Passing it On
article by Dan Chason
I am rarely at a loss for words. There aren’t a whole lot of things that really hit me in my core, but this past weekend I experienced that feeling. My son, Andy called me and asked me what I was doing on the following weekend. His son, COOPER JUST TURNED ONE and he wanted to take him on his FIRST FISHING TRIP with me.
Needless to say, everything else on my plate was pushed aside as I don’t want to miss any opportunity to be with my family, especially when it comes to sharing my love of fishing.
That love was born many years ago, when my father, an avid fisherman, used to insist on taking me as even as a baby on trips fishing. I am told my first fishing trip resulted in my stroller rolling into the water. It probably had something to do with my wanting to be closer to the fish. Many trips later, I could soon be found on my own, pedaling my bicycle down a country road with my rod and reel strapped on the handlebars. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just knew I loved to fish.
Fishing was the catalyst to get me to work at all of my chores. If you wanted to go fishing, there was a chore that had to be completed so you could go. That passion never left me and I still have the same drive and passion for some unknown reason. There is something about taking an artificial lure and making a fish bite it that creates a challenge for me. There aren’t many things that give me as much pleasure as that feeling when I catch a fish.
Well into my teen years, everything took second place to fishing. I bought my own truck at age 15 and my first boat at age 16. Work was the necessity to finance my fishing. I would go to high school, drive my little sister home from school, return to work at McDonald’s until late at night, then leave there for my nightly trip to Bayou DeSiard. It was there that my fishing skills were honed. When you have only a trolling motor and an aluminum boat with no depth finders/fish finders or any other way to locate fish, you learn to rely on other issues. Learning weather patterns, fish patterns, bait fish, cover and all of the things that give an angler the advantage are learned when you are forced to learn them. Probably the best learning tool there is comes when you fish with multiple partners. Every person I have ever fished with taught me something. That is still true today. I believe that when you think you have learned it all, you have stopped growing. My desire since day one was always to be the best I could be. I am not saying I have ever come close to being the best, but it is a repeated challenge every time I get on the water.
So, when Andy called my first statement was probably not well received. I think it has something to do with my son’s confidence in my abilities on the water. The boy thinks I can catch a fish in a bathtub. I told him that the water temperature wasn’t right and we would be fishing on a high barometer. I think my exact words were, “It’s gonna be a miracle if we get a bite.” On this particular Sunday afternoon, Andy, Cooper and my daughter-in-law arrived for a short visit with my wife, Michele, and me at our home. You could tell that Andy was excited, but to be quite honest I was wishing it was a lot warmer and that the Spring time pattern was in bloom.
We rode down to the pier on my UTV and took my youngest grandson, Cooper on what would be a very slow afternoon of fishing. He was using the Spiderman rod and reel I had bought him for his birthday and I sat back to let my son lead the way. That is when it happened. When I saw the patience, the love and the act of giving my grandson the fishing experience that he was receiving from my son, it literally brought a tear to my eye. I remembered that same big footed, blue eyed boy that followed my every step growing up. I remembered one time when my neighbor told me he came home from lunch to see 5 year old Andy squatted on my driveway, pole in hand, watching a cork attached to the line of his pole, intently waiting for it to move. Problem was he was “fishing” in a mud puddle created when I would miss the driveway pulling into my house, which created a rut that would fill with rain water. My neighbor said he went in, ate lunch and came out only to see Andy still intently watching the cork. He asked Andy a very important question: “You catching anything, Andy?” His response was classic as Andy looked up and only replied, “Not yet.” Andy returned to his “fishing” and that memory came back to me as I knew my son, too had been bitten by the fishing bug. To see it repeat 31 years later made me grateful. Grateful to D.C. Chason, my Pop and to Robert L. Chason, my Dad and to all the great men I have met fishing. They made a lasting impression on me that carries on until this day. My prayer is that 31 years from now, Cooper Reid Chason will sit on that same pier with his son and talk about the first trip he took fishing with his Dad…..and his grateful Pop.