Does He Have the Fishing Gene - Part Two
(See part I
The following morning I woke up as the sun began to shine through the window. I looked at my watch. Yuck! 7am. It was too late. I couldn’t go back to sleep so I lay there going over my plan for the day of horseback riding. Do we get them up early and eat breakfast or let them rise on their own and have hot cocoa and doughnuts at the Rainbow
? Doughnuts sounded good. So it was settled.
I got up and went to grab some coffee at the Rainbow. Ed and Jeannie were there. A cute married couple that has been running the lodge since before I started coming to Montana 10 years ago. They have a way of making you feel at home and part of their extended family.
With a few sips of coffee in me and a doughnut in hand, I walked over to Ed to see how the fishing had been. The Salmonfly hatch had basically come and gone and it wasn’t all that this year. The fishing was currently just “okay.” Translation – it’s been tough out there.
There was that feeling again in my stomach. The one required ingredient of getting the fishing gene was catching fish. I thanked Ed for the information and headed back to our room, grabbed my computer, and did a little light reading while I waited for the day to start.
One by one they all started waking up, like rising fish. After discussing our time to leave, I walked the kids down to the front desk for some breakfast. As a parent, I typically am preaching about nutrition to Ethan so I think he was shocked to learn hot cocoa and doughnuts were on the menu.
After breakfast we headed out. In typical Ennis
fashion the directions for the meeting spot were like, “turn right after the big tree on to the dirt road with the fork in it.” I really wish they would learn how to give GPS coordinates. After a couple of missteps, we arrived at our meeting spot a few minutes early. We got out of the cars to stretch our legs when this large pickup truck and trailer with a real cowboy behind the wheel pulls up, window roles down, and we hear, “Howdy, I’m Jeff.“ We exchange courtesies then proceed to head up the mountain in our cars till we reach the first lake.
We all unpacked out of our cars and gathered our things. You could see the kids were excited. Jeff had three small herding dogs that ran around and played with the kids.
Ethan has a special connection with animals. He loves them all, but especially dogs. He and Spencer kept themselves preoccupied with the dogs as Jeff started unloading the horses from the trailer. One by one he brought these fine animals out. It had been a while since I had ridden a horse and I remember looking at them thinking, “this should be fun, and a nice practice run for my South Fork of the Flathead Fishing trip later this year.”
After we were all ready to go, we each mounted our horses. My horse was named Buddy and he was a friendly, blondish horse with a very calm disposition. Jeff gave us some basic instruction on riding horses and then off we went.
We slowly navigated up the mountain. Ethan had this big grin on his face as he road up the hill. You could tell that this was a big deal for him. He was very happy. As we passed the first Axolotl lake, I wondered, “was that the lake where we saw the large school of cutthroat
the first year I visited Ennis? I wish I had my fly rod and a float tube with me and an hour or so in that lake.”
As we passed the second lake, you could tell everyone was having a good time. The boys would take turns leading the pack with the rest of us following close behind. We finally saw the lake that had the big cutthroat trout. I pointed it out to Alex and he gave me a big smile. I moved up the pack to tell Ethan about the big fish we saw in that lake so many years before but he really did not seem that interested. That feeling came back again. “Is he going to like fishing? I hope so.”
Once we reached the top of the mountain we stopped for what Jeff called “snacks.” We dismounted our horses and witnessed God’s Country in all its glory. What a view. We sat down on some rocks and ate. “Snacks” included beef jerky, fruit, nuts beverages, and cookies - a complete meal for me. The boys sat next to me while we ate. They were obviously having a good time as they played around while eating. I asked Ethan how the trip was so far, and he said he loved it. That was a good sign.
The second half of the trip was definitely more advanced as we navigated between trees and branches descending the mountain. We followed along the small trail that followed the edge of the other lakes looking carefully to see if we could spot any of the Axolotl salamanders by the lakes, but did not see any.
At one point, Sharad’s horse decided that he had enough and just stopped. The kids were busting up as Sharad is a big guy and it looked like his horse was just too tired to continue. He tried to get XYZ going again but to no avail. Finally Jeff circled back, and was able to get her going again.
Eventually, the landmarks looked familiar again as we road back, getting closer and closer to the cars. My backside was beginning to get a bit sore from the 3-4 hours of riding. I remember wondering how I was going to do on the ride to the South Fork of the Flathead
. That trip will be 7 hours!
We reached the trailhead at about the right time. The kids were just about done and the adults were starting to get sore. I dismounted my horse by the trailer and opened the car. Ethan came up to me and gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you Daddy. That was awesome.” That was all I needed to hear. Perfect!
As we gathered our things and loaded up the car, Alex and I looked at each other and had the same thought: I bet the kids are done for the day, and it’s only 3pm. Maybe we could sneak out for a couple hours of fishing alone. We got into our cars and headed back to the Rainbow.
My tired body became energized as I thought about fishing. I ran the schedule through my head. Drop the kids off at 3:30pm. Pack up the gear by 4. Be on the water my 4:30. I called Alex while in the car and we coordinated our plan.
Alex recommended Ennis campground
. It was just a few minutes away from the Rainbow and it had some good wade fishing. We agreed on logistics and set the wheels in motion. I asked if anyone wanted to join us, knowing they were all zonked from the late night followed by a day of horseback riding. Sharad offered to take care of meals for the kids. What a nice gesture!
We arrived at the Rainbow and unpacked the kids. Alex and I quickly gathered our gear, packed the car and off we went.
Next - Part III