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I’ve been fishing with my dad since I was a little girl. According to his recollection, I didn’t like it so much back then, and he’s partially right. The best parts of going fishing were playing “Name That Tune” in the car, eating good snacks like Summer Sausage and cheese with crackers, and spending time with my uncles and grandmother. I wasn’t a fan of fishing until I was an adult. 

Fishing has always been part of the Douglas family traditions. My father and his brothers went fishing with their dad when they were young and now with their mom in adulthood. Even their first cousins are fishing enthusiasts to this day. I grew up knowing how to put bait on a hook, even though I had a memorable incident where I got hooked (ouch). It only takes one time and you’ll remember it for the rest of your life. I learned the difference between a catfish, a croaker, and a drum. However, in my opinion, I didn’t really perfect casting my line until more recent years. I’m still not the best at it, but I’m comfortable with my skills. 

In the last few years, we (which includes my husband and all the kids) have created a new family tradition of taking my dad fishing for Father’s Day. The first year I believe we actually made it to the lake on Father’s Day weekend. All the other times, in typical Texas fashion, either rain/storm/hurricane and now pandemic has postponed our trips. But even in July, we still had the best and funniest time of all of our trips. 

Here’s a brief summary of the adventure: My stepmom still lets my dad cast her line. (It was pretty sweet.) Stinker somehow snapped the line on his cute Cars fishing rod and lost his fake fish in the water (twice). The Diva caught an attitude about using her old Frozen (aka baby) rod and reel, but she mostly sits with her sunglasses on and legs crossed eating cheese balls anyway. I brought not one but two coolers for all our snacks, including the family favorite Watermelon Salad. The Hubs, who claims he never catches anything, actually caught one of the smaller fish of the day. Stinker somehow wrapped his fishing line around a light pole, and my dad caught “The Big One”, my hat that flew off the Diva’s head.

Over the years, even more than the actual fishing, some of the best things that I caught were life lessons. This trip was no exception. I’m not sure if my Dad planned it this way, but he has been known to drop knowledge when you least expect it. The beauty is that my kids now get to experience all of these moments as well – the fishing life lessons. These lessons come early and often and are generally just a one-liner.

If you’re scared to walk the pier – walk faster.

Move past the fear because you have to do it anyway. (This was relayed through the Diva.)

The birds will steal your bait or your catch if you turn your back. 

Translation: Stay Woke.

Sometimes you feed the fish. Sometimes they feed you. 

Dad shared these words when any of us complained about losing their bait and in turn just “feeding the fish”.

Ain’t nothing to it but to do it.

Just go for it and get out there. There is no time but the present.

Good things come to those who wait.

The key to fishing is patience. Let the fish come to you.

What I appreciate the most is the joy that it brings to my father and to my kids. They wake up before the sun like it’s Christmas morning when it’s time to go fishing. And with this year’s added constraints of social distancing, we were all excited to spend more time together. Typically during the school year, my dad spends every Thursday with the kids. He would pick them up from three different schools (he’s the ultimate Baby Uber), take them to get “snacks”, and hang out for a couple of hours. It was their routine. Well as you all know, there was zero routine in this pandemic. We went from guaranteed time to drive-bys with masks on and waving from the car at an appropriate distance. 

So this fishing trip has more meaning and value to us all this year. Most importantly we figured out how to still stay connected, even during this uncertain time. Even though we all had on masks, and we couldn’t sit at the picnic table for lunch, we still have great memories. I hope one day my kids will recognize how lucky they are because these are the kind of memories (and the fishing lessons) that make it all worthwhile.

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