During a week where I failed to land a trout on two different outings, my sister’s question regarding why I am infatuated with fishing caused me a moment of pause and reflection. Her entire life she has known me as her brother who loves to hunt, so why this devotion to fly fishing as I’ve gotten older?
Truth is if I could only pick one hobby it would be western spot and stalk hunting, but since that is 1500 miles away and I only get to do it one week out of the year, pursuing trout with a fly is the best way I know to pass the other 51 weeks.
I wasn’t sure I could explain to her in words why I love to fly fish, so I took out my phone and started showing her pictures. Pictures of mountain streams cascading over rocks with rhododendrons overhanging the sides. Pictures of wild rainbows in a landing net with hues of green and silver and red. Pictures of cold water brook trout in their brilliance of orange and spots of red and blue. Pictures of friends high-sticking a seem below a beautiful cascade. Pictures of meadows below over-shadowing mountains with no one around but me. Pictures of tiny but beautiful little flies in a vice, and then in the corner of a trout’s mouth. Pictures of my family standing in a stream fishing or holding up a prized catch. As I scrolled through the pictures her mind turned from questions to answers as she provided the commentary of appreciation of the beauty and tranquility each picture held.
But this was only part of the story of why we fish. The best answer came not from me, but from her children.
Her kids showed up at my house with new Zebco’s, bobbers, hooks, and eggs. They were excited to fish with Uncle Blaine. Doing my best to over-complicate things, before I took them fishing I thought I’d show them we could catch a fish on something we could make ourselves. Unable to find my materials for poppers, I cut a wine cork in half, whittled it down with a pocket knife, added some hackle and a tail, and whala’ … makeshift popper. We headed for a pond next to my house and it didn’t take long for my Neice to land her first fish via a fly rod.
The next day the lure of choice became the undisputed champion of all fishing – The Common Earthworm. It didn’t take long before I found myself as the referee of a fishing derby between my nephews. The final score was 17 to 12 and they landed bluegill, bass, crappie, and a single catfish. I told them they caught more fish in two hours than I have caught all year.
I awoke Sunday morning with my five year old nephew standing at my footboard staring at me. “Are we going fishing today?”
So, while I was supposed to be cooking pancakes we headed back to the pond to finish off the worms.
By the time the fish quit biting the pancakes were ready. Just in time for a pancake eating contest.
After breakfast my nephew kept talking about fishing. My sister looked at him and asked “Why do you like fishing so much?”
“I like watching the bobber go under” he aptly responded. And as he explained to me “that is when the line gets heavy.”
Well said little guy. We like to fish because the fish are there, just beneath the surface. And when the bobber, or the fly, goes under…. that is when the line gets heavy.
We all need to spend more time with kids fishing. Turn off the news, leave the electronics at home, and find some water. It will fill your heart, and theirs, with absolute joy.