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Catching Memories: A Boy and His Dad Bond on the Pond

  • Doug Withington attaches “creepers” to his son Cole’s boots while out with five or six other families at Deweys Pond. Creepers help give traction while walking on ice, much the way cleats do on a soccer field. Withington has been taking Cole ice fishing since he was 3, when the boy caught his very first fish. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Doug Withington attaches “creepers” to his son Cole’s boots while out with five or six other families at Deweys Pond. Creepers help give traction while walking on ice, much the way cleats do on a soccer field. Withington has been taking Cole ice fishing since he was 3, when the boy caught his very first fish. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cole Withington, 7, of North Hartland, attaches bait to his line at Deweys Pond in Quechee. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Cole Withington, 7, of North Hartland, attaches bait to his line at Deweys Pond in Quechee. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Doug Withington helps Cole change from hockey skates to snow boots at Deweys Pond. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Doug Withington helps Cole change from hockey skates to snow boots at Deweys Pond. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Doug Withington rubs Cole’s head as Cole bites into a snack at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Doug Withington rubs Cole’s head as Cole bites into a snack at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cole Withington sprints toward a flagged ice hole at Deweys Pond. When the flag is triggered upright, there may be a fish on the line. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Cole Withington sprints toward a flagged ice hole at Deweys Pond. When the flag is triggered upright, there may be a fish on the line. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Doug Withington, of North Hartland, drills a fresh hole in the ice at Evarts Pond in Windsor while out fishing with his son, Cole, 7. The two spend a lot of hours on the ice this time of year. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Doug Withington, of North Hartland, drills a fresh hole in the ice at Evarts Pond in Windsor while out fishing with his son, Cole, 7. The two spend a lot of hours on the ice this time of year. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cole Withington of North Hartland, Vt., 7, bounces, or "jigs" his line in an ice hole at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Cole Withington of North Hartland, Vt., 7, bounces, or "jigs" his line in an ice hole at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Doug Withington attaches “creepers” to his son Cole’s boots while out with five or six other families at Deweys Pond. Creepers help give traction while walking on ice, much the way cleats do on a soccer field. Withington has been taking Cole ice fishing since he was 3, when the boy caught his very first fish. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Cole Withington, 7, of North Hartland, attaches bait to his line at Deweys Pond in Quechee. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Doug Withington helps Cole change from hockey skates to snow boots at Deweys Pond. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Doug Withington rubs Cole’s head as Cole bites into a snack at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Cole Withington sprints toward a flagged ice hole at Deweys Pond. When the flag is triggered upright, there may be a fish on the line. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Doug Withington, of North Hartland, drills a fresh hole in the ice at Evarts Pond in Windsor while out fishing with his son, Cole, 7. The two spend a lot of hours on the ice this time of year. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Cole Withington of North Hartland, Vt., 7, bounces, or "jigs" his line in an ice hole at Evarts Pond in Windsor. (Valley News - Libby March)

Hartland — Lunch, some tipups and a carton of shiners are all the ingredients Doug Withington and his son Cole, 7, need to keep them happy on the ice.

Winter weekends find them dropping lines in local ponds, sometimes for nine hours at a time.

“We have a blast out there together,” said Withington, a technical service engineer at Hypertherm. “He’s been into it all along. I’m very lucky.”

Growing up, Withington often fished with his grandfather. But it wasn’t until his in-laws introduced him to the sport that he got into ice fishing.

He and Cole have been fishing together since Cole was 3, and their outings have led to a new tradition. Cole loves venison sausage, so on Sundays they cook “a whole bunch” of the meat in the solar-powered shanty Withington built on Deweys Pond in Quechee.

They spend the days checking their tipups and chipping out the holes, which can ice up pretty quickly in frigid weather. They throw back almost everything they catch but hold on to the memories.

An avid hunter, Withington keeps a photo album he calls “the book of the dead.”

For years, it was filled with pictures of turkeys, deer and other game he had shot, he said. “Now, they are all pictures of Cole catching fish.”

Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.