In honor of my dad, Bob “Ski” Olesky, with thanks for the many lessons I learned because he taught me to fish.
Dad taught me how to fish. I think we must have started the day after we came home from the Philippines because I don’t remember not fishing. He gave me a small pole, tied a heavy rubber plug that was easy to cast onto the line, and pointed me toward my Hula Hoop. I spent a lot of time flinging that rubber plug beside the hoop, beyond the hoop, short of the hoop, and finally, in the hoop. Over and over, day after day, I practiced. When I starting landing it in the hoop more often than not, he backed me up. Eventually the targets changed. They were smaller and sometimes things were in their way. I cast with accuracy thanks to my dad.
“Fifteen more minutes,” is the family joke when fishing. We spent years with boats tied in a circle, fishing with worms dropped over the edge of our boats. The perch will start biting in “fifteen more minutes.” Two hours later the perch would start biting in “fifteen more minutes.” I’m sure there were small children who thought those 15 minutes were always longer when they were fishing with my dad.
Dad took me across the lake to the stream and taught me how to walk up stream to fish for brookies. We didn’t do it many times because the black flies were horrible but we did it enough to spark my love of fishing in streams. I carry a small pole in my Jeep now so that I’m ready to go if I find an interesting stream. You can find a worm just about anywhere.
It was Dad who showed me where to fish from the bank on one of Maine’s many Round Ponds when I was grossly out of balance at 26 months pregnant (Well it seemed like I was that overdue.) and too unsteady to climb into a tiny boat and row out to fish with everyone else. I caught a lot of big hornpout that evening.
I was fishing in a tournament with Dad when I made the first cast of the morning and lost the smallmouth bass. “Bad luck,” he said, shaking his head. “You won’t catch anything all day.” He was right. Not one damn strike the rest of the long, hot day. I learned how much fishing can test a person’s patience that day, and that no matter how much your arm aches from casting and your hand hurts from reeling, you have no hope of catching anything if you quit.
Some of my happiest days, even when I catch nothing but rocks, are spent on the water because Dad taught me to fish. Thanks Dad! I love you with all my heart.
Happy Father’s Day!