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Note: This is the first installment of our "TODAY's Anchor Chat" special series. Every week, we'll feature a blog post from one of our anchors, giving some insight into their lives both on and off the camera. Today we begin with Matt Lauer, and next week, we'll check in with Meredith Vieira.
Remember when you got back to school from summer vacation, and your teacher had you write the classic essay, "What I Did on My Summer Vacation"? Well, today, I'm the teacher and Matt Lauer is the student. But I took it easy on him -- instead of making him write an essay, we did a Q&A:
Q: So Labor Day has come and gone, we're headed towards fall and summer is in the rearview mirror. Anything in particular stick out for you from your summer?
ML: After years of resisting, I finally relented and my family and I got a boat. Not a big boat. It's definitely a beginner boat. I thought it was going to be a time-consuming nightmare to have a boat, but it turned out to be the home run of the summer. We got an enormous amount of use for it. We went on picnics, went tubing, fishing, just had a lot of fun with it.
Matt was pretty excited when he made his first catch, a 7-inch sunfish...
Q: How big is it?
ML: It's a 19-foot Boston Whaler. Definitely a beginner boat.
Q: You say you resisted getting one -- who was putting on the pressure?
ML: My wife has been saying that it would be fun for the kids. I just thought it would be one more toy we didn't need, that you would take the boat out and be gone for half a day, then spend time cleaning it up and dealing with all sorts of things. But it turned out to be the kind of thing that could just be a brief diversion.
Q: Was fishing the best part?
ML: One thing you have to understand about me is that outside of my family and my work, I have two passions, both instilled in me by my father: golf and fishing.
My dad loved golf, and some of my best memories from being a kid are from spending four or five hours with him on the course. And that's probably why I love the game so much myself, that I have so many great memories of being with my dad.
We also used to do a lot of freshwater fishing, which we both loved. Now, I had already passed along golf to my son, Jack, who is six. He's hit some balls -- he hasn't played a game yet -- but he's eager and he loves it.
Once we had this boat, Jack said to me, "Papa, can we go fishing?" So I went out and got the rods we'd need so we could have our first fishing adventure together.
Now, everyone wants to achieve the "American Dream," and an important part of that is having kids and being able to give your offspring the chance to achieve it and even outshine you.
...but that was nothing compared to his son's first fish, a 20-inch striped bass.
So the morning of our fishing outing, I went in to Jack's room to wake him up around 5:15 a.m. I think he was already half-dressed, he was so excited to go. We were on the water by 5:30, and it was a beautiful morning on the bay.
We took the boat out to an area where I knew there would be good fishing. I would cast and he would reel (I didn't want to end up with a hook in my ear). Within about 10 minutes, we got a massive hit. I got the fish hooked and handed him the rod, and it was great to see this 6-year-old, 40-something-pound kid struggle with a 7-foot fishing rod and a fish on the other end.
We got the fish -- which was a striped bass -- into the boat, and he was literally leaping out of his life vest with excitement. I took out my BlackBerry to take a photo, but he refused to touch the fish. I had to explain to him that there was no way we weren't taking a photo of him with that fish.
Eventually, he agreed, and it's one of my favorite photos of him. Then we released fish, so I was able to give him a lesson in catch and release.
One major difference between when I caught my first fish and when he caught his, was that I was able to take a photo of him on the boat, email it to his mother (my wife), his grandmother, and about four other people at 6 a.m. By 6:15, I've got responses from all these people who were immediately able to share in this experience with him.
My first catch was a 7-inch sunfish. I never suspected that his first one would be a 20-inch striped bass. We all want things to be better for our kids, but did he really have to outshine me by that much? I'm a little afraid that everything from now on will be a letdown for him!
But it was great to be able to pass on this passion from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, my father is no longer with us, and I wish he could have been there on that boat. But I can only hope that my son will be on a boat with his child someday, passing the passion along again. And I pray I'll be with them on that boat too.