Father and Son Can Only Connect While Torturing Fish


BEMIDJI — Despite years of cohabitating, sharing meals and watching Vikings games together, Craig Nielsen, 58, and his son, Cody Nielsen, 27, can only truly connect while torturing fish. 

Craig inhaled the dewy air and gently patted his adult son on the back. “Nothing brings us together like sitting in silence in a canoe early in the morning, just waiting for the opportunity to put fish through a hellish ordeal,” said the elder Nielsen, as he readied his tackle box. “There is something about the air, the calm, and the fish writhing in pain, desperately trying to stay alive that just makes it easier to open up, you know?”

After half an hour of complete silence in which neither of the men communicated their feelings, Cody shared a similar sentiment, “Sure, we have dinner every Sunday night, go out to a few Gophers games together throughout the season, but it’s just not the same as piercing a fish through its lip, or sometimes it’s gill, and pulling it up by the hook”.

“Even when Mom died, sure Dad and I made all the funeral arrangements and gave her eulogy together, but I wouldn’t say we were connecting the same way we would if we were really just tormenting some walleyes.”

Nielsen paused before adding, “that’s healthy, right?”