Fishing Adventures with President Monson

Many people know of Pres. Monson’s cabin up Provo Canyon at Vivian Park. His son, Clark Monson, reminisces about this on the pages of BYU Studies in “Rod Tip Up!” Kurt Manwaring talked with Monson about the essay.

“When I was young, my family and relatives spent considerable time during summers at the family cabin in Vivian Park, Provo Canyon. Dad spent mornings and evenings fishing the Provo River. If we wanted to know where he was, we just walked the short distance from our cabin to the Vivian Park bridge. We could almost always see him fishing, mid-river, within a few hundred yards upstream or downstream of the bridge.

It became a habit for my family and relatives to look for Dad whenever we happened to walk or drive across the bridge.

If he was within shouting distance of the bridge, we’d call out to him and wave. He’d wave back. If we were driving across the bridge, we’d honk, and he’d look, recognize the car and wave to us.

His figure was a regular presence on the river.”

“I had started writing down some fishing memories with my Dad that I wanted to include in an essay. And 18 days after Dad died one of my former BYU geography professors, Alan Grey, passed away.

Following Alan’s funeral, I was introduced to a friend of the Grey family. I shook his hand and he asked me if Thomas Monson was my father. When I said “yes,” he briefly told me how he had met my dad on the Provo River many years previously.

He said he wasn’t a member of the Church at the time, but he must have been very familiar with the Church in order to recognize my dad in waders and fishing clothes. He said he had some questions about the church he was hoping Dad could answer.

Whatever my dad told him must have made an impression because he said that afterwards he knew he needed to be baptized. “That conversation with your father on the Provo River,” he said, “changed my life.”

I knew bits and pieces of similar stories people had experienced with my dad on the river, but when I heard this one, I knew I needed to include it in my essay.

My comment that Dad didn’t mind a pause from fishing to change a life but that he was reluctant to stop fishing when it was time to eat was based on many experiences.

Dad was almost always late to return from the river to the cabin when breakfast was ready to be served. And it wasn’t just my family that was waiting for him. Usually my dad’s brother’s family was also with us at the cabin. So, a lot of people would be waiting for his return, but it was hard for him to leave the river unless he had caught his limit of eight fish.

He just loved being on the river.

And part of the attraction of the river was that it connected Dad to his youth, when he was able to fish every day during the summer.”

Read the full interview at 10 Questions. There’s lots more fishing stories.

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