One of the best stories I can remember is fishing with my dad. He is a military man who was always deployed overseas, but when he was home he always found time to take us fishing. This is when I first found a love for the outdoors.

My dad spent countless years in the military providing for our family. As anyone who grew up in a military family can tell you, he really did not have a lot of time to spend with us. I can tell you one thing though he always found time to take us fishing.

After a long deployment, my dad finally came home with something new. Which all of us were curious to find out exactly what this new thing was. Well, come to find out my mom and dad had been saving up enough money to get a small bass tracker, my dad was so excited to show my brother and I what he had bought for the family. It was great to see my dad smiling the way he was. The enthusiasm he had when he was showing us the Boat was second to none. Well, after showing us the boat, all my dad could think about at this point was taking us out for the first time on a boat. The bass tracker was about 14 foot long and had a Merc 9.9 hp motor on it. Nothing to brag about but as a little youngster that has never been on a boat before, what an experience that was.

I was scared from the start! the boat rocked so much with every movement, I kept saying to myself “we are going to tip the boat and I’m going to fall in the lake”. As I think about it today that’s not a big deal, but have you know it my kids today feel the same way about being in my boat, all I can do is laugh now and tell my kids I felt the same way when I was young.

The time comes for my dad to start the motor for the first time, and man that was exciting! Nothing like smelling two stroke exhaust first thing on a foggy morning. I will always remember that smell for the rest of my life, and every time I smell two strokes it brings back memories like the one I’m writing about.

My dad asked my brother and me to take the lines off the cleats and then we were off, but there was one minor problem why is there so much water on the boat? All I could think about now was sinking and having to swim to the shore. My dad told us not to worry about it everything will be fine and we motored back to the docks. Well, come to find out my dad forgot to put the drain plug in. So he jumps in the water and puts the plug in the boat, and asks us to turn on the bilge pump. I can see a stream of water pumping out of the ports. Man, “what a relief” I mumbled under my breath and of course, while all this is happening my brother is dying laughing because I’m freaking out and my dad is yelling about everything that’s going wrong. What a start to my first time on a boat…

Now that everything was fixed we took off again, knowing we have never navigated these waters before and GPS technology was not being used at this time, my dad was like you boys remember how to get back to the boat ramp ok? My brother and I were like you remember this half of the trip and I will remember from this point, that way it was easier to remember. Well, that did not work out as we planned. We get to a nice tree that had fallen into the lake and my dad said to us this looks like a great spot to fish and man was he right. We were catching blue gills, bass and crappie left and right. That day we filled the live well and had enough fish to last us a month. Well, it started getting darker and it was time to start heading back. But we had a problem. We could not remember how to get back because we forgot! All we could think about was the fish that we caught today and how much fun it was.

Our journey back to the boat ramp has started; we were zig zagging all over the lake trying to figure out how to get back. My dad, being in the navy his entire career said don’t worry boys, I’ll get us back! After circling the entire lake we made it back, and boy was I happy. That night after cleaning the fish, my mom made the best-fried fish dinner ever. What made the dinner so good was the fact that we caught the fish ourselves and my mom cooked it for us.

Tom's Fish

Its memories like this that keeps me in the outdoors. To this day I’m always out on the water either by myself or taking my kids and wife fishing. But the most important thing I got out of this experience was being able to teach my kids how to fish like my dad taught us. He also taught us no matter how many things can go wrong, just take a second and laugh for a minute, don’t let it get to you, in the end, everything will work out. I do hope you guys and gals enjoy the time you have with your family! God knows we all need to make as many memories as possible with our family, which will last a lifetime.

Respectfully,

Thomas Caltagirone