Much More Than Fishing Going On
Learning to fish with Grandpa imparts lifelong lessons
By Lorry Myers
My father was a fisherman, which says a lot about who he was. Dad fished for the sport and fished for the fish and fished for his peace of mind. Mostly though, he fished because his father had fished with him. Dad wanted his six children to have memories like that. Through the years, Dad cast his line in rivers and ponds and springs, but his favorite fishing spot has always been Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. It’s the best place to teach a kid to fish.
The readers of USA Today’s 10Best chose Lake of the Ozarks as the “Best Recreational Lake” in the nation. Swimming, boating, camping and shopping, the Lake of the Ozarks has something for everyone. Miniature golf, go-carts and more than one water park, the lake makes you feel like every day is a vacation. But for my dad, it was the curve of the crannies and coves and the beauty of the bluffs and beaches that called to him. He loved the sound of the engines and the smell of the motors and the rock of the boat in the wake. He wanted his children to love it too.
Starting a new generation
Dad’s interest in fishing only increased when my son was born. The first fishing pole for his first grandchild was a Zebco Snoopy rod and reel. In the yard, Grandpa and Taylor practiced casting and reeling and then doing it again. One day Grandpa told Taylor the same thing he told me a long time ago, “A kid needs to learn things that can’t be taught in your backyard.”
Time to take this kid fishing.
That first fishing trip, my father and my son stood at the shoreline in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, talking and testing that Snoopy pole. Ahead of them was a juniper-colored lake that mirrored its surroundings—tall trees and rock cliffs—on its still surface.
After that, every weekend we could, we’d head to the Lake of the Ozarks with Dad pulling his old boat, the Snoopy pole riding inside. Taylor and his grandpa would get up in the early light and take off in that Jon Boat, chasing the fish and the sunrise. They’d battle with bass, catch catfish and capture crappie. At sunset, you would find the pair on the dock, Taylor clutching that red rod and reel, Dad sitting beside him holding tight to the back of his life jacket.
There was much more than fishing going on.
My growing family became regulars at the lake as more grandchildren joined our clan. When my father retired, the Lake of the Ozarks became his second home and a retreat for the rest of us. Taking the kids fishing was something that everyone involved looked forward to. At the lake, each child had a life jacket, a fishing pole and a little boat time with Grandpa. In the boat, Dad had a captive audience as he gave lessons about the waves and the wakes, the wind and the weather. These little fishermen quickly learned the difference between a crappie and a bass, a jig and a spinner and the right and wrong way to board a boat. A weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks with Grandpa meant fishing derbies and big fish tales and training on catch and release. At the lake, there were always wet towels on the deck and inner tubes on the dock and at night we had bonfires and ghost stories and sleeping bags under the stars. These are the days you just can’t get back.
Lessons for life
My father understood that the days of childhood are numbered and the best time to teach kids to fish is when they are kids. My son didn’t need an expensive fishing pole and Dad didn’t need a fancy boat or sonar finder or a gauge to determine the water depth. That little Jon boat trolled the secret fishing holes and hidden coves on the lake where the big boats just can’t go. When they were fishing, Dad was teaching Taylor to learn the landmarks and look for mile markers and know when it’s time to head home. He was teaching fishing lessons for the rest of his life.
When my father passed away last year, tucked away in a protective case, my grown son found that Snoopy rod and reel. Taylor smiled as he held the pole and remembered all those days, all those fish, all those memories he had of fishing with his grandfather at the Lake of the Ozarks. Those growing up years on the lake and that bonding time in the boat helped to shape who he grew up to be—a fisherman for life.
This year, our family will again meet at the Lake of the Ozarks and know the peace my father felt when the dock rocked beneath his feet. Riding in the trunk will be that old Snoopy fishing pole and buckled in the backseat will be my first grandson.
The next generation of fishing.
Discover more ways to fish with your family in Lake of the Ozarks.