Does He Have the Fishing Gene Part IV
(See Part I
, Part II
, and Part III
Knowing that we needed to get up early, we decided to prep and pack that evening. We loaded the car with fly rods, backpacks, water, etc. The boys came over and gave a hand. We had them start thinking of the things they need for tomorrow. Sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, hat, etc.
I handed Ethan some fishing pants and shirt. Ethan at 12 is the same height as me. Nice for providing second-hand fishing clothes. He looked at me perplexed. I explained that these were designed for fishing. That they could get wet and dry quickly, that it covered your body so you didn’t get beat by the sun. I then showed him how to unzip the pant leg to make shorts. He got a big kick out of that. I helped him understand the layers for the fishing trip. How it was going to be cold in the morning, and hot in the afternoon, and how to remove one layer at a time to stay comfortable and the need for constant use of sunscreen and lip balm.
I went on to explain the plan for the fishing trip. Spencer and Ethan were going to share the boat with Sharad, and Eric was going to be their instructor. I explained that Eric was going to show him a few things ahead of time and it was going to be easy to get started. He listened intently, paying close attention to the details. He is always like that, understanding the more nuanced details. He asked a few good questions and then the conversation ended. It was time to slow things down for bed.
We got the kids prepped for bed. Brush your teeth, PJ’s on, retainer, kiss goodnight. Lights went out about 9pm. It was a full day. They didn’t know it, but they were tired. It didn’t take long before the idle chit-chat between the boys ended. I lay there thinking about the day. It was great. We all had so much fun. Alex and I even got to fish a little. I hoped we could top it the next day though.
I woke up startled like you slept through an alarm and knew you were late. I looked over to my phone (5:30am) and quickly calmed down. We had plenty of time. That morning we needed time to fully pack the cars as we were checking out of the Rainbow
. We were moving to a VRBO rental in town. It would be much better for our group size.
After doing some schedule calculations, I quietly got up, put on some clothes and slipped out to the lodge for some coffee. As usual, Ed was at the desk as I walked through the front door. “Good morning,” I said. Ed returned the greeting as I walked to hook up my IV to the caffeine machine. I quickly poured a cup, added some cream and sugar, and commenced drinking. Ah, that’s better. I walked over to Ed to get the fishing run-down from the day before.
The Salmonfly hatch was over. Fishing was just okay. Hmmm. I went back for a second cup, grabbed a glazed doughnut, and went back to the room. It was still early and no reason to wake everyone up. I opened up my notebook to see what was going on out there in the real world. After a few short articles, it was time to go, so I set my notebook down, and started the process of easing the kids into the daylight. One by one, they rose and started the process of getting ready.
As Alex and I were fishing up some minor details to go, the kids snuck out to get some hot cocoa and doughnuts. They came back shortly afterwards, bouncing as they approached the car. I guess we all have our own morning drugs. For adults, its caffeine. For kids, sugar. We climbed into the cars and headed out to Trout Stalkers fly shop to meet up with Eric and Anni
We parked right in front of the fly shop. There was quite a bit of activity for 7am. As we stepped in, it was like I was a kid in a candy store with all of the gear hanging on the walls. I informed the kid at the counter that we needed fishing licenses. He proceeded to ask a series of questions: name, address, age, social security. Oops, I don’t know my kids social security number. Oh well. Not a show stopper. As we were going through TSA for fishing, I looked over and saw a $100 snipper
. Unbelievable. “What is this sport coming too?” I thought to myself. “Who in this world would spend that much on something we use nail clippers for? Wow.” But I digress.
Shortly after Eric and Anni walked through the door of the fly shop. “Boys. How are we doing on this fine morning?” Eric asked with a big grin. This guy is always smiling. You can tell he just loves what he does. What a great spirit. We exchanged pleasantries and headed out of the fly shop.
Ethan had met Eric once before in Utah
while we were on a family ski vacation and had grown a fondness towards him. Eric had driven up to ski with us for a couple of days. On the first day we had some unbelievable ski conditions. Ethan has a great respect for experts, and Eric really showed his stuff as he shredded the mountain and showed me how old I was. The scary thing is Eric is older than me!
Across the street were two trucks with boats on trailers attached. The boats looked very familiar. They both had the recognizable Yobi Adventures Outfitter sticker on them. Anni’s is the boat I learned how to fish on and Eric’s was the new boat he bought this year that I was lucky enough to christen with him in March. That was a cold float. You know its cold when your fly rod is in the water more than in the air.
We divided up into the two trucks and off we went. I was fortunate enough to load into Eric’s car. I wanted to spend a little time with my buddy who opened the world of fly fishing to me and get a little caught up before the day began.
I wasn’t going to be fishing with him that day. We needed the fish whisperer for the boys. As we ran through the day, he caught on that I was a bit nervous. With a big smile he looked over at me and said “I got this
.” With that, we pulled up to the Madison River at Palisades, one of the more beautiful fishing access sites
on the Madison River
Our Day on the Water
We quickly unloaded from the trucks and immediately began getting setup. You could immediately see Eric orchestrating the show. He pulled the beginners aside, added a layer of clothing, setup their rods and took them over to a grassy area to work on beginner’s casting techniques. Alex and I started setting up our gear and loading the boat with Anni. Periodically I would gaze over to watch the maestro instructing the boys. It gave me flash backs to my first day with Eric. The fly rods were snapping back and forth like someone with a fly swatter. Oh my, lots of work is needed there! It is easy to forget how long it takes to cast well.
After about 15-20 minutes of instruction, we were ready and slipped both boats into the water. I looked down at my watch and it was about 8am. I began fishing the front of the boat with a Turd and Prince. Alex was fishing from the back of the boat with a Salmonfly. The beginner boat was setup with a single Turd each. They were rotating 2 rods in the water at a time with the boys switching off in the front. What a great idea. By putting the kids in front, Eric could watch and give them direction, and by rotating who is fishing, the kids could take turns and not get tired or bored.
Within the first few minutes, I had fish on. It was a white fish of decent size. On the Madison
, the white fish help with boat count but they are more of a nuisance. But to Ethan, he just saw his dad catch a fish and that got him excited.
Within the next hour, I was the only rod catching fish on either boat. The Salmonfly Alex was fishing clearly was not working and the kids were just ramping up. Alex finally switched over and put on the same flies as me and almost immediately started pulling them in too. The kids were amazed and we looked like super heroes.
Periodically, I would look over to see big smiles on their faces as they drifted down the river. Good, at least they were having fun. I pulled out my IPhone to capture some video of their big smiles. My line was in the water so I let it just drift as I started capturing some video of the kids. Bam! The video was cut short as I had a decent rainbow on the line with no tight lines. So lucky. I began stripping it in to the boat. “16” rainbow. “Not bad, for not paying attention,” I thought. I smiled at Alex and Anni and said “Don’t hate me for being lucky.”
While I was doing some housekeeping on the boat, I looked over and Ethan had a fish on his line. He was laser focused as he listened and did exactly what Eric told him. “Keep your tip up, tight line, strip, strip, strip.” That grin of his was ear to ear. He brought the rainbow to the boat and Eric netted it. You could see he was having a blast. “Daddy, I caught a fish!” he yelled out to me. What a thrill I felt at that moment as I realized he was experiencing the true joy of fishing, something that is more than scores or sizes, or winning – the basic animal instinct of hunting your prey, capturing it, and then releasing back to the wild.
During the rest of the morning, Eric mixed drifting with wading. What a great idea. By showing him wade fishing, he would have the tools to fish without a guide on the following days. While we were both anchored across from each other, their crew was in the water wade fishing. Alex and I sat in the boat and watched as we occasionally cast upstream. The kids caught a few more while we were there.
After another short drift down the river, we decided to stop for lunch. Anni and Eric switched gears quickly, from calm relaxing captains of their boat to people with a purpose. They setup a picnic table and pulled out their coolers. They unpacked the food and setup quite a spread.
As we sat down to devour our food, the kids were talking boat fish count. Ethan asked “How many did you catch Daddy?” I let him know I had 5 in the boat. Then he asked Alex. Alex told him he had 3 for a total of 8. They started to rub in that they had 12. How cute. I remember when my only concern was to do as well as Alex. Competition has a place for beginners. It helps them stay focused.
After lunch, Alex and I went over to the shore with our weapons in hand. There was a nice little riffle that looked stocked with little fish. Good for fish count. Alex went upstream and I went down. Within about 10 minutes Alex and I brought in 5 more fish giving us 13. The kids watched in amazement how quickly we brought in fish and quickly realized they were now behind again on the score card. After the short catching spree, we each came back to the picnic area to enjoy the last of our meal. The kids walked down to the same spot I was fishing and cast a few flies in the quickly moving water but got no action.
After lunch we packed-up and loaded the boats and started back down the river. Eric led the kids down first with our boat behind, hitting the opposite shore. We pounded the water but fishing was much slower in the afternoon. We totaled 16 fish, a great day for many rivers but just good on the Madison. I was quite satisfied with fishing and had the familiar feeling of peace I get when fishing.
As we drifted up to the pullout, you could see the kids were enjoying themselves just sitting in the boat. They were talking amongst themselves about the fish they had caught and the ones that got away. They sounded just like fishermen. As they noticed us pulling up, the kids yelled over, “How many fish did you catch?” I informed them our boat count. They smiled and yelled back “twenty-one!” They were very pleased with themselves.
Eric and Anni anchored the boats then went to get the cars. Alex and I were very familiar with the exit process and proceeded to grab all of the fly rods and place them on land in a safe place, directed everyone out of the boats, and then aligned each boat for the trailers. First Eric then Anni backed onto the boat ranp and loaded the boats. We walked to the cars, fly rods in hand, grabbed the rest of our gear from the boat and began breaking down our fly rods, then loading up the trucks.
Hearing What I Wanted to Hear
After we completed packing the cars, it was time to do my final check. I walked over to Ethan, put my arm around him and asked, “Well, how was that? Do you want to go fishing again” He looked over at me with that smile and asked, “When are we going again?” That is all I had to hear. He does have the fishing gene! Thank you Eric.
As we reached town, you could see the wear on the kids from the day. They were zonked. We stumbled into the gravel bar for a little dinner. The kids quickly descended to the table in the very corner and put their heads down on the table. They were really worked. You could see their sun kissed skin starting to show. They quickly ordered food while Alex and I compared notes with Eric at the bar, beers in hand.
Eric started mapping out the following day for us. “Guys, take the whole gang on my lake boat on Ennis Lake by fletcher channel. Make sure to get there by 7:30am. Spread everyone out, hit the confluence for a while then move up the channel. The whole thing will shut down by 11:30.”
That sounded like a great plan except I wasn’t sure we were going to get everyone up two days in a row, especially with the tired look on their faces. We thanked Eric for the next day’s plan and then Eric was off to tap into his information network from fellow guides and anglers. The kids quickly ate dinner and then Sharad decided to run them to the house and get us situated. Alex and I decided to stay back, and drink a few beers. This ended up not being the best decision as we ran into some old friends we had not seen in years, and talked and drank till late. We ended up rolling into bed past midnight. Ouch! That was going to hurt in the morning.Part V Coming Soon!