Things my dad taught me while fishing
A Provincetown native reflects on life lessons learned on the pond
Spring is a time of renewal, and each year it is a time when I remember my dad, Joe Dirsa, and the times I had with him, and all he taught me about fishing—and life. Dad grew up during the Depression and joined the Navy when he was 17. He had an eighth-grade education, but he was one of the wisest men I’ve ever known. Naturally, it would not be until many years later, and after he died, that I would realize all of the lessons he taught me during our many fishing trips.
After a career in the U.S. Navy, my dad decided he wanted to live by the sea on Cape Cod. As a result, I grew up in the magical community of Provincetown. The town is magical because of its astounding sunrises and sunsets, which both occur over water—one of the rare places in the world where that happens—and because of its picturesque sand dunes, beaches, and fishing boats. It’s a place where different cultures come together in harmony and where our roots can be traced back to the very beginnings of America.
The first lesson Dad taught me was about patience. I was 6 years old in 1947 when my dad and my step-grandfather, Captain Manuel Vegas, took me fishing in Provincetown Harbor. The captain had been a fisherman his entire life and maintained a fishing dory, which he and my dad often used for fishing. I was thrilled to be invited along.
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