Mike Jackson: Father's Day memories still fresh in my mind
We slowly drifted with the current close to a stretch of shoreline on the Peshtigo River.
Even though the calendar claimed it was mid-July, the chill in the air was more than enough to hatch a fresh batch of goose pimples on my arms. Irv saw me shivering but didn't do anything except light his pipe and look straight ahead.
My late father, Irv, loved to fish and hunt pheasants.
I was 5 when he started teaching me how to handle a shotgun on a piece of land he and some friends owned near Huntley. I downed my first rooster pheasant with a .410 single barrel. It tasted like million bucks that night at the dinner table.
But it was those weekend fishing excursion on the Chain when I really "cut my teeth," and the trips to Crivitz, Wisconsin. They were like graduation events with fishing lesson after lesson from Irv.
The new Martin outboard was Irv's pride and joy. It was a very special moment when he handed me the reigns and asked me to sit in the stern of the old wooden boat so I could operate the motor. I could see in his eyes how proud he was of his student, a chip off the old block.
We finally got to the Twin Bridge area and immediately started catching walleyes and a few northern pike. We released a few dozen fat walleyes but ultimately kept two fish and one northern for that evening's dinner.
My eagerness had to be tempered when Irv started showing me how to clean and filet the 'eyes as well as deboning the chunky pike. Dinner was all of five stars and then some.
The next morning found me in the boat's stern again, with one hand on the throttle and my eyes scanning the river for big rocks and other debris.
The clock dictated our lunch routine. I pulled the boat over to a sandy shoreline and tied a bow line to a tree.
Irv grabbed his spinning rod and his Luxor reel and started casting to section of river where he obviously thought a slack-water pool held some promise.
And it did.
He managed to catch four jumbo perch. He dropped the stringer in my lap and suggested in his gentle way that my job was to start a campfire and clean the fish. I gladly accepted the request. It was my first shore lunch, and it became injected into my memory as one of the special moments with my father.
I can honestly say there were hundreds more like that as I continued getting older.
When I took Irv to a sub-Arctic hot fishing spot, I had to help him in and out of the bush plane because he had major issues with walking and getting around.
I was one of the few guys in my Albany Park neighborhood who was fortunate enough to have a caring father who taught me about the woods and water. I inherited all of his gear when he passed away, and I frequently used the rods and reels just to relive that feeling of closeness.
I don't need one of those gift-card companies or magazine ads extolling the importance of paying tribute to my father.
I can write my own tributes in my journal every day.
Let me know about your dad.
• Catch Mike Jackson Outdoors 7 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WCGO AM-1590 or stream live at 1590WCGO.com.