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Father’s Day 2014

Sunday is Father’s Day.  Many of you know that I lost my father less than a month ago.  If you continue to read this blog post, you will have to indulge me as I share some more memories and thoughts about my Dad.

Master Angler

At the end of our spring turkey season this year I shared a memory of Dad (Paradox).  I am pretty sure that Dad and I killed our first spring turkeys together on the same day years ago, mine in the morning, his in the afternoon.  As I recall, we also caught our first Master Angler fish together on the same day too–a couple of Merritt Reservoir smallmouth bass.

FirstMA

I love Master Angler awards.  I will always tell you that a trophy is what you make of it, so please do not think that you have to have Master Angler awards hanging on the wall to prove that you have caught trophy fish.  But, the awards have been a benchmark for big fish caught by my grandparents, my father, me, my kids.  Those are special fish and the cheap certificates represent memories of special fish caught with special people.  They do mean a lot to me.

I have the stack of Dad’s Nebraska Master Angler awards on my desk right now.  There are 15 of them.  The first is a 4-pound smallmouth bass caught from Merritt Reservoir on July 22, 1972.

DadMasterAngler

 Bobbers

I have written more than one blog post about fishing with bobbers, Kid’s System , Bobbers Ain’t Just for Kids .  Floats or bobbers are great fishing tools for a variety of fishing situations, but let me give you a little idea of some of the passion and depth behind those blog posts–there is a lot more there than just using bobbers to catch fish.

In the last month Dad was with us, a cousin and I were swapping fishing stories.  Andy remembered a trip with Dad just a year ago when Dad showed up with a bobber attached to his line, tossed it out in the current and began catching more fish than everyone else.  They were fishing for white bass and THE bait everyone else was using was a jig.  In the past few years, Dad was most likely to have a bobber attached to his line and he would use that to catch fish wherever he was, whatever he was fishing for.  We could talk him into employing some other bait or presentation if that was working best, but Dad would just as soon watch that bobber dance on the surface and then pop under.

Is not that the essence of fishing?  Did not we become “hooked” as kids by watching a bobber go under the water and wondering what huge creature might be on the end of the line?  That is the way most of us started fishing and at some point I wonder if Dad just felt some comfort, some satisfaction, some connection with his youth by going back to the beginning, to the purity and simplicity of  being a kid again and fishing a bobber with some kind of bait hanging under it?

Crappie&Walleye

Another trip, this one in late fall, when Dad’s insistence on using a bobber again resulted in a bunch of fish!

Kid Again

Along with the thought about returning to bobbers and earlier, simpler times, returning to our youth, I have to share this, I have to put it down in writing. . . .

I went with Dad and Mom to the cancer center before he began his last round of radiation treatments.  Mom and I waited for Dad as they took him back for another scan.  When they wheeled him back into the examining room, I will never forget Dad looking from his wheelchair up at me.  We did not say a word to each other, just looked at each other.  What struck me at that moment was his eyes.  I cannot explain it, cannot tell you what I saw, but as I looked into Dad’s eyes, I saw a little boy.  No, I did not see fear, questioning, inability, nor uncertainty.  I do not know what made me think that, but in that instant I had the feeling that I was looking into my Dad’s eyes and seeing a 5- or 6-year old boy.  The thought ran through my head that I was looking into the same eyes that my Grandma and Grandpa had looked into a long, long time ago.

After he passed we were looking through a bunch of old photo albums.  One of them had this picture taken when my Dad started to school.

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Those are the eyes I saw.

Dad and I did not say a lot to each other the last couple of weeks he was with us.  Dad could not say a lot; there were times when you could tell he wanted to say something, but he just could not.  I did speak to him some and other family members and I spent a lot of time in his presence talking.  I know he was listening and I know the conversations, and the laughing, were a comfort to him.  When I did speak to him, I did not expect him to speak back and most of the time he did not.  We just looked at each other.  He did not have to say anything more.

Hamming It Up

I show a lot of pictures here on my blog; many of them “hero shots” of me or my hunting and fishing partners, often my kids, with some fish we have caught or game we have taken.  Occasionally, I get tired of the same old poses and same old shots and “ham” it up for the photo.  It is supposed to be fun!

Again while looking through old photo albums, I found this picture of my Dad, Grandpa and one of grandpa’s brothers, Uncle Orville.

DSCN5713croppedThere they are, hamming it up for the camera!  It runs in the blood.  Look at those grins.  I can hear Grandpa and Uncle Orville laughing as soon as Grandma got done taking the photo.

I am told they used to load up the old farm trucks and drive to some sandhill lake to camp and fish.  They would stretch tarps across the bed and sides of the truck and sleep back there; that was their “camper” before they had campers.  That picture was taken on one of those trips.  Aunt Mabel had a standing order for them to bring bullheads back for her.  So, there they are, on that trip, on that day, and they probably fished hard and at the end of the day had a grand total of one, 1, O-N-E bullhead to show for it.  But Grandpa and Uncle Orville loved to have fun, and I know that no matter how many fish they caught, they had a great time.

I imagine Dad and Grandpa and Uncle Orville and my other granddad, Gramps Roth, are together recalling some of those old fishing trips and laughing about it.  I will bet I know who the biggest “hams” are!

A Phone Call

I talk to a lot of people about fish and fishing in Nebraska.  That is my job.  Some days I seem to get nothing done because the phone just keeps ringing.  When I go home after a day like that I have to remind myself that talking to folks on the phone really is my job, that I really did accomplish a lot by answering the phone all day!

There is one call that I got earlier this week that I have to tell you about.  It was a gentleman asking some questions about fishing a particular area, where they could fish, what they could fish for, and what he needed so he could get his dad a fishing permit and take him fishing for Father’s Day.  He told me his siblings had the usual ideas for Father’s Day gifts, take him out to eat, give him a gift card, ties, shirts, etc.  He said that he told them that he thought the perfect Father’s Day gift would be to take his dad fishing; his dad loved to fish and they had not done that together for a few years.

I ain’t making this story up, and I ain’t lying to you when I tell you my eyes teared up.

You know what I told that gentleman over the phone:

GO FISH!

I will always be a fisherman. . . 

It is not something I do, it is who I am. . .

Fishing is not an escape, it is where I belong, where I am supposed to be.

It is not a place, but a lifelong journey. . . 

It is a passage my father showed me, and that I will show to others.

When you understand all of this, you will know me, and we will fish together.

THE FISHERMAN’S AFFIRMATION–author unknown

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About Daryl Bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

9 comments

  1. Daryl,

    Well done sir. Someday, the same will be said for you.

    Dad’s always have that profound statement that you never forget, or some funny line. Is there one that you use?

    • Ray,

      I have been thinking about that over the past few weeks. I do not know that I could give you one wise statement or funny line from my Dad. As I have thought about it, I believe so much of what I learned from him was not so much from a lecture or from what he said, but from how he lived. “Talk is cheap”, “Just Do It”.

      At the same time, one thing that stuck out to us in the past few months was how thankful Dad was even in the middle of hospitals, treatments and obviously not feeling well. My sister wrote something on her FaceBook page about that, https://www.facebook.com/corinna.bauerbyler?hc_location=timeline

      Daryl B.

  2. Thank you Daryl….

  3. That’s my Daddy, and Uncle Ot, and Jerry!!! Daryl, Mom always said I went fishing even before I was born!! She put on a set of coveralls, rolled up the pant legs, threw the little cook stove in the back of the tarped pickup rack, threw the old mattresses in for us kids and mom to sleep on because Dad and Uncle Ot stayed up all night fishing. She packed the cold fried chicken and potato salad, along with her famous chocolate chip cookies and we headed for the lake, whichever the wind took us to!! Aunt Dorothy did the same and we shared all the food when we atel. Once in a while we’d fry up some fish, but you’re right, Aunt Mabel had to be considered too! You Grandpa would think up the funniest things to do, like putting bells on the end of the rod so if he and dad fell asleep and a big one came on it’d ring the bell and wake them up. I didn’t hear the bell, but I sure did hear those big ol’ hip waders running full speed to catch that big one! (You see they slept in their hip waders!)
    My heavens, Daryl, we have some delightful stories to share; we need to go fishing!! Thinking of you every day, and of your mom, too.
    BTW, I thought if I called you to ask about fishing, I’d be bothering you, but now I know different!!!
    It’s your job!!
    HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

  4. ‘Dad was most likely to have a bobber attached to his line and he would use that to catch fish wherever he was, whatever he was fishing for. ‘

    Ha! He is definitely my kind of fisherman!

    I taught my son several set-ups but he refuses to use them. He loves very simple set-ups. Last weekend, he told me that he catch more fish than I do because he believes my set-ups are ‘too complicated’ and fish cannot figure out how to bite on bait (yes he is 4 years old). Then, I realized the fact that my set-ups become more and more complicated. At the end, he caught not only more fish but bigger fish as well.

    Anyway, I have never met your father, but knowing who you are and what you do, I can tell how great father he was. Your father enrich quality of your life by showing you a fun of fishing/hunting, and then, you taught me the same … now that is going to my son. You are doing the same to numerous others. Considering this, your father positively influenced quality of life of people not only with in your family but many many others and still expanding. For this, yes I am sorry he had to go, but I rather say thanks for what he has accomplished.

  5. Great article Daryl. Many of my greatest times were/are spent in nature with family and friends. Happy Father’s day to all, make some memories!

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