Death of a Parent Grief Journal Relationships

Fishing Lessons (the love between a Dad and his little girl)

Fishing Lessons (the love between a Dad and his little girl)
Written by Lisa Leshaw

My dad was my best fishing partner for 21 years. When I was 6 he baited my first hook with a squiggly worm that made me squirm and taught me how to cast out my fishing line without hooking the back of my shirt.

We’d sit on the dock’s wobbly wooden bench for hours eating PB & J Ritz cracker sandwiches, watching our poles dance in the morning breeze. Only when I got really bored would I turn my attention elsewhere, generally to my Spirograph or Barbie.

Every Sunday, June to September rain or shine we drove to that tiny pier.

It was an embarrassing moment when at 7 I reeled in a fish all by myself and my Dad had to tell EVERY SINGLE person within earshot.


If that wasn’t enough, he had to coax them into coming over and peering into our bucket so they could set eyes on the prize we would momentarily be setting free.

Adult milestones never interfered with our fishing journeys.

When I obtained my first job I made certain to request shifts that started after 12:00.

When I married I left my husband to sleep away the pre-dawn and returned hours later with compensation; bagels, lox and cream cheese.

Our routine was nearly identical for the first 14 years.

We talked mostly “fish talk” among the other adventurers and took turns snoozing. I’d read the comics while my dad digested the entire Sunday paper.

See there’s a lot of down time when you’re a fisherperson (my word for girl fishermen).

However, ever so often you’d get a nibble on your line and your spirit would soar and your heart might race a tad and you’d grab your line and hope the tug of war on the other end was a fish and not a wad of seaweed.

Funny thing about fishing. It didn’t seem to matter if we actually caught a fish.

The anticipation and possibility were the sources of our joy.

As I aged so did our conversations from how fish swam in schools to how my Grandpa, though not schooled himself, taught my Dad how to live harmoniously among different people and how to make a difference himself.

For the next half of our journey we enjoyed the sun on our faces, the rain on our shoulders and the easiness of summer days.

Throughout all those 21 years I thought my Dad and I were just fishing.

That first Sunday in September when he was no longer sitting beside me on that wobbly bench, I realized what we were doing was being a father & daughter. And that his fishing lessons were really life lessons in disguise.

Fishing Lesson #1

It’s not always easy to catch a fish.

Life Lesson #1

When you really want something badly enough, you must be patient. Not all things come according to our schedule. Wait and while waiting, be productive. You’ll be rewarded in time.

Fishing Lesson #2

Once you’ve caught a fish, revel in the moment for a moment or two and then return the fish to the water and start again.

Life Lesson #2

When you reach a goal applaud your achievement, tell your friends on Facebook and then set a brand new goal to work towards.

Fishing Lesson #3

Something about Sundays and summer sunrises and the chance to catch a fish making a man’s soul richer.

Life Lesson #3

Something about Sundays and summer sunrises and the chance for a daughter to be with her Dad being the richest blessing of them all.

About the author

Lisa Leshaw

Lisa Leshaw has worked as a mental health professional for the past 31 years. She currently conducts Parenting Skills Workshops, Group Counseling for Blended Families and Empowerment Circles for Women. As a consultant, Lisa travels throughout teaching Communication and Listening Skills, Behavioral Management Techniques and Motivational Strategies.

To de-stress she performs in children’s theatre and plays piano whenever requested. She is hoping to either write the next memorable musical composition or Great American Novel!


  • I love this so much. The fishing being bigger life lessons, and that close relationship. Those of us lucky enough to have these amazing relationships with parents get to take away so much.

  • I love your fishing/life lessons!! So good and true! There is just something so special about a father and daughter relationship. Beautiful words:)

    • Sherry!
      Thank you for your beautiful comment! It touched me deeply. There really IS something so special about a father daughter bond and I miss it everyday!

  • Fishing is such a huge part of our family-what a special way to build close relationships! Loved this article!

    • Jennifer!
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my fishing with my Dad post! It is such a beautiful way to build bonds as you know from your own family!

  • Lisa this is terrific! I can taste the Ritz sandwiches, feel the sun on my face, overhear your conversations with your dad, and see a little girl on a wobbly bench learning about fishing and life! Sharing!