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“DAD” | A Father’s Day Tribute

Posted on Jun 18, 2016 by Dave Blackburn

My earliest memories of fishing with my Dad came from Dunnings Creek where my Dad fished as a boy. We would go do to the “ol fishin hole” and build a fire in the spring of the year, cook hotdogs and fish with our rods on forked sticks waiting for a bite. As we grew older, Dad would take us to a farm pond that rarely got fished, you could see big bass and bluegills swimming the perimeter. My older brothers and I advanced to lure fisherman as well as relying on the good ol worm when lures weren’t working. I remember my older brothers going to another part of the pond when fishing was slow and skipping rocks across the pond. There was one episode where my older brother was wearing a red sweatshirt and got chased by a bull that was in the pasture by the pond. I remember watching all of this as I was concentrating on fishing. Occasionally a large bass would swim by and I would get awful excited as I tried to catch it.  Dad would also take us to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, which flowed a block away from our house. We began to fish for trout on these waters and I would catch a few with my older brothers. Dad always said that I was the fisherman in the family, as I had more patience than my older brothers when it came to fishing.

I am especially mindful of this upcoming Father’s Day, as I lost my Dad at 95 about 1 year ago.  I am very grateful to have had a
father like him. I will be forever amazed by everything he went through and all the changes that progressed in his lifetime. I am re-reading the book that we got published back in 2012, “In the Company of Heroes, The Memoirs of Cpt. Richard M. Blackburn” about his World War II memoirs. It is truly incredible to know all the changes he went through from a Pennsylvania small town country boy starting in the Army Air Corps, and then making the transfer into the Infantry because he really didn’t want to sit behind a typewriter since he was put on as a staffer due to not being able to fly because one of his eyes was not quite 20/20. Many of you who have read the book already know that he went on to land at Omaha Beach in the second wave, leaving the day of his 20th birthday, to join in the fray of battle. He was wounded 4 times from shrapnel and bullets, the last time taking him out for good with a shot to the femur from a German sniper that had killed a forward scout and a medic. Dad was able to put a tourniquet on and wait for dark until he could be evacuated. He then spent a year in a body cast and went through numerous surgeries almost losing the leg, which eventually began to heal.

He walked with a limp for as long as I can remember until he got a knee replacement in later years. The amazing thing about my Dad and the men that fought in WWII is that they came back from the war and went right to work, raising families, and living normal lives apart from their wartime experiences. Most of them didn’t really say much about this part of their life. When Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation book came out, many of them opened up about the war, including my Dad. At Dad’s funeral service last May we heard from many of his friends and it was a very moving event, ending with a full military honors. We owe so much to these great men who literally went out and saved the world from tyranny and oppression. Their motto and battle cry back then was “FOLLOW ME!”

Fathers Day Special

With Father’s day in mind and our hopes to get more fathers out on the water, we are offering a Father’s Day Special on all our Kootenai trips booked from now until the end of the month. You can fish anytime, but the booking needs to made before June 31. We will give a $50 discount on all Kootenai guided trips booked for fathers, just mention that you saw the “Father’s Day Special” online and we will honor it.

GoFlyFishMontana.com | 800.322.9339 | dave@montana-flyfishing.com

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About dave

Dave Blackburn started tying flies and fly fishing at the age of 10 and has been fishing and guiding the Kootenai River in Montana for more than 25 years. He graduated from West Virginia University with a BS in Forest Resource Management with an emphasis on water quality and aquatic ecology. He traveled westward and ended up in Montana on the banks of the Kootenai in 1981 where he now resides with his wife, Tammy. He is on the board of directors of the Kootenai Valley Trout Club. He has been a past director of the the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and the Montana Council of Trout Unlimited. Dave chaired the Upper Kootenai River Preservation Society, which was instrumental in defeating the Jennings Rapids Dam project. Dave is a FFF-certified casting instructor and a contract tyer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. He teaches fly tying and fly fishing at Flathead Community College. His photos and articles have appeared in Flyfisherman, Fly Rod and Reel, and The Flyfisher magazines.