In the past few years I’ve had the joy of witnessing many people catch their first fish on a fly rod. It’s something that never gets old; sharing in the pure and simple joy of a new experience. Last week I had the great pleasure of watching one more person catch their first fish on a fly rod. This one I will never forget as the lucky angler was someone quite special, my mother Krista.
Mom and Dad arrived late in the afternoon last Sunday. I’ve taken Dad fishing a few times but had not yet had the chance to get Mom in full wader and boot regalia fly rod in hand. We were blessed with perfect fall weather on Monday and both parents were gung-ho to get on some fish. After picking up the necessary gear at Headwaters we headed up to our private water on the North Fork. Mom, having never cast a fly rod, was more than willing to participate in a brief casting demonstration in the field before attaching any sharp hooks. As I’ve found with most ladies she was a great listener and quickly picked up the basics. Dad opted out of the casting lesson and hastily made his way to the stream. We soon joined him and I focused most of my attention on helping Mom improve her casting and frequently reminding her when she sees the strike, set the hook downstream. It didn’t take long before she had the opportunity to put these skills to the test. The indicator disappeared and she did everything perfectly, easily bringing in a small wild rainbow. Many folks might scoff at a six inch fish but Krista was thrilled. We examined the beautiful color patterns and released it back to the stream. Smiles all around.
As we made our way upstream picking up fish here and there a great irony occurred to me. There was once a time in my life when I would briefly fiddle with a knot in my line or bird’s nest on my reel and then simply pass it over to Dad. As a young boy I feel like they got more joy out of watching me catch fish than catching fish themselves. Now the roles are reversed. I happily untangled and tied all the knots, pulled flies out of trees, and netted and unhooked fish. I left my rod in the car in hopes of helping them catch fish and not worrying about catching any myself. After putting up with me for all those years I feel like it’s the least I can do. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m a lucky guy. I have a great family that supports me despite the fact that I’m not exactly putting together a great stock portfolio or building a solid 401k. They’re happy that I’m happy with what I do and that’s the most important thing to them. A significant moment of confirmation occurred when my Dad turned and said to me, “Ryan, I can see why you love the river.”