Fishing with my Dad

June 20, 2009 | 24 comments

I’ve heard it said that a child’s view of her Heavenly Father is shaped by the Dad she had on Earth.

Maybe that’s why I know that God loves me so much.

My dad was the biggest, strongest man I knew — and no matter what I believed about him (I was a teenager, after all), he never stopped believing in me.

I grew up with a Dad who was not stingy with his affection or his time. Growing up, Dad and I spent hours on the driveway basketball court playing HORSE, or tossing the Frisbee out back by the evergreens. He carried me to bed every night on his back, and woke me up singing “Wake Up Little Susie.”

But the best moments with my father happened while fishing. You can’t help but grow close in the confines of an 18-foot Lund fishing boat. That’s especially true if the catching is slow. Now, if you’re a fisherman, you know that fishing and catching are not the same thing. When you’re fishing, hours can go by without catching a thing. So, you pass the hours reconnecting in ways that you never could on land.

Sure — fishing folk love to talk about the weather, and the cloud cover, and the “chop”on the water. We analyze water depth, weed cover and “bait presentation.” But on swivel seats in an aluminum boat — three feet apart, and hundreds of feet from shore — you go deeper than tomorrow’s forecast. You talk about the stuff that really matters: growing up and growing old, and doing both with grace.

This weekend is Father’s Day. And I find myself in a little cabin tonight on the shore of a Minnesota fishing lake, where the loons’ haunting cry echoes outside my window. This is where my parents — now retired — spend their summer days.

At sunset tonight, I threw out cast after cast for bass at the end of the dock, while my dad sipped tea and watched me, his youngest daughter, give it a try. On shore, the next generation did the same thing: My youngest daughter fished for bluegill in the shallow water while her Daddy watched over.

None of us caught a thing.

Tomorrow morning, my Dad and I will get up early, load a Lund fishing boat with fishing poles and minnows, then drive the boat far away from shore, cutting a rippled “V” through the surface of a glassy lake before stopping somewhere on the other side.

Yep, I’m going fishing with my Dad. Whether we catch anything is secondary.

Photos: Dad and I at Christmas at home; Dad and I on a Minnesota fishing trip 36 years ago.

by | June 20, 2009 | 24 comments


  1. Sara

    What a heartwarming post, thank you for sharing! I love to fish, too…regardless of the outcome. Although that one big catch always keeps you coming back. Have a great weekend!

  2. travelmom

    Thanks so much for the post – some of my favorite memories with my dad are also when we fished together. I can still see him in a crazy hat patiently helping us fish. Celebrate this Father's day with your dad and relish it. This is my first fatherless father's day. I would give so much to have just one more Father's day with him. Thank you for the sweet reminder of something I had forgotten about.

  3. Denise

    I went fishing with my dad, once. At the end of the day, as we were packing everything up, he asked me to pull up the line that had our days catch of Lake Erie perch attached. Before he could say "slowly", I had yanked that line up and in the process snagged the rocks. All that was left on the line were the fish heads, the flesh was left amidst the rocks below. I think we ended up eating burgers that night. He never took me fishing after that but he loved me anyway! :O)

    Give your father an extra hug from those like me who can no longer hug the flesh and bones of daddy.


  4. Lindy

    Enjoy Minnesota and spending time with your dad!

  5. Jennifer

    Sara — Thank you, friend. And you're right, the Big Catch is always a memory-maker. Certainly better to come back with stories of a big one, rather than the "one that got away."

    Travelmom — My heart hurts to think of this being a fatherless Father's Day for you. I can't imagine the pain. I will do this: I'll appreciate this morning fishing with my Dad even more, remembering what you said. Thank you for sharing.

    Oh Denise — That is funny … and heartwarming. Sounds like the start of a fun blog post over at your place. Great story.

    And thank you, too, Lindy. I'm soaking up every minute. It's so beautiful here. (Your name, by the way, reminds me of the great fisherman Al Linder.) … 🙂

  6. Get Real Girl

    This post brought back a lot of memories for me. I loved fishing with my dad. I wish I was on the lake in Minnesota with my dad. I need to get home and spend some time with him. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Jennifer

    Such beautiful memories–treasure every fishing trip you can squeeze in while your dad is on this earth. Enjoy!

  8. ~Maria

    Thank you for the beautiful post…brought tears to my eyes as I have so many of the same memories with my dad. Thankfully he's still here and we're still fishing together when we get the chance.

  9. mom2six

    Touching post. I, along with others will celebrate Father's Day for the first time without our fathers. Had someone say recently that this will be their father's first Father's Day in the presence of The Father. I'm glad my dad is there as well, celebrating in God's presence. Sure do miss his presence here though. Thank you for sharing your memories!

  10. Colleen

    Beautiful post. Your dad sounds great! You are blessed to have such memories! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Deb

    So glad that you have a wonderful dad.

    Hope y'all catch some fish.

  12. RCUBEs

    Wonderful mem'ry between a great dad and his daughter! Happy Father's Day to your dad. God bless.

  13. Kee

    I'm so glad that you have had such a wonderful dad and he is still with you. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful relationship.

  14. isumom

    I never had the chance to fish with my dad, but I can attest to the joy of spending time with dad. I can also understand just how you feel about your dad…Phil is one awesome dude!

  15. bluecottonmemory

    Wow! You dad was a beautiful gift from God. My parents divorced and my dad never met my oldest son. He just wasn't interested. I gave my life to Jesus when I was is in the second grade, and held on tight to my heavenly Father's hand. My husband is an awesome gift from God! Your blog blessed me!

  16. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    Wow, what a lovely post for Father's Day, and yet I feel so foolish that my post is about 'The Post office at it's Best' How selfish of me to overlook this day and not take time to reflect on my own day, which tonight I now regret. Your story was very lovely, sweet and honorable. And oh, you look so adorable Jennifer in your little fishing gear/swim suit to do some fishing with dear old dad. It sounds like the two of you had a very close bond, which I agree, that a childs view of her Heavenly Father is shaped by the Dad she had/has as her earthly father. If heard this before and really believe its words. It makes a lot of sense when you know a friend or other who shares the kind of relationship they had with their own dad and how their relationship with Christ is. It all comes together. Thanks for sharing such a sweet and lovely post. You look like such a doll there Jennifer! How precious of the time alone with your dear old pops!


  17. Robin

    It is great you are still willing to go fishing with your dad…

  18. christy rose

    You did have a wonderful dad! What a blessing from God!

  19. lynnrush

    NICE!!! Heartwarming, indeed! Thanks.

  20. Chris Godfredsen

    So how was the fishing? I pray it was a great time for you both, regardless of the catch.

    My last fishing memory is of a night with my dad probably 25 years ago. I had landed a couple of nice northerns and had them on stringer. Somehow the fish got away and I don't know that I have fished sense!

    A great post by a genuine girl who loves her daddy!

  21. Chris Godfredsen

    So how was the fishing? I pray it was a great time for you both, regardless of the catch.

    My last fishing memory is of a night with my dad probably 25 years ago. I had landed a couple of nice northerns and had them on stringer. Somehow the fish got away and I don't know that I have fished sense!

    A great post by a genuine girl who loves her daddy!

  22. Stanley 'n Monica

    Thanks for sharing stories at Dordt’s Day of Encouragement last week about fishing with your father! Very inspiring!

    • dukeslee

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I really enjoyed my day at Dordt. And I’m glad to hear that my stories were a blessing to you.

      • Stanley 'n Monica

        Hi again… I just blogged about you sharing at DoE the difference between “fishing” and “catching.” Thank you for the inspiration!



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