Where has time gone?
It seems like only yesterday that my daughters were little, curly-haired girls enthusiastically sharing time with me in Canada.
Now, they’re all grown up, married and balancing time between successful careers and home life. But one thing hasn’t changed: They still love to fish with dad.
When I recently retired from The Kansas City Star, I set a goal of spending alone time with each of them, much the same as I did last summer with my son, Scott, when we traveled to Boston to see the Royals play the Red Sox.
The girls wanted father-daughter fishing trips.
I took Jenny to one of my favorite places in the world, Gaston’s Resort, on the White River in northern Arkansas. Known nationally for its trout fishing, the White is one of those places where the scenery is stunning, the fishing is always good, and the warmth of the resort always calls you back.
The cabins are set on a hill overlooking the river. The marina and a great restaurant, decorated with antique outboard motors and bicycles, are only steps away.
We fished with one of my favorite guides, Steve Lopez, that day, and we added more memories to our mental data base. Using drift rigs, we caught many rainbow trout and an occasional brown. But what was more memorable for me was the way Jenny reveled in the beauty of the White River, with its bald eagles soaring overhead and trout darting through the clear water at the advance of our johnboat.
I could see the stress of her photography business melt away as we fished together as we had many years ago in Canada.
The same was true with Becky, who I took on a guided trip with Clyde Holscher. She was in the midst of a busy stretch in her counseling practice and had to squeeze in a day that she could get away from the office. But from the start, I could tell that she was relaxed in the beauty of the outdoors.
We fished at Coffey County Lake in Kansas, where Holscher is the king when it comes to finding and catching smallmouth bass. And this day didn’t disappoint.
With the guide’s advice, Becky caught and released numerous smallmouth bass on Ned rigs cast to the riprap. She laughed and posed for photos with her catch, much the same as she had years ago.
Both girls and I still reminisce about the shore lunches, Native American guides we became friends with, taking pontoon planes into remote lakes, seeing bears on the resort grounds at night, and the big fish we reeled in during our annual trips to Canada.
We also talk about the big one that got away, the huge musky Becky hooked on a Zebco 33 reel. She got the monster of a fish to boatside, close enough for a gruff guide to get excited and for Jenny to clutch the side of the boat as if she had just seen Jaws.
The fish posed for us for a minute, then decided to resume its fight. It dashed under the boat and promptly snapped the line. But it was still good for a fish story for the ages.
We have, of course, fished many times since those days. But it is getting harder and harder to find time in their busy schedules to get away.
For a couple of golden days this fall, though, that changed. And I am eternally grateful for those experiences.