Fishing Ancestry


Not to be confused with Freestone
Being the only one in my family that fishes, as far back as I know, I sometimes wonder where I got that DNA. Except for my older brother, who I introduced to fly fishing buy building him a rod and setting up a guided trip on the Sacramento when he retired from the Air Force, no one I know fished as a longtime hobby/passion. Being of Irish/German decent, I'm guessing my piscatorial drive came from the Irish side of the family tree...but don't know, because the names on the tree don't say anything about their life's interests. In contrast, I'll bet others come from a family tree rich with fisherman and have the old pictures, letters or stories passed along that would easily explain why you too are wired for the sport.

Anyway, it was a thought that popped into my head while casting a retrieving for pinks last week and try as I have can find no link in my past that explains why I will stand in water waiving a stick for hours at a time. It would be interesting to hear from others about what they know or don't know about your "fishing ancestry".

Hillbilly Redneck

wishin i was fishin
My dad was never much of a fisherman. But he introduced my older brother and I to the outdoors via hiking and such. My brother was always trying to catch something no matter where we were. Over the years I caught the bug too. My dad is still a hard core hiker at 81 years young.


Active Member
Myself - Indian - German - Irish - you might be onto something!

I always used an over sized net because of my Indian lines.
Fly fishing for steel and salmon must be from my Irish lines.
I've killed a lot of fish over the years - maybe that has something to do with my German lines!

My father was mostly German and Irish and started his three sons steelheading when we were about 5 - 6 - and 9 - we've had drifters in the family since I was a teen and I'm 54 now. I was the youngest always trying to out-do my older brothers giving me the drive to learn more over the years. I still remember my father taking us all to Bonneville dam to practice fighting shad before he would take us steelheading - we learned how to fight fish and what the hell a drag was for so when we hit the rivers we knew what the hell we were doing. For many years we had three drifters in the family. first one was wood - HMMMM WOOD? could be from my Indian lines -

Maybe my Irish side helps me release so many fish??????????????????????

Greg Armstrong

Like Hillbilly, my Dad was a hunter much more than a fisherman. We hunted together a lot through the years. But I think it was my Norwegian heritage that got me into this. That side of the family sailed from their island home every winter to fish cod in the Lofoten Islands north of the Arctic circle where I took these photos.
I had a chance 1 year ago to go on a journey there with my own son. It's a magical place and we found family members on the small island that my Great - Great Grandfather emigrated from, to here in western Washington in the late 1800's. This area reminded them of "back home".
I think this is why I like beach fishing; P1040628.JPG This little stream was full of native Browns; Lofoten Stream.JPG

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Let's see, fly fishers: Mom, Dad, 1 aunt, 3 uncles, all of my older cousins, fly shop next door to the house, crick full of big browns < a mile from the house, and Dad took me with him from the time that I was wee little. Legacy shared: 7 younger nephews & a multitude of friends who got the addiction. I'm still holding-out hope for my Kids.
My dad joked that when I was born my first words were, "We goin' huntin'?" to which he replied, "No." and I said "Oh good we're goin' fishin'!!!"

I remember mostly gear fishing with him, mostly in the salt of the Puget Sound and on up to Neah Bay. In the fresh water too, but not as much. We'd catch anything that swims - if the salmon weren't having it then we were on the bottom for cod, rockfish, flounder, etc.

My first fish I recall was when I was maybe three with him and my grandpa while we still lived near Sacto. I was in a wooden row boat on the Dead River (a backwater of the Sacramento) and got a nice crappie. Btw, he wasn't my blood grandpa, but was my grandpa nonetheless. The old guy had the killer stink bait recipe for big catfish down there.

I learned to tie and cast a fly at eleven years old. My other grandpa (also not blood, by marriage) taught me at the kitchen table on a Thompson Model-A and a copy of Roy Patrick's pattern book to tie flies. He taught me to cast in the back yard.

Old twist ties from bread bags would attach my fly rod to my ten speed frame, and my BSA orange framed backpack would hold my 1-man raft, lunch and other gear. My only real limit was how far I could ride and being home for homework and bed.

I don't know much about the rest of my line... old pic of my uncle Perry with a monster bass in Venezuela... and apparently he did some tree work that shows we are related to Tris Speaker but this thread isn't about baseball. I think there were some piscatorial minded folks, though, cuz it sure runs strong as far as I can tell. I'll do this as long as I can get mono through a hook eye!

Old Man

Just an Old Man
My dad was a soccer player when he was younger. I guess the fact of the matter was that he was born in England. He didn't fish and neither did any of my relatives. Where I picked it up from is anybody's guess. I've been playing around with fishing since I was about 10.That's 68 years. You would think that I would know something by now. Well, you would think so.

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
I come from a long line of hunter and fisher folks. My mom and dad went fishing to eastern Canada on their honeymoon. And my grandfather had me out catching frogs for him to use for pike when I was 3.

David Loy

Senior Moment
Fished salmon with Dad in Port Madison, Agate Pass, PNP and North Hood Canal. Way back he fly fished some but I picked up "the bug" on my own. No ancient history I'm aware of.


It's in my genes if I want it or not. I grew up in an outdoors family. My Dad was raised on a homestead in the Wallowa Mountains. He lived in a cabin my Grandfather and his relatives built in a meadow where native Americans gathered to exchange goods with other tribes before the whiteman showed up.

When Granddad would plow the field, my Dad and his six siblings would follow the horse- drawn plow and pick up arrow and spear heads. He kept the ones he found in shoe box. Many of the arrow and spear heads were made from black volcanic stones. As there are no volcanoes in NE Oregon it was obvious that the tribes all the way from the Cascades traded the rocks to the tribes in NE Oregon.

So, my heritage on my father's side is pioneers who hunted and fished to survive. They ate what they caught and killed. It wasn't for sport, it was for survival. So, all of my Dad's side of the family where hunters and anglers by default.

This is where it gets good and why my genes are a mix of hillbilly and wealth.

My Mother grew up in a small town in South Dakota. Her parents owned a trucking company and where quite wealthy. They owned the largest house in town and had a maid.

During WWII, my Dad joined the navy and was attending diesel school in Ames, Iowa.
My Mom was staying with an uncle who owned a taxicab business. Somehow, she met my Dad and as was common in those days, she married my Dad within two weeks of meeting him and when he shipped out.

He kind'a stretched the truth (that's where I get it) and told her he lived on a ranch in Oregon. Well... it was kind'a a ranch if you consider a log cabin a ranch.

After the war, they moved back to the Wallowas. Needless to say, she was a little shocked to see her new relatives drive up in an old truck after a hunting trip full of men with scraggly beards carrying rifles.

So, I'm half hillbilly and half upper class. Somehow, my Mom fit in and became an outdoors women... kind'a. When we'd go on camping, fishing, mushroom and blueberry excursions, she'd be wearing nice clothes and white tennis shoes. She never lost her class. The rest of us would be dressed in jeans, ragged shirts and wearing boots while Mom would be wearing a bright purple sweatshirt, grey slacks and those white tennis shoes. When the wind came up, she'd put on a colorful scarf.

If he liked you, my Granddad gave you a nickname. Mom's was "Hollywood". Mine was "Cowboy" (I tended to wear cowboy boots as a kid) and my younger brother's was "Sugarfoot" (which came from a western TV show my Granddad watched).

Thus, I grew up hunting, fishing, camping and looking for wild mushrooms and huckleberries. I thought that was how everyone was raised.

As a kid, I didn't really care for fishing. I was good at it but didn't find it all that interesting. I didn't like the taste of trout or venison so I didn't see the point.

It wasn't until I moved from NEO and to The Valley that I discovered fly fishing. I found out I didn't need to kill the fish and eat it, I could let them go. That's when I fell in love with fly fishing. It wasn't boring to me as angling was when I was a kid. I wasn't sitting there watching a bobber or getting my worm and weight hung up on the bottom of a river. Fly fishing was actually fun.

So my heritage is the outdoors hanging around moving or stillwaters. I'm half mountain man and flat lander. Hillbilly and class is who I am.

This is how I spent my childhood when it comes to fishing (my younger brother, shown in the photo, grew to six feet tall and is quite the athlete, which is also in my genes but that's a different story):



John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
Great old pics GAT.

My entire family loves to fish. You could say it has been the glue that binds us all together. My Grandfather on my Mom's side grew up in central Illinois. He fished for catfish and carp from the time he could stand. He owned a fish market that he won in a poker match at 12. I know, real Tom Sawyer stuff there. Him and I spent my entire childhood fishing the banks of Rife, Harts, Lawrence, Clear, and Alder lakes. To him fishing is very much a worm and lawn chair sport.

My Uncle Larry, my Father's brother, was somewhat of a local (Lewis County) well known figure. He fished the Cowlitz river and tied flies for a shop in Tacoma years ago. He knew the Cowlitz very well. He loved fly fishing and spent almost every day of his later life doing just that. Interesting story about my Uncle Larry and his family. Last year I was having Trudy shuttle me from Mission bar to Blue creek, and we got to talking about the old families in the valley. I asked her if she knew Larry Hicks and she busted out laughing.
"Of course I knew Larry. His boys used to come over and visit my girls all the time when they were kids."
It really is very neat how small our fishing community really is.

My father was an avid fisherman and would take me out fishing all the time. I remember when I was in grade school, if it was nice out, there was a good chance that my father would take me out of school. I would hear the PA system crackle to life, and the announcement for J.C. Hicks to come to the office. This almost always meant my father would be leaning up against our Ford Thunderbird in the parking lot, just waiting to take me fishing. Him and I would fish the Nysqually, and Deschutes as well as all the lakes in Thurston county. He would tell me stories of him and Uncle Larry on my uncle's fishing boat.

Most of my family fishes and most of them keep just about everything they catch. They are always a little puzzled as to why I release most all of the fish I catch. But we all can agree on one thing. There is nothing quite like a great fishing story. We all sit around and tell them whenever we get together.
I don't know a lot of details, but this painting hangs in my living room. It's of my great grandfather's stepdad in 1911. My great grandfather wasn't a big outdoorsman but I have his hunting license from 1926 and the 30-30 he used to shoot his only elk.
My dad has been an outdoorsman since he was a kid. Beyond him, I think earlier relatives did a little hunting and/or fishing, but not a whole lot.


I get it from my dad, who got it from his dad, who probably got it from his dad. Growing up in Hawaii I went on camping and fishing trips with my dad since I was only a few weeks old. I was baiting my own hooks on my bamboo handpole when I was 3 and could tie my own hooks by the time I was 5. My dad made sure I could do everything on my own at an early age so he could spend more time fishing. We mostly did catch and release fishing using light tackle.

I didn't start fly fishing until I came to Washington for college. My roomate in college had a fly rod so I picked up a cheap one from Fred Meyer and we started fishing the MF of the Snoqualmie.

Now I am working on passing the fishing tradition down to my kids. My son and one of my daughters love to go fishing whether we catch or not. I have a lot of great memories of fishing with my dad and I hope my kids will have similar memories when they get older.