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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : sports : local August 01, 2014

1/23/2014 6:01:00 AM
In the outdoors
86-year-old Prescott angler hooks 2 huge fish this month in Watson Lake
Prescott's Bob Park has his active hands in almost everything, so catching two big fish at Watson Lake this month just came naturally
Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierBob Park settles into his spot where he recently caught a 4 pound-20 1/2 inch Rainbow Trout at Watson Lake in Prescott.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Bob Park settles into his spot where he recently caught a 4 pound-20 1/2 inch Rainbow Trout at Watson Lake in Prescott.
Bob Park/CourtesyBob Park shared this pic of his Jan. 2 catch from Watson Lake, next to a hammer for perspective.
Bob Park/Courtesy
Bob Park shared this pic of his Jan. 2 catch from Watson Lake, next to a hammer for perspective.
Arizona State Fish Records
(Yavapai County anglers)

Inland Waters -- Hook and Line

Species: Bass, Rock

0 lb. 12.96 oz. 10.25 in., Upper Verde River

Eric Woolsey, Cottonwood 4/6/06

Species: Bluegill

3 lb. 15.68 oz. 15.75 in., Goldwater Lake

Christopher Ray Mapes, Prescott Valley 5/2/04

Species: Sunfish, Redear

3 lb. 9.0 oz. 14.5 in., Goldwater Lake

Jay Adkins, Prescott 8/12/93

Species: Trout, Brown

22 lb. 14.5 oz. 36.0 in., Reservation Lake*

Bryce Sisson, Prescott 8/6/99

Inland Waters -- Catch and Release

Species: Roundtail Chub

16 in., Verde River

Dave Wagner, Dewey 09/13/11

Inland Waters -- Non-Hook and Line

Species: Buffalo, Black (archery)

47 lb. 2.56 oz. 45 in. Apache Lake

Bryan Darnell, Dewey 3/19/05

* Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

SOURCE: Arizona Game & Fish (azgfd.gov)

By Ed Wisneski
Special to the Courier

"I've come to the conclusion," says 86-year-old Bob Park, "that as long as I keep moving, I'll keep moving."

The philosophy obviously works for him. Park keeps a schedule that would wear down most people half his age. He swims one-half mile three times a week and trains on upper body weight machines the other two days. In between his workouts, Park fishes at Watson Lake (where he caught a 20-½-inch rainbow trout on Jan. 2 and a 17-incher two weeks later), practices at the Granite Mountain Archery Club on Willow Road with his compound bow that shoots carbon fiber arrows 250-feet-per-second, and plays competitive bridge at the Adult Center of Prescott.

Park's home in Prescott is filled with evidence that he's still going strong. A colorful kaleidoscope of archery medals adorns one wall, including gold medals from the National Senior Olympics. "I'm now in the 85-89 age group. There's not much competition left," Park quips.

Across the room hangs a certificate of his lifetime trout fishing license from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. His wife Thea gave him a hard time when she found out it cost $300.

"I told her not to worry, it will pay for itself when I'm 88," Park recalls. "I'm 86 now so I think I'm going to make it."

A mounted 33 ½-inch, 14 ½-pound steelhead peers out above his fishing license. Park caught it in 1991 in Michigan where he worked as a chemist (he has a Ph.D from the University of Toronto) in research and development with Dow Chemical Company for 28 years. He grew up in Simcoe, Ontario, about 60 miles from Buffalo, and earned his undergraduate degree at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. ["I'm a member of the alumni association in Phoenix," Park says.] He moved to the United States in 1955, taught a couple of years at Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve) in Cleveland, and then began his career at Dow.

Park has a copy of the book he wrote in 1969, "Plastics Film Technology," the first on the subject available to the public. You can still buy it on Amazon for $45. While at Dow, Park developed 25 patents. The next time you buy a box of Saran Wrap, look for the small blue spot on the side of the package called "GRIP STRIP." After you've rolled out the amount of wrap you need, the end sticks to it so it's easy to unravel the roll the next time you use it. Park created that. Think of all the frustration his invention has prevented through the years!

In another spot on the crowded wall there's a large photo of his wife Thea on a sailboat they once owned. In April, she plans to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for the 15th time to celebrate her 80th birthday. Bob has done it three times.

"She's the hiker in the family," he says. "I just tag along."

Across the room a bright red sign stands out - "Bob Park for Senator." Running for political office is one activity Park has NOT done. The poster was from the campaign of the other Bob Park in the Prescott-area who ran against John McCain in 1998 as a Reform Party candidate.

"I get accused of writing the letters he sends to The Daily Courier," says Park, who occasionally submits his own opinions to the newspaper.

Two common traits in all of Park's successful endeavors have been patience and precision. Whether it's chemistry or fishing, he has always focused on details.

"I learned by watching good fishermen fish and copied them," Park says. "I will tell anyone interested how I go fishing. Some don't pay any attention. Those that do are successful. I know my way works.

"First you have to make sure the tension on your line is low," Park explains. "If there's much tension on the line, the fish will ignore it. Your sinker should move freely with little tension so the fish can mouth it [the hook] and swallow it. You don't have to haul the fish in right away. That's a sure way of losing it."

It took Park nearly an hour to land the steelhead mounted on his wall; for the 20 ½-inch rainbow trout he caught at Watson Lake, about 10 minutes ... once it bit. Park and his friend Johnny Valenzuela hadn't had any strikes for more than an hour and were ready to go home when he felt a tug and landed his beauty. After Park filleted it, he gave half to Valenzuela.

Park used spinning tackle, a long rod so he can cast farther, a six-pound line, a small number-18 treble hook, and fluorescent orange power bait called Gulp. The water temperature was 46 degrees (about nine degrees less than ideal). He likes to fish about 18 inches off the bottom because that's where the larger fish swim around.

Every summer, Park hits the road in search of the big ones. He and Thea head east 250 miles to Big Lake in Springerville where they camp for two weeks. His best catch was a five-pound, 22-inch rainbow. The wildlife in the area amazes Park.

"I've seen herds of more than 100 elk with their huge racks," says Park, who has also spotted deer, antelope, and wild turkeys.

Since 1995, the Parks have traveled to Ketchikan, Alaska, in mid-August for three weeks when the salmon run at their peak. One of his biggest catches was a 17 ½-pound Coho.

"There's a real delicacy in salmon that only fishermen know," Park says. "You cut off the belly while it's fresh, fry it, and it's just like candy."

When the weather gets too cold to fish in Prescott, the Parks participate in what's called duplicate bridge at the Prescott Adult Center. The American Contract Bridge League, which stages tournaments worldwide, sanctions the competition.

"It's something we can do together into our 90's," Park says.

If they keep moving at the same pace, it's highly likely they'll get there.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: All He Wants To Do Is Fish

by The Replacements. Classic song.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Coyote Contraire™

Pretty sure I read in the Courier that we and our dogs are forbidden from swimming in Watson because if its toxic nature. So does Bob Park feel pretty okay about chomping down a trout filet from the same cesspool, or will it just be heavily brushed with thermosetting polyester resin and trophied above the mantel on a varnished chunk of edge-routed walnut? "The Fish We Coulda Eat If We'd Wanna!", could be engraved on the little bronze plate just under Mr. Trout's belly.

Next time I stumble onto a (now rare in this area) horned toad he's gonna wind up as a proud plasticized dangler from my rear-view mirror. Should I not score that horny one, a dried cicada will suffice. Now THERE'S a trophy to make your spine sit up straight! "Caught me a bug, by damn!" scratched into his miniature tinfoil plaque.

Ahhh, life is good in the wilds of High Desert Arizona.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: the wino

I just knew there were whales in our local lakes.
Enjoy your Winnings.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Great story Bob Park. Keep it going. You are an inspiration.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: DragonMaster 6

A very nice article!

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