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Father's Day Guest Blog: Searching for the Silver Lining of Lockdown


 BY CHRIS INGRAM ( @chris_ingram802)

 

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

Whether you are currently a fly fishing fanatic, a warm-water weekend warrior, or a once-in-a-great-while worm-dunker, your first fishing outing and favorite fishing memory were most likely spent with a parent. And if you’re like me, you don’t remember the largest fish or those full-creel days, you simply savor the memories of the quality times spent together. After all, it is never about who catches the biggest fish, or the most fish, it is always about who has the most fun that is the real winner.

If you’ve continued to pursue this passion for tight lines and fishy encounters, you’ve probably come to realize that it may not even be about the fish that we’re after. There’s just something special about being on the water, escaping from the craziness and chaos of life, and making a little time to unwind as a family. This sentiment could not be more true than it has been during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s understandable that COVID-19 has not been kind to everyone and none of this is meant to negate the real hardships and misfortunes it has brought to some. I for one, and many others I know, have made the most of these challenging and unprecedented times and sought refuge through fishing. With things starting to return to a resemblance of normalcy, try to make time with your dads, moms, sons, and daughters this Father’s Day to revisit and relive some of your best fishing memories—and make some new ones in the process.

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

Catching Up During COVID-19

John Nuceder and his son Luke, of Salisbury, Vermont, have certainly made the best of COVID-times. Prior to the pandemic, life was busy for this family of four with both parents working and two young boys in school and sports. Fly fishing was already something that was an important activity for these two, but little did they know how much more time they would soon have for swinging bugs side by side. Things changed when the lockdown hit, and they made some incredible adaptations. 

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

Once Luke’s school schedule settled out, he was given off each Wednesday. Recognizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend more time with Luke—the likes of which they may never see again—John found flexibility from his employer to work some weekends and use up some vacation time to have each Wednesday off with his son. 

Since the latest school session commenced, the two have been making new outdoor adventures together every Wednesday. They spent the winter on the ice heaving brute bronze backs and smashing smelt and early spring in the turkey blind catching up on life and being humbled by a few wise long-beards. They started their trout fishing season at a local fly fishing tournament they’ve been attending for years, and are now visiting the local lakes and creeks chasing trout, bass, panfish, and anything else that will bite.

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

For these two, parts of the pandemic have been blessings in disguise. “This time is irreplaceable,” said John, “and it’s allowed me to refocus my attention on being a dad.” “I thought about what I could do to provide more for my kids, and it’s come down to making more time with them. We’re able to capture these moments together and we’ll be able to look back on them forever.” 

Luke expressed deep gratitude for being able to spend this extra time with his dad given his busy teenage lifestyle of friends, school, and sports. “I love being able to get out and fish two or three days a week now, and I’m so lucky to have these resources.” Luke encourages young people and their fathers to get out together and fish any chance they get.  “Make the time you can make worth it — and just enjoy it!”

 

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

 

Of Parents and Mentorship

While those of us who can still go fishing with our parents are the lucky ones, a positive paternal presence takes on many additional forms. We can equally enjoy spending time and learning life lessons from other members of our families such as our grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and cousins. And beyond family, a good mentor can also be someone like a coach, teacher, a close family friend, or even someone from our community. 

John is also a high school football coach of over 20 years and now coaches high school and youth lacrosse. He believes in the importance of positive role models young adults during their formative years. “I had a great dad and a lot of opportunities but also had some coaches that made an impact on me. You don’t have to be a formal parent or a coach to make a difference. Some kids come from split families or have a parent who travels for work, and while we’re not meant to replace their parents, a mentor can make a real difference for our kids. It can be very rewarding and gratifying to have a young person say thank you and know you’ve made a connection.” When asked how a would-be mentor can get involved in supporting our youth, John urged, “open yourself up to provide an opportunity.  It doesn’t even have to be organized. If you see someone on the river that needs some help, talk to them. Everyone has something to share.” 

 

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)

If you’re looking for a new way to make a big difference in a young person’s life, consider volunteering for a local youth group, state wildlife agency mentorship program, Trout Unlimited, a local anglers association, or other angling-based conservation organization.

Time is fleeting and our kids grow up so fast. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to get out together on the water.  As John thoughtfully reminded us, the real reason why we do what we do for our kids is for pure enjoyment.  “You don’t have to be good at something to have fun. It’s about getting our kids interested. We learn together and challenge each other.” 

Just remember that you don’t have to be a superhero to earn your "World’s Best Dad" title. It’s going to be the simple little things that mean the most to your sons and daughters and the time you made for them. We hope everyone has a happy, safe, and enjoyable Father’s Day—and many fish on the end of your lines!

Photo: Chris Ingram (@chris.ingram802)