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Thread: The Family Man

  1. Default The Family Man

    The Family Man

    By Len Harris, Jr., Wisconsin

    Lenny Harris was a family man with five daughters and one son. He
    loved the outdoors and though his daughters showed no interest in
    learning the ways of a woodsman, Lenny was blessed with an anxious
    pupil in his son, "Len jr."

    Junior began his training at an early age, his father taking the
    time to bring him squirrel and pheasant hunting, northern fishing,
    long trips in the small rowboat to check bankpoles, and along on
    dad's favorite outdoor pastime, trout fishing. Following his father
    up the streams like a caddy, junior toted whichever rod dad wasn't
    using, be it the "new fangled spinning rod" or the old bamboo fly
    rod. Behind father isn't always the easiest place for a 5 year old
    to be, it doesn't take much water to come up to his chest. Whether
    on the bank, or in the stream, junior was oft reminded, "keep the
    tips out of the trees, and the reels out of the water." Many trips
    the boy yearned to use the poles he carried, watching his father
    Lenny catch trout after trout, countless epic battles were etched
    into his memory before that fateful day, the day Len jr. was to
    become a trout angler.

    Not wanting his son's first trout to be a "gimme," or an easy fix,
    Lenny scouted hard for the right place for his son to experience
    trout fishing. He wanted this day to be special, he thought "too
    easy, and it won't mean anything to the boy." He decided on a long
    deep hole, not crowded by too many overhanging trees; a hole the
    locals called "booger gut." It was perfect.

    The way was long and hard; they marched over hill and dale, wading
    here, through high grass and thick willows there, Junior always
    taking care with the rods, handling them the way his father had
    shown him. Timed for the late afternoon, the moment found them
    heading west, the shadows were long and questioning. The young boy tires, and
    wants to quit, asking his father:

    "Can we go home now?"

    "No, it's just a little farther, enough carrying, today is your
    turn, time for you to catch a trout."

    Little Len's eyes lit up and a surge of energy overtook him, the
    "little farther" seemed like eternity. Then the willows opened up,
    and there was the place memories were made from. The young one began to
    get giddy, and father sat him down explaining: "fishing is like
    life, if it comes too easy you will not appreciate it. I am not
    promising you a big trout here. I am not sure we will catch
    anything, but when we leave here, you will have experienced
    something special. Trout fishing. Fishing, not catching."

    Because he had scouted the water, Lenny knew that fish schooled at
    the head of the pool. He had seen trout working it in the previous
    outings there. The two sat and watched the pool, teaching young Len
    this was something special, something to be savored, something
    unhurried. He had watched his father catch countless trout, and
    carried those same trout for miles on the stringer, a stringer that
    today already suspended many nice trout. The biggest was an 18"
    brown trout that junior had been admiring all day. Getting more and
    more anxious, he thought, "Now it is my turn to put a trout on that

    His father, wisely deciding that a fly rod would be too difficult
    for a five year old, handed junior the spinning rod. "Len, which
    lure do you want to use?" There was no doubt in juniors mind he
    wanted to use the same one father had used to catch the big one. "Ok
    Len, get it out of the box and tie it on." Junior retrieved the
    spinner from its resting place in the box and took care to tie it on
    exactly like he had been taught. It was a small French spinner, a
    Mepps with a red bead, a brass bead, a brass blade and no tail.
    Little Len checked the knot, and bit off the tag end, just like his dad.

    The boy had been taught to cast the spinning rod already, but father
    was worried about his casting into tight cover, and asked: "Is it ok
    if I cast the first one for you?" The youngster didn't want to be a
    baby, having his dad cast for him, but the father persuaded him,
    saying, "let me cast the first couple times for you, then you can do
    it yourself." Junior always listened to his father.

    Lenny cast the spinner upstream of the hole, and handed the rod to
    his son. "Keep the rod tip up, and if the fish is taking drag, stop
    reeling or you will ruin the reel and lose the fish. Now, you may
    not catch any fish, but later, when you get lder, there will be lots
    of trout for you to remember." It was barely ten cranks of the reel
    handle later, and the trout hit. Junior did not need to set the hook
    like he had seen his father do so many times, the trout was crazy,
    swimming upstream like its tail was on fire.

    "DAD, DAD" the youngster shouted, "ITS GOING TO PULL THE ROD OUT OF
    MY HANDS!"

    To which his father patiently replied, "hang on, keep the rod tip
    high, don't reel."

    The trout came about and charged right at them. "Reel in and reel
    fast, tip up." The trout turned, and coursed side to side staying
    deep within the pool, finally running straight under the bank. The
    line stopped throbbing.

    "I think I lost it dad."

    Lenny explained to his son, "the fish has buried itself in the bank,
    let's try to get it out of there, grab your line and back up 2 or 3
    feet, holding the line tight, if it takes off again, let go right away."

    The trick worked, and the trout put up two more long runs before it
    yielded to the boy. "Let it tire some more before you bring it in,
    keep constant pressure and reel when you can. Don't horse it."
    Junior followed the instructions, but the fish came easily toward
    shore. Both fishermen were eager to see the fish, and it obliged
    surfacing not 20 feet from them. The two responded in unison, "oh my
    gosh, it is huge." After glimpsing its captors, the fish resumed
    fighting for its life.

    "Stay right there, and keep the tip up high," Senior waded into the
    pool up to his chest, and netted the fish. He pulled the net close
    to his chest, trapping the trout, or rather the half of it that fit,
    in the net. He quickly waded out, placed the fish near junior and
    said, "unhook it, it will be a fine addition to our stringer." The
    boy proudly unhooked it, put it on the stringer, and marched it back
    to the car. The trip passed in an instant.

    The father and son took a moment to take pictures of the days catch;
    Junior had to stand on the picnic table to get at a level where he
    could take dad's picture. Then off to the gas station, to show off
    the spoils of the day. The locals wowed about the largest fish on
    the stringer, a brown trout, some 23 and ¾ inches long, as measured
    by a plumber with a folding wooden yardstick. Next it was home to
    show the womenfolk, none of whom believed little Len had caught the
    fish, (and didn't care much about fishing anyway, it was for boys.)
    Little Len couldn't wait to get the pictures back from the shop; He
    couldn't wait to show them off. He carried one with him for 2 years,
    until it finally gave out and fell apart.

    I was looking through some old photographs and came across the
    picture of my dad, holding those fish. Even though this happened 40
    years ago, the memories were as strong as if it had happened just
    yesterday. I was there again, walking through the streams of
    southern Wisconsin with my dad.

    Lenny Harris died while deer hunting at age 41. He left behind a Family
    of 6 children and one wonderful wife (Jane). Jane steered the Harris ship
    for many years alone and all of the Harris children moved on to adulthood
    because of the wonderful job my Mom had done.

    Both of the rods and a photo of my dad with that stringer adorn the wall
    of my living room. (1961)

    The photo hangs on the wall at my mothers home also.

    I Miss You Dad.....

    Thank You Mom.....

    Today would have been my dad's birthday....81.....

    Tomorrow is my HERO'S mom...Happy 80th.

  2. Default Re: The Family Man

    Very nice Spinner, very nice.

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