The annual Father’s Day Kids’ Fishing Derby at the Marine Park wharf in Salmon Arm was cancelled for 2020 and again in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (James Murray photo)

The annual Father’s Day Kids’ Fishing Derby at the Marine Park wharf in Salmon Arm was cancelled for 2020 and again in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (James Murray photo)

Column: Remembering the link between fishing, a father and son

The Great Outdoors by James Murray

It is with somewhat mixed emotions and feelings that I ponder this coming weekend.

For one thing, it will be Father’s Day on Sunday and, for another, it also would have been the 25th annual Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby.

I miss my father. He passed away 25 years ago. I started the derby in his honour.

I think what I miss most about my father is his stories. He loved to tell stories. It always took him twice as long as anyone else to tell a story because he would laugh so hard as he was trying to get through it.

I also definitely miss that wonderfully precious laughter of his – it was infectious to say the least. What I wouldn’t give to hear it just one more time.

I know I certainly miss going fishing with him. He taught me how to fish – how to cast, when and how to set the hook, and how to be patient. I know he was certainly patient with me.

Looking back at those days now long ago, I realize that I must have driven him half crazy. I mean I really was a scatter-brained kid who spent most of my time daydreaming.

I was never all that good in school. I think the phrase the teachers used back then was “I didn’t apply myself enough.” If only they could have seen me when I was fishing.

The one thing that my father was always willing to do for each of us four siblings was to give us his time.

He found a way to show an interest in what we were interested in and would set aside the time to spend with each of us. He was not a well-educated man, a blacksmith by trade, and yet he had a unique insight into many of life’s mysteries.

He cared about his children enough to dedicate his life to finishing the job that he and my mother started together. My mother passed away almost 60 years ago.

He did pretty good with three out of the four at least. And, even if I was a bit of a disappointment sometimes, he never really let on.

One thing I did manage to do right was to establish the annual Salmon Arm Kids’ Fishing Derby.

For 23 years it was an overwhelming success – in large part to my fellow organizers Donna Flatman and Aly Vann as well as the many volunteers who have helped out over the years.

I remember that first year I didn’t know if anyone would even show up. They did and continued to come in droves every year afterwards.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to cancel the derby last year and again this year.

Read more: Great Outdoors: Salmon Arm Kids Fishing Derby reels in family fun

Read more: Column: Memories to be made, prizes to be won at Kids’ Fishing Derby

I wish we could have put on the derby again this year but it was decided to err on the side of caution. Just wait until next year.

Over the 23 years we have put on the derby, I know I saw a lot of young anglers and their families having a lot of fun fishing off the docks down at Marine Park.

Like I said, the derby was started in honour of my father who took every kid there was fishing. If any of my or my brother’s friends wanted to come along, he found room for them in the car.

Looking back, I don’t think he ever really got to do all that much fishing himself – he was always too busy baiting hooks, netting fish and making sure nobody fell into the water.

While the derby has been held each year on Father’s Day, it is also held in conjunction with the province’s Family Fishing Weekend (June 18- 21) when anglers are encouraged to experience and enjoy the sport of fishing without the need to purchase a Freshwater Fishing Licence.

The two just happen to coincide. Thousands of kids and their families have participated in the derby and more than $100,000 has been given away in prizes. I think my father would be fairly proud.

The derby cancellations aside, things are improving on the COVID-19 front and we are already in the process of planning the derby for next year.

In the meantime, there is no reason why families with young anglers can’t get out and enjoy time together casting a line and maybe even catching some fish.

I know I hold the memories of the times my father took me and my brother fishing very dear to my heart. They were simple times but good times. They are also some of the times that I think about the most often.

Thanks Dad for being patient with me even though I was a scatter-brained daydreamer who never really applied myself enough. I do miss you.
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