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Butler area father, son bond over passion for fishing

REELING IN THE GOOD TIMES

It’s a good bet that this Father’s Day, and on many over the last 20-plus years, Steve and Garett Goslaw could be found wetting a line together.

When they’re not tending to customers at Robert Stephens Jewelers on Butler’s Main Street, the father/son duo compete against other anglers at various bass tournaments in the region.

The men have competed in around 100 tournaments together, and won or placed in their share.

Steve said he first took Garett fishing at a neighbor’s pond in Summit Township when the lad was 4 or 5 years old.

“He took right to it,” Steve said.

Steve Goslaw, left, and his son, Garett, pose with their catch at a recent bass tournament. Submitted Photo

They fished together less while Garett, now 27, pursued high school sports, but luckily, he continued his love for fishing after graduation.

“During college, I started fishing a lot more because I went to Clarion, and the river is right there,” Garett said. “I would invite Dad to come up.”

He played baseball for two years for the Clarion Golden Eagles while pursuing his bachelor’s degree and fishing when he could.

“The year I quit playing, Dad bought a boat,” Garett said.

The fishing vessel was docked along the Clarion River, and Steve would make the trip north to fish with his son as often as possible.

Their first bass tournament was in 2019 in Oil City, Venango County, where they caught their limit while many other anglers seemed to be having a rough day on the water.

“We saw other people put their boats on the trailer and leave early,” Steve said.

They also were successful at a 2021 Father’s Day tournament off Presque Isle in Lake Erie, which is still the biggest tournament they have competed in.

Stephen Goslaw, left, and his son, Garett, at their Butler business, Robert Stephens Custom Jewelers The father/son duo also compete together in fishing tournaments. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

“We had a little boat and everyone had pro bass boats, and we ended up getting third place,” Steve said.

Steve said he and his son were proud to place in a tournament that included professional bass fishermen who have their own TV shows.

He explained that teams are permitted to keep five fish, and their total weight determines the winners.

The Goslaws just kept reeling in bigger and bigger fish, and releasing the smaller ones back into the lake.

“I thought we would be in the top 20 or something,” Steve recalled.

They were thrilled to place third in the competition.

The duo said the furthest tournament venues they have competed in were Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County, Kinzua Dam in Warren County, and Lake Erie.

Garett even purchased and stripped down a boat, then added an aluminum deck and other features to make the craft conducive to fishing horsepower-restricted lakes.

He used advice offered by his dad while outfitting the boat.

Steve recently bought a 20-foot Ranger with a 150 horsepower engine to fish in rivers and unrestricted bodies of water.

One amusing fact regarding the Goslaws’ penchant for fishing is that they do not eat bass.

Garett has never tasted it and Steve said he might have had it when he was young, as his grandfather liked to fish and believed in consuming his catches.

They explained that all bass tournaments are catch-and-release.

“If we’re hungry, we’ll go walleye fishing in Erie,” Steve said.

The Goslaws also fish Lake Arthur each Wednesday evening in the summer with Butler Bass Casters.

Steve Goslaw, left, and his son, Garett, pose with their third-place plaques on Father's Day 2021, when they beat out many other anglers at a bass tournament on Lake Erie. Submitted Photo
Longtime partners

The Goslaws say communication is huge in tournament fishing.

“We bounce things off each other,” Steve said. “We just enjoy being out there.”

Garett agrees.

“Sometimes it’s not getting too technical and just having fun with it,” he said.

Garett said he always enjoys fishing with his dad and will continue to do so as long as possible.

“I grew up with him,” he said. “Some people, you’re out there an hour and that’s all you can take of them.”

Steve said he feels he and Garett have been successful at tournaments and with Butler Bass Casters because Steve shares information with Garett from his decades of experience, and Garett shares new gadgets and concepts with his father.

“And you have to be good at getting lucky,” Garett said.

Steve recalled one night on Lake Arthur when he and Garett caught 17 fish while many others didn’t get a nibble.

“The lake will humble you,” he said.

He said last year, the pair won a Wednesday night Bass Casters tournament.

“It’s been fun,” Garett said of fishing with his dad. “We’ve had better success than a lot of people have.”

He said his dad has taught him to be calm and patient while fishing instead of getting upset when the fish aren’t biting.

“Things might work out in the end,” Garett said.

“One time, he was so mad … and we won that night,” Steve recalled.

He said it has been extremely fun to fish with Garett over the years.

“We work together every day, so most people who work with family are probably ready to kill them by the end of the day,” Steve said.

Garett said he sees a lot of young men competing in tournaments with their friends and their fathers competing with their friends as well.

“They fish against each other,” he said, shaking his head.

Steve appreciates fishing with his only son, and occasionally, with his daughter, Brittany, who also works full time at the jewelry store.

“I feel pretty blessed to be able to spend time with my kids,” he said. “I’m a pretty lucky dad.”

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