When my older son, Caleb, was 5 I took him fishing on the first morning of kids only trout fishing where anything goes and you can keep fish. As we fished unsuccessfully and saw tons of kids with fish, my son tearfully said, “Dad, why can’t we catch any?” That day looking in my son’s sad eyes I decided I would learn how to catch fish and catch them well.
I had grown up fishing though not always all that successfully. My dad, grandpa, uncle, and other family had been pretty successful trout fishermen. I did all right as a kid, but for some reason I was always bored with using bait. Maybe it’s ADHD, but I can’t stand putting a line in the water and waiting forever until something happens. Of course that’s
more fun in moving water where you have to keep casting, but I still wasn’t patient with it. I always wanted to fly fish and knew that my great grandpa had done it, but he died when I was too young to learn from him. Fly fishing was in my blood, but I didn’t know how to do it. I started reading online, got books, and began with each birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, and etc. to amass the gear needed to catch fish with a fly rod. It was several years ago on a guided trip my wife gave me for a birthday where I really learned to catch fish on the fly (after I watched my wife land an 18 inch brown trout)!
Recently on a trip to Colorado, I had the pleasure of some very successful family fishing. One night my ten year old son, Caleb, my wife, and I went for a walk one evening on the Uncompahgre River in Ridgway State Park where we were camping. As we got back toward our campsite, I noticed a large trout rising, and the the three of us watched excitedly as it sipped in one bug after another. After I told my wife how I would catch it if I had my rod with me, she said with a wry smile, “Go get your rod and come back for it!”
We rushed back to camp where Caleb and I rigged up to go back to try to catch that big fish where Caleb acted as my camera man. I quickly tied on a #16 Adams and began casting near where I could see the large fish continue sipping bugs. Rather quickly my fly was slammed by that trout. It fought like crazy, and my son kept giving me directions excitedly as I worked to land this feisty 18 inch plus trout (it was a Snake River Cutthroat). I had a too small net which was awkward (my nicer net wouldn’t fit in my airplane carry-on suitcase). As I tried to net the fish without knocking the hook out of the fish’s mouth, I very stupidly grabbed the line with my hand and that brute loudly snapped the line in a fraction of second! I was shaking vigorously as I tied on my next fly to cast to the other fish wildly gulping bugs down behind me. I did land a few 12-14 inch rainbows, but none had me shaking like that big fish. The Great Horned Owl that landed in the tree across the stream was an added excitement before we headed back to camp. Whew! My son and I had a blast walking back to camp discussing the events of the evening and looking through the pictures he took.
The next evening with my wife and both sons watching, I was able to land a 16+ inch Snake River Cutthroat, and that was a memory that will stick with me almost as much as seeing her land her 14+ inch rainbow. Both of my sons are happy that I’ve learned to fish, and we have so much fun as a family fishing for all sorts of fish…mostly with a fly rod. The kids’ only trout fishing mornings are now anticipated all year by both of my boys since they catch so many fish as we make family fishing memories.