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What Fishing Has Done for Me

In this article, Hayden Minor takes a more personal look at fishing and how it has affected various parts of his life.




Grandpa Rich and Dad


Fishing has always been a part of my life, sometimes popping in and out as the years went by. In fact, fishing goes back in my family for generations preceding me. My Grandpa Rich, my mom's father, was an avid fisherman. When he would take the family down to Florida for vacation, he would be gone from sunup until sundown fishing on the lake. His tall, skinny build and wicked tan really set him apart from the crowd. In addition to this, his passion for fishing and the outdoors made his soul so special.




Grandpa Rich with his prized trophy bass.


When my mom began dating my dad during their college days, Grandpa Rich would often take my dad out on the neighborhood lake and go fishing. On one such day, the two were fishing off the bank and my dad's rod began peeling out drag like crazy. Rich was convinced that it had to be a catfish, being that the fight was so rigorous and was dragging on for quite a while. However, when my dad was finally able to land the fish, he found it to be his personal best largemouth bass. He would go on to mount that bass on our wall, and it became something that I still admire to this day.


My dad was raised in Bindloss, Alberta, on the Bar Diamond cattle ranch. While there, my dad and uncles would often spend their time outside hunting, riding dirt bikes, and fishing the Red Deer River that ran near the ranch. There, they would fish for gold eyes until it got dark outside. On family vacations, my Great Uncle Tom would take my dad out on Muriel Lake with a small john boat and troll for northerns.


Teaching the grandkids how to fish was a big deal to my Grandpa Rich. I remember one day he took us all to the lake and taught us how to cast and reel in. He refused to leave until he saw each of us five grandchildren catch a bass. There was one time that my mom had caught a fish that was barely hooked in the mouth. When it wiggled, it had popped off and fell into the water, but my grandpa refused to give up. He immediately dove into the lake and grabbed the bass to give to my mom. That's the type of man that Grandpa Rich was.


Growing up, my dad would take me and my siblings to our small cabin trailer in Wilmington, Illinois, to spend the weekend. We would all fish during the day, cook dinner, and then catfish while watching movies during the night. I cherish those weekends at the cabin dearly, and I hope to give my own kids memories like that one day.


Finding Fishing Again


When I was around 11 years old, Grandpa Rich passed away from colon cancer after a long, determined fight. A few years later my grandma sold their house on the lake, and when I was 16 years old my family sold our cabin. For years I lost my love for fishing, but the loving memories still remained. I would rediscover fishing while looking through an old photo album and remembering all the good times I had as a kid. After high school, I made a commitment to relearning how to fish and connect with the outdoors.


My journey began with Grandpa Rich's old tacklebox. Being that I hadn't fished in several years, I had no tackle left other than his. In a way, it was as if my grandpa was teaching me to fish once more. After months of catching any fish of notable size, I finally caught a solid largemouth bass. I was so excited; the feeling was like no other. It was at that moment that my passion reignited, one that still burns brightly today.


Gettin' Back to Business


For the next couple years, I would spend day after day fishing whenever I could. There are hundreds of fishing stories that I could tell, but I'll stick to one that never fails to make me laugh.


On a hot, summer day, I decided to go wade fishing for the first time. I stepped out on the DuPage River in my brand-new waders and went on the hunt for some smallmouth bass. I actually did end up catching a few, and then decided to start making my way back towards the truck. While I was walking, I noticed I was on a smooth, rocky surface rather than the mud that I was used to. I didn't think anything of it, but before I knew it, I had accidently stepped off a large boulder and sunk to my head under the surface. My phone, car keys, and entire body got soaked in murky river water. While at the time it was annoying, today it is one of my favorite fishing memories of all time.




A selfie taken moments before disaster...


After a few more failures, I began to really get the hang of fishing. I started to learn how to fish new lures and began finding techniques that worked best for me. After gaining some confidence in my abilities, I started my Instagram account called Murky Gills. It originally was just a place for me to post pictures of my catches, but it later became something bigger to me. I began meeting other fisherman online and started to wonder if I could create my own fishing community through Murky Gills. Eventually, that feeling brought me to here; I am beyond excited that I have finally launched my website, and I cannot wait to see where it'll go within the next couple of years!


Conclusion


To end this article, I wanted to take a deeper look into what fishing has done for me. It taught me many lessons in patience, determination, and hope. It also taught me a valuable lesson in love; love for one's family and love for oneself.


Some of my most cherished memories are from fishing with my dad and Grandpa Rich. As I have reflected upon them further, I realized the importance in family and the times you're able to spend together. The fish we caught were great, but what really mattered was the fun we had as a family and the love that we were able to express to one another.


Today, fishing has become my own personal outlet to let out the stress and struggles from my life. When I am on the water, I feel as though I enter my own world and can leave all other worries behind. As someone who is bipolar, I have found that fishing has helped me manage my highs and lows and keep me level. Additionally, it has brought so many new faces and kind souls into my life. Fishing has become more than a hobby for me, it has become a way of life.



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