Fishing with dad means treasured memories

Donald and Kendra Mills fishing on Duarte's Pond. — File photo by Courtesy Kendra Mills

In anticipation of Father’s Day Sunday, I invited readers to send in photos and stories of fishing with their dads. The responses, lightly edited for punctuation and clarity, follow. I hope they will inspire children and dads to take a day and go fishing:

Our fishing tradition

Every Father’s Day since I can remember, we go fishing with my dad, Travis Thurber, and Uncle Ian Thurber. My favorite place to go is Ice House Pond.

Dad piles my brother and me into the canoe with our dogs, Salty and Pepper, and we head across the pond in search of fish, frogs, turtles, and salamanders. We always catch a bucket-load of creatures and have a lot of laughs, maybe even play a joke and tip over the canoe for a swim with the dogs.

I love my dad and am so glad he has taught me to fish and enjoy the great outdoors.

Brahmin Thurber-Carbone, age 11 (typed by me), and Cabot Thurber, age 8 1/2

Dad has patience

I think I was about three and a half years old when my dad, Donald Mills, started taking me fishing at Duarte’s Pond for the kids spring trout fishing derby or just for fun on the weekends. We would often meet friends, and it felt like we were there all day (Kyle Joba Woodruff, and Andrew Woodruff are in some of the photos I sent).

To my dad and Andrew’s credit, they could handle days where Kyle and I preferred to dig worms in the mud or look for frogs and turtles rather than actually fish. On the rare occasion I actually caught a fish, I would pat it and make my dad throw it back.

For my eighth birthday, I had a mini fishing derby at Duarte’s Pond. Luckily, it was 65 degrees in December, and my dad baited hooks for most of my friends and somehow managed to cook food on a barbecue.

I think my dad’s love of fishing started when he was little and a family friend would take him fishing at all hours of the day and night. Someday, I’m going to catch a fish and not make my poor father throw it back.

Kendra Mills, age 13, West Tisbury

Fishing vacations

As I write this, Paul and our two sons Nicholas and Cooper are at “striper camp,” a boys-only week of fishing in a rented house on Lobsterville Beach.

The Vineyard has been a special place for our family over the years. Our youngest is named after Paul’s good friend and fishing buddy, Cooper Gilkes. Fishing has played an important part in our lives, and Paul takes every opportunity possible to include his children in his fishing endeavors, whether it is on the Vineyard, the Cape, the Keys, or even Alaska.

A few words from Lizzie, our daughter, left at home this week for being a girl: “Our vacations always revolved around fishing; I loved going to the Vineyard.”

And from Nick on the Vineyard with his little brother: “We were born twelve years apart, one of Generation Y, the other of Generation Xbox. One starting high school, the other entrenched in Corporate America. But despite the gap in our age, we both can stand shoulder to shoulder with you, dad, and the three of us can all be kids again.

From a young age you put a rod in our hand, teaching us everything you know, passing along all the knowledge you have gained over the years and the enjoyment your Grandma Moon taught you when you were a little boy with a cane pole. We owe all our fishing knowledge to you…well most of it. We picked up a little on our own along the way. Thank you dad for teaching both of us to fish, as it will be something we share for the rest of our lives.”

Mimi Fersen of Dorset, Vermont

Cat Fishing

This happened in Oklahoma, where I grew up. My dad and grandfather took me to a fishing camp near a dam. We stayed in a rustic cabin and fished for channel catfish beneath the dam. It was a great place, with water spilling out over the dam and splashing about 50 feet from us. We were part of a large contingent, mostly standing knee-deep on flat rocks in the water.

The channel cats weren’t much larger than trout, and a bit friskier than their larger cousins. After I caught a few with hook and line on my new spinning rod, I slipped into mask and flippers and went beneath the surface. It was a wonderful world, and I could see the fish approach hooks and then miss them. I thought I could help my dad by using hand signals to tell him to cast nearer the big ones. Eventually, however, other fisherfolk complained to him that I was disturbing the fish and he had to tell me to get out. I was about 9 or 10 at the time.

Don Hinkle, of Oak Bluffs

Sic transit fishy gloria mundi

Last week, I wrote about the 19th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Striped Bass Catch and Release Tournament. I described the participation and the fishing. What I did not include was the complete results.

I explained that somehow we had lost the catch reports, upon which the awards were based in two of the three categories.

I am not sure what happened. I will not bore readers with the details of what may have happened or my efforts to retrieve the results.

In the aftermath, I admit I did not treat the loss as a big deal. I figured those that won a plaque knew who they were and that was good enough. I was wrong.

Charlie Finnerty called me. “Hey, what happened to the results?” he wanted to know. Charlie was not simply being public spirited. He and Mac Haskell had won the most fish one-fly division.

I suggested that he and Mac had acquired plenty of glory (and plaques) over the years. The next call was from John Dropick of Chappy, on behalf of his son, who had ditched dad’s team and gone on to fishing glory. John went one step better, he had the names of the winners in the “most fish category.”

I was wrong, no question. It is important. People like to see their accomplishments in the paper, and I should have remembered it. So here is what I know. If I missed you, post your name and comment.

First place tie, Roberto Germani award for the most fish caught and released: James Dropick of Edgartown, Mike Valenti of Edgartown (6 fish); Chuck Hodgkinson of West Tisbury, Dick Denzer of Westport Island, Maine (6 fish).

First place, Arnold Spofford award for the most fish using one fly: Charlie Finnerty of Chilmark, Mac Haskell of Aquinnah and Ponte Vedra, Florida (4 fish).

Sonny and Joey Beaulieu trophy for the largest fish caught and released: Andy Monte of Sutton (40 inches long, 19.5 inches around).