New Castle News

June 16, 2013

Father’s Day 2013: With Dad turning 90, Presnars wade through streams of special fishing memories

Greg Huston
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — When John Presnar was born in New Castle in 1923, few could have guessed that 90 years later, he’d still be fishing for trout in local streams.

Even fewer would have imagined that John’s two sons, Mark and John Jr., would accompany him each opening day for the past 50 years. But that’s been the father-son tradition established by the Presnar family, who saw John Sr. turn 90 last week.

John Presnar’s first son, Mark, was born in 1952 and it wasn’t long before the two of them were wading the currents of Neshannock Creek and Big Run fishing for trout. John Jr. was born in 1960 and soon, a father and his two sons had established a lifetime tradition. That tradition has been passed on to the next generation as well, as Mark’s son, Andrew, fly fishes the streams of Montana, where he now lives.

Opening day of trout has a mystical quality as the season’s first fishermen wade into the creeks of naturally running water and the first beams of sunlight peek through the trees. As anglers jockey for their favorite spot on the creek, it’s hard to imagine a more serene environment for a father and son to bond with each other and nature.

Mark Presnar, now 61 and living near Toledo, makes the trek home to New Castle each spring to join his father and brother in the local streams. His early days at the creek were long ago, but still fresh in his mind.

“For some reason, it seemed I would always fall in the stream and be super cold on the opening day. The only thing that saved me were the extra clothes I would stash in the car,” he recalled.

Even though the tradition started with father and son, it wasn’t long before John Sr.’s wife, Eleanor, got into the mix to aid her older son in what would become his life’s passion.

“My mother would always take me fishing when I was in junior high school. I remember her taking me to the German Club or Jack Gerson’s on the Neshannock Creek and then picking me up at the Papermill Bridge eight hours later,” Mark related.

“Mom would then prepare us a fresh trout dinner. All of my dad’s friends still remind him how lucky he is to have married a woman like my mom.”

The family tradition has been passed down through the years to Mark’s son, Andrew, who is now 24. Andrew recently graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in forestry, biology and natural sciences. Mark taught his son the art of fly fishing at age 7 and Andrew never looked back.  

“I still wish I had his casting technique,” Mark said.

While all three Presnar men have advanced in age, their enthusiasm for the creek has never waned.

“The guy still has lots of energy and hopes the Lord will continue to give him the energy to fish on these beautiful trout streams,” Mark said of his father.  

“Oh, I missed a big one,” is one of John Sr.’s favorite quotes on the creek.

However, another thing is certain — the elder Presnar never missed a chance to bond with his sons doing what they love.

"Just getting out on a boat or in the creek, it meant everything to me," he said.

On this Father’s Day, remember the Presnars and the tradition they started. While luck may decide whether you catch the big one, nothing can stop you from catching a game or just visiting with your dad.

Like John Presnar Sr., he’ll be happy you stopped by.