hunting was the only time that the guys got to go on without the women...oh those were the days!) got together. We had an old yellow International pickup that we used to pull our new travel trailer; course it didn't have enough power to get us and the trailer up the steep dirt roads; but it was better than an old tent that my Dad had.
On the morning of the opening, we were at our favorite lake, set up and ready before the sun come up. Dad was going over how to bait the hook one last time and giving me pointers on how to cast it out there far enough to catch the BIG ONES. Course being as young as I was, I couldn't get it out two or three feet, so of course Dad had to help. His instructions were " let him bite on it a couple of times and then jerk the pole as hard as you can" Sure enough when I got that first bite, I jerked the pole so hard I lost my balance and fell into the water. Never could understand why my Dad laughed so hard at me, I was wet and the fish got away! So he helped me again to get the hook out into the water with a different set of instructions this time. This time I was to just jerk the pole and instead of trying to reel in the fish, I was just to start running up the side of the bank. Sure enough the next time I got a bite, I jerked the pole and just started to run up the bank. Dad never did tell me how far I had to run, so in between gasps of air from laughing so hard, he had to catch me and tell me to stop! He never did let me forget that first fishing trip and it's one I will always remember.
-- Steve K. Brinkerhoff, Ogden
Scouting for fish
One spring day in 1983, 5-year-old Jason and his dad went fishing on the Weber River. After about an hour of not having a single bite, Jason grew impatient, even doubting if there were any fish in the river. His dad, hoping to satisfy his young angler and attract the fish, stepped out on a rock in the middle of the river to cast out and "find the fish." But he accidently slipped off the rock, falling head first and completely submerging himself in the water! Dad came up soaking wet from head to toe, briskly shaking off the freezing water and gasping for air. Jason calmly looked at his dad and asked, "Did you see any fish while you were under there?"
-- Mike and Mike Coulam, Sandy
My first fishing trip occurred when I was three years old. It was a big production. My Dad thought of everything. He packed my new yellow Tweety Bird fishing pole, a little chair, goldfish crackers, my sippy cup, and my mommy. Just in case.
He put me in my car seat and we drove to Trial Lake. During the car ride, my Dad said, "After we're done fishing, we can get ice cream." That was enough for me.
Once we had arrived, my Dad set up his big chair, my little chair, his big fishing pole, my little fishing pole, and our assorted snacks and beverages. He taught me how to cast my line, cast his line and then we sat down to wait. On my first cast, I caught a fish, and then I lost interest.
I said, and I quote, "Can we get ice cream now?"
"No," he said. "We have to wait. C'mon, fishing is fun."
So, I waited. Every five minutes I repeated, "Is it time to get ice cream now?"
After we had been fishing for about a half an hour (and I didn't stop pestering him for that entire time), we packed up and left. My dad didn't have time to catch a fish that day, but you can bet that I got my ice cream.
I am so excited because this summer I might go fishing with my dad and Papa, which is fortuitous because Papa loves ice cream too.
-- Alessandra Miranda, 11, Sandy
Passing on a passion
When we're ready to go fishing with our dad, he says, "I can feel that big fish around my hands!" He wants to catch that huge, humongo fish so bad! We love to go fishing at Flaming Gorge. It's so beautiful with the red rocks and it's just perfect. There are so many places to jump off and swim and we can camp out and stay. Fishing with our dad is great because he's funny and he knows what he's doing. He is the fish expert of all fishermen. We have a good time and he makes me laugh. He's so happy up there. It's fun to be around him when he's so happy like that. I like it when we can be with each other and talk and have some time with him. And when I catch a fish it's like oh! Victory! Because after you've been pulling it in you're excited to see what kind it is. It's amazing. It feels like you won something! When I grow up, I will definitely take my kids fishing -- for sure! We love you, dad!
-- Kathryn and William Floor, Salt Lake City
The Echo Monster
My 76-year old father, Walter Root, spent much time taking my brother Chris and I fishing throughout our young lives. The many experiences (good, bad, ugly, humurous, etc.) made such an impression on me that I grew to love fishing and the outdoors. In fact, I chose a career with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (approximately 20 years now) because dad introduced me to the adventurous outdoors. Though I have many memories of our fishing adventures, one stands out in my mind.
Around 1973, I was a 10-year old boy and my father took my older brother and I fishing to Echo Reservoir. Both he and my brother Chris took the "car-topper" aluminum boat out on the reservoir while I stayed on the beach and fished from the shore. After about 30 minutes, I was walking around the shoreline and looked at my pole in time to see it jerking. I raced to my pole, but not quickly enough. In shock, I watched as my pole was dragged out to the depths of Echo Reservoir. Yes, I was sure it was taken by the largest trout in Utah's history or by the unknown "Echo Monster." After screaming, and waving my arms for some time, my father eventually got the boat to shore and I explained what had just happened (I am sure with tear-filled eyes).
Bless my dad's heart, he just happened to have some swim trunks in his car and he went swimming in the cold, murky water in search of the Echo Monster that was attached to my pole. After many attempts, he stated "I will try one more time." By this time he was quite a ways out from shoreline, he dove down and miraculously felt part of the pole with his big toe along the bottom caught in some vegetation. He eventually brought the pole in to the elated young Scott in anticipation of the big prize. I successfully fought the beast for some time before eventually dragging in an enormous "bugle-mouth bass" -- also known as the common carp. It was truly the best of times and yet the worst of times. Thanks anyway, dad!
-- Scott Root, Springville
I'll catch, you clean
Dad grew up fishing in Utah. He tromped the streams looking forward to catching the "big one." Even after we moved to southern California we would come back every summer to visit relatives -- at least that's what we kids were told, but I suspect that it was really so that Dad could head up to Hobble Creek for some quality fishing again. So all five kids would be loaded into our orange van -- The Pumpkin --and off we'd go. I was the oldest -- a true blue tomboy -- and always wanted to go fishing with Dad. "Here's the deal," he's say, "you clean any fish we catch and you can come along."
"It's a deal!" Then we were off! Dad showed me how to crouch behind a bush and let the current take my line down to the little eddy, just under the overgrowth of trees. That's where the big ones hide. "If you can see the fish then they can see you!" he'd say. He showed me how to find rock rollers for bait, and grasshoppers and night crawlers. We caught browns and cutthroats and rainbows. We let the little ones go and took the big ones home. True to my word, I cleaned them and slid them onto a stick while Dad made a few willow whistles to take to the other kids.
I learned a lot on those outings, but not all of it was about fishing. I learned patience and that I had to keep going even if I was tired. I learned that it was important to keep my word. I learned that fish don't smell very good. But most of all, I learned that my dad was a giant of a man -- even if he only stood five foot seven!
-- Melody Newman Gonzales, West Jordan
The end of December my Dad had been sick for a long time and I got the call that he didn't have much time left. So I left Utah on Dec. 30 and flew to Orlando. I met up with a sister and our brother and we went to say our goodbyes to our father in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. All the family was there and we had two days to be with him. He couldn't talk much but he was able to say "Night Night" to me and his wife .
We then went back to Orlando to spend time with each other. We got the phone call early Jan. 4 2009 that he had passed on. My Dad donated his body to science and did not want a service. So the three of us and my brothers girlfriend decided to go on with our plans to go to the ocean and fish. It was so beautiful and we all felt like Dad was there with us and was pleased that we were together celebrating his life.
My brother caught the first fish and I caught the next four (an all time record). As we were leaving my brother told me that I had been fishing with my Dads fishing pole that had been given to my brother earlier that year. My Dad wanted to take me fishing but it never worked out. I believe he was with us that day cheering me on.
Catch and release
I vividly remember when the practice of catch-and-release became a factor in our family fishing. Throughout the early years of my fishing career my father, brother and I would bonk every fish over the head and bring them home to dinner. The problem was we bought so many home it was impossible to eat them all and a lot of fish ended up in the freezer. Come February, we'd still have about 300 fish in the freezer from the prior fishing season
Dad and I were fishing the Weber River above Echo Reservoir in about 1955. I had returned to the car about twilight to find that dad had yet to return. I walked to the bridge to look for my father who often finished up fishing a long left sweeping pool down stream from the bridge, and there he was fighting a sizable fish.
"Go get the flashlight from the car," he said as the evening light was fading. I hurried to the car and returned with the light in a hurry. "Come down here with the light, son," he said, so a scrambled down the bank. The fish was too big to fit in his net, obviously a big spawner fresh out of the lake. While I held the light on the fish dad tailed it and pried the Mickey Finn from it's mouth.
"I reckon this Rainbow will run 8 to 10 pounds," he exclaimed, and moved the fish forward and back facing the current. "What the heck or you doing, dad?" I questioned as he continued maneuvering the fish. "Reviving him," he shouted back.
Then the fish surged and swam into the darkness of the current. "I'll catch you again next week," he called as the fish disappeared. To my knowledge he never did hook that fish again, since it was probably a moving fish on the spawn, he probably never would.
"That one was big enough to mount and hang on the wall," I lamented to him.
"I'll remember him well enough, right here in my head," my dad replied. "Besides, a fish of that strength and nobility deserves a chance to fight again."
That was it. We never again killed fish unless we planned to eat them with a couple of hours. Dad had already taught me that trout bigger that 12 to 14 inches didn't taste as good as smaller fish. "Once they start eating mice and other such critter it changes the flavor," he used to say.
-- Jan Peterson, Midway
He was here a second ago
I was four years old when we lived in Walla Walla, Wash., where my great grandfather lived. We called him Grandpa Bud. My dad wanted to take me and my great grandpa fishing out at the reservoir. Getting settled in, grandpa set up a stool for me to sit on at the water's edge and he handed me my pole. My dad and grandpa Bud then set about getting their own ready. Grandpa reached for the tackle box, pulled it toward him, opened it up and them my dad turned around and said "where's Ronny?" Grandpa had anchored my stool with the tackle box and absentmindedly forgot. I fell into the water. As I was popping back up I heard grandpa bud say "I dunno. He was here a second ago..."
-- Ronald Lehi Dieterich, Tooele