Father-and-son fishing later in life with the Esquivels

Fernando Esquivel and his dad, Guilo Sr., have taken father-and-son weekend fishing to other levels of life.

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On one of their most far flung father-and-son trips, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. hold a 121-pound Wels catfish from the Ebro River in Spain. Provided

On one of their most far flung father-and-son trips, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. hold a 121-pound Wels catfish from the Ebro River in Spain.

Provided

When Fernando Esquivel talks about catfish, especially really big catfish, the Spanish word “sirulo” comes alive.

About eight years ago, he started fishing on weekends, mostly Sundays, with his dad Guilo Esquivel Sr.

“If we check the weather and it is not a good day, we go on Saturday,” Fernando said.

So far, the most far-flug trip was this spring.

“I took the bullet, went to Spain, the Ebro River; they have been known for the massive Wels catfish, sirulo,” Fernando said. “We were literally on the river for five days. On the second day, I landed a 120-pounder. On the fourth day, I couldn’t make this up, he caught a 121-pounder. We hired a guide and he could not believe it.”

Too many of us have a Norman Rockwellian concept of fathers and sons fishing. Reality is usually more complex.

Stan Mietus tipped me to their weekend fishing. I met Mietus, former soccer coach at Kelly College Prep, nearly 30 years ago when the Trojans made an improbable run at state in boys soccer.

“My father-in-law comes home with a big smile,” Mietus said. ``You should see the smiles on them.”

Joy is a miraculous thing.

“Our relationship improved,” Fernando said. “It is possible to have your dad as a friend as well as a dad. I suggest that to anyone. If you are doing the right thing, it is a really nice thing.”

Guilo Esquivel Sr. holds an alligator gar from Trinity River in Texas. Provided

Guilo Esquivel Sr. holds an alligator gar from Trinity River in Texas.

Provided

Guilo, 74, was caught fast.

“It took one time with a fish on a rod and he was hooked,” Fernando said. “It was a catfish, fishing at Spring Valley on the Illinois River.”

Another reason for Fernando to like catfish.

“My favorite fish is catfish,” he said. “If you ask me, they are very challenging if targeting a certain catfish. You can catch them all day if looking for small channel catfish. But if you are targeting something trophy sized, they are really tricky.”

That Guilo would pick up fishing quickly, isn’t surprising.

“He is good in fishing, he is very handy,” Fernando said. “He used to be in construction down in Mexico. Every time I have a project, he can do anything. He is very hands on with construction.”

Their family came here 40 years ago when Fernando, born in Mexico City, was 7. Fernando is handy too, he’s a mechanic.

“My Dad and I developed this, I don’t know what to call it, but we fish rivers,” he said. “We go to rivers. You never know what you are going to catch.”

They’ve fished the Illinois, Fox, Des Plaines, Rock, Kankakee and Mississippi rivers and have pushed out to Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin and Spain.

Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. with gar from Trinity River in Texas. Provided photo

Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. with gar from Trinity River in Texas.

Provided

“We’re fishing the Mississippi right now, trying to catch a big blue catfish,” Fernando said.

They fish around “Alton, home of the big blues. We have had them on the line. It is heavy duty fishing. Our next goal is catch a big blue, so any chance we get, we go.”

One world record that briefly came from Illinois was the 124-pound blue caught near Alton May 21, 2005 by Tim Pruitt.

So far Guilo has the lead with a 44-pound blue.

“Surprising, he has got me on the personal bests,” said Fernando, the fisherman in a family that includes two brothers and three sisters.

On their latest father-and-son quest, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. hold a 44-pound blue catfish from the Mississippi River. Provided

On their latest father-and-son quest, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. hold a 44-pound blue catfish from the Mississippi River.

Provided

“My dad used to take me fishing, drop me off and I would fish with my friends,” Fernando. “I fished at McKinley Park on Archer or on LaGrange Road, north of I-55 there was a little pond we fished as kids.”

Fernando fished less as he grew older, married, played in a band and opened a business. Now his fishing includes major saltwater action. But freshwater is what he and his dad prefer.

“We don’t discriminate, but we enjoy fishing for bottom feeders like catfish,” Fernando said. “He caught a sturgeon on the Wolf River. We don’t keep any fish unless a neighbor asks for a catfish. We go carp fishing, sometimes for pike on the Des Plaines.

“Honestly, I think what it is [about rivers is] that you can just walk and hit different spots. It has gotten to a point now that we are after the river monsters.”

On one of their father-and-son fishing trips, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. with a sturgeon from the Wolf River in Wisconsin. Provided

On one of their father-and-son fishing trips, Fernando and Guilo Esquivel Sr. with a sturgeon from the Wolf River in Wisconsin.

Provided

So far Wels catfish and Guilo’s sturgeon are their favorite catches.

“You see [sturgeon] and they are just beautiful, like a living dinosaur,” Fernando said.

The bottom line isn’t about the fish, as Fernando said, “Fishing brings friends and people together, it is amazing, I swear.”

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