Why Go Fishing
A Thanks To All Who Made The
By Dan Grulke
I was fortunate growing up in that I had two caring
parents, no worries about food, a comfortable house, and our
Christmas tree was always packed with presents. But what I found
most important of all was my parents, one uncle in particular,
and friends whom had the time, patience, and understanding to
take me and teach me fishing.
started fishing early at the age of five going to
Lake in New York with my Dad, Uncle Earl, and my
brother on family vacations during Memorial weekend. My Dad and
Uncle Earl would troll for pike in the mornings and leave my
brother and me at the campground with the ladies. I was always
at the point of tears when they didn’t take me and I would wait
for our bluegill fishing trips in the afternoon—which seemed
like an eternity. Mom would always drive us down to the dock to
fish at the boat ramp while waiting for the men to come back to
get us. When they arrived you couldn’t beat me in a race to get
into that boat. We would spend the rest of the day with the men
catching bluegills or until the worms were used-up. Afterwards
Uncle Earl and Dad would show me how to fillet the bluegills so
that Aunt Ellen and Mom could fry them up in a beer batter. I
was hooked and the seed was planted.
During my pre-teen and early teenage years my life seemed
to turn to turmoil and uncertainty as with most teenagers.
Puberty, moving to a new neighborhood, and going to High School
seemed to be more than I could take. I may not have made it if
those first fishing seeds hadn’t been planted. I could always
look forward to Memorial Day at
Butterfield Lake and now I could troll for Pike with
No matter how much of an arrogant, egotistical teenager
I was, they still took me and loved me. It was at this time in
my life that fishing took on a spiritual meaning; no matter how
deep and daunting life became I found peace and relaxation
Later in my teenage years Dad would take us up to Quail High in Luray and
this is when I got my first taste of smallmouth fishing. My
first canoe trip was with Red Gambril and I learned the fine art
of canoeing, shore lunches, and chasing smallmouth bass. On my
first canoe trip I was skunked but by now the seed was planted
and instead of getting discouraged--I got determined. For a
teenager and throughout my life this would be an important
lesson to understand. I began to practice the art of bass
fishing on local ponds chasing largemouth and was quite
success led to the purchasing of more fishing gear and tackle.
To some this may seem like a waste of money but that waste of
money probably kept me away from more trouble than I was already
getting into in life.
By the time I was able to drive, my mentors had already shown me
how to canoe and fish for smallmouths and I spent numerous
weekends camping in Luray pursuing smallmouth bass. I became
very proficient in catching numbers of small bass and was very
content doing so. I had become, thanks to my mentors,
independent and humble fishermen. On one trip in particular,
that would all change.
For my High School graduation I went fishing with my good
friend Dennis. Instead of beach week we drove down to Wise,
Virginia to fish the South Fork of the Holsten River
with his Uncle Norris. I will never forget the 6-pound plus
smallmouth Uncle Norris caught one day. Something in me changed
and the my focus of pursuing trophy fish was planted. No longer
was I happy with 9’-12” smallmouth bass.
The independence I learned from canoeing, camping, and
fishing on my own was a lesson I needed to learn in order to go
to college in Montana;
and I learned it through fishing. No longer was I afraid to be
on my own (though still supported by school loans, Pell grants,
and parent subsidies) and live away from my parents. In
Montana I spent numerous hours pursuing trophy trout
waters with a good friend, Holden. Even with all that great
trophy trout fishing my thoughts were still haunted by pike
fishing and that 6-pound smallie.
After college graduation I moved back to
Virginia, thanks to my caring and
understanding and eventual wife Amy. At this point in my life I
had been fishing with my best friend Jon Drever for about 10
years. We embarked on numerous memorable trips for both large
and smallmouth bass. On the day of his wedding reception dinner,
he caught his biggest largemouth bass and I was part of that. In
return, for my bachelor party, we spent the day wade fishing and
canoeing for smallies in Luray. On that trip to Luray my Dad
caught a 4-pound smallmouth and again I was reminded of a desire
for pursing a trophy smallie.
It wasn’t long after that I decided to go to the Dulles
Expo Fishing show and my life was forever changed for the
better. I saw a booth called Life Outdoors Unlimited with some
interesting guides that were having a good time behind the
display. They were advertising trophy smallmouth fishing on the
Susquehanna River. I booked a trip for Jon Drever
and me with the most personable guide there, Dave Kerrigan. That
trip was everything they advertised. We caught many trophy
smallmouth bass and though I was thoroughly out fished by both
Jon and Dave, I find it hard to recall a better trip I was ever
on. For the next couple of years Jon and I booked a trip with
Dave on the Susky. The trip was a major turning point in my
life. It began the process of becoming a teacher of fishing.
There is no doubt in my mind that without Jon and Dave I
would never have become a guide for Life Outdoors Unlimited.
They introduced me to Ken Penrod and though I had read his books
I had never met the man to this point. They vouched for my
character and fishing ability wise and went out on a limb by
doing so. For that
and for Ken giving me the chance to guide I am forever grateful
and promise to leave no one at the dock again. I was now
provided with a method to give back to others what I was so
freely given all these years--the opportunity to reach and teach
many young and old anglers the art of fishing. I was also given
the principle of gratitude--something I did not have a lot of
(though I should have) at this point in my life.
wasn’t until after the birth of my second child that I realized
that fishing and guiding had given me something even more
important; the patience, tolerance, and understanding to help
raise children. Every guided trip I was fortunate to embark on
taught me patience, tolerance, and how to deal with frustration
(especially when the fish aren’t biting and you know they are
there). These lessons are indispensable when dealing with kids.
I also found that I may have taught my clients (though most I
call friends now) fishing but they taught me how to raise my
children and how to overcome adversity.
The next generation- nothing is more rewarding than
being able to teach.
Every type of aspect of fishing whether salt, surf,
fresh, or whatever species I pursue you can bet your last dollar
there was a mentor or teacher who taught me how to. They may
have thought they took me fishing but they really took me down a
road in my life. Whether it be rod building and surf fishing, or
musky and walleye fishing, or chasing pike and bluegills, or
pursing trophy smallies and blue cats I was really being
prepared for life. You see I missed the book or forgot to read
ALL I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW
I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. I had to read the book take Dan
fishing because that is how I learned to live life and that my
friends is why I go fishing.
In gratitude of Dad, Mom, Uncle Earl, Ken Penrod, Dave
Kerrigan, Jon Drever, LaMont Roth, John Jenson, Tom Doyle, all
the LOU guides, all our sponsors and all the other family and
friends whom had
time to teach me fishing; may your live wells always be full.
To book trips please contact Ken Penrod or any of the
other Life Outdoors Unlimited guides. Please check out our
web-site www.penrodsguides.com for other articles in LOU
Magazine and our weekly fishing report. For questions on this
article please contact Dan Grulke at email@example.com, the
web-site above, or via phone 703-389-3508.