Finding fishers of men

America could use a few more men willing to be dads

There’s this thing about fishing. Often, the return on your tremendous investment of time, energy and resources is three hours of shivering and staring at downriggers. 

Behind every boy’s rise to manhood is a dad who took him fishing.

There’s the boat – and keeping that running — and the licenses, tackle and bait. Don’t forget rods and reels waiting to be tangled by snot-nosed kids, either. One must not only know where “the fish are biting,” he must coordinate all of the aforementioned logistics to get there when they are. Even if he succeeds, he still might sit for two hours without a nibble. 

It forces you to ask, “is this worth it?” 

My answer: we need more men to go fishing with their sons. 

As political pundits continue to argue over how to legislate away society’s gravest ills, sitting in the middle of the room is our proverbial elephant: fatherlessness. 

“When you’re talking about the socialization process, the maturation process — kids need the father,” Joe Gray told me in an unexpected, but particularly poignant turn during our interview before the GoPro Mountain Games. He noted statistics for children from single-parent households in regard to crime, education and well-being. 

“The likelihood of them failing in life is much higher.” 

The presence of someone willing to accept the responsibility of being a dad is the number one factor — statistically speaking — in determining young people’s outcome when it comes to their emotional health and risk of suicide, domestic violence, sexual misconduct and homelessness, too. In other words, what America needs right now isn’t any kind of handout or propagated piece of legislation. No, we need more men who dig for worms, sit in the rain, and untangle fishing line from the pine trees behind the dock.

I can’t imagine I’m alone in my annoyed observation of our world’s constant stream of bickering over surface-level symptoms and political leaders’ application of bandaids to our culture’s foundational diseases. The quickest way to be canceled these days, however, would be to suggest our societal sicknesses could be cured if more men embraced a Biblical masculinity. Perhaps that term’s misconstruction is irreparable.

Or maybe this is where fishing comes in. 

Imagine men willing to invest in an afternoon on the lake with their son or daughter. Imagine the conversations and maturation which could flow from a stream of fly-fishing-forged heart-to-hearts. 

Imagine a society where men know that masculinity means assuming responsibility — the precursor to any meaningful headship — and who model a sacrificial love their spouse knows is worth following. We need men who grasp this, practice it and strive to teach it to their offspring. 

Fishing’s metaphors extend beyond fatherhood.

The legwork for an afternoon of casting is a reminder that labor’s meaning transcends the instant gratification of a paycheck, though that provision is important. What is more paramount is the demonstration of righteous ambition — the dedicated pursuit of excellence and craftsmanship, no matter who is watching — through our labor. 

The value is found — in fishing and in life —  in the process.

Sometimes, the opportunity for a trophy fish does miraculously manifest itself. I remember being a little boy fishing in Canada with my grandpa, uncle, two brothers and dad. After waking up at 3:30 a.m. in a true fishing camp cabin, we set out to the “ spot,” an arbitrary remote island whose lore birthed out of some 1967 bounty our family apparently never forgot. Sometime around noon, a giant lake trout latched, knocking over the pop can warning system and jolting our collective testosterone into action. 

A father might elect to take it himself — this was a big one, after all. A dad knows it’s important to let his boy set the hook himself, and underneath the wise — but understandably skeptical — look of Grandpa (who has probably lost his share of fish via “character-building” stunts like this), I nervously took hold of the reel.

With the 10-pounder safely on shore, I felt happy for not letting the crew down. Then, I went back to writing down my bird-watching observations, admiring my own handwriting as I jotted down meaningless notes in some journal because — if you haven’t figured out by these columns yet — I was, and still am, a bit of an odd fellow. 

Aside from that, I now know fishing isn’t necessarily about raising boys who grow up to fish.

It’s about showing them how to grow up at all. 

You can feign your competency as fisherman a lot longer than you can as a dad.

Our society is craving – crying out — for mature men who actually know what it means to be a man. Ambitious, selfless, courageous leaders who are present because they know what is really important. If you didn’t make any Father’s Day plans yet and you think the hassle of fishing puts that activity out of the question — reconsider. 

Maybe it really is worth it in the end.   

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

2 thoughts on “Finding fishers of men

  1. Hi Ryan,
    That was a great collum, and it works for lots of different people. Thanks.

    Ryan and oddfellow?????
    Maybe, but we love you anyway.

    Like

  2. One of the great moments of my life after my dad took me fishing and I took my sons, was to be the knot tie guy and detangler for my 92 year old dad. Unforgettable.

    Liked by 1 person

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