As a young boy I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with my father. We spent many evenings shooting hoops in the driveway, playing catch out in the yard, and most memorable of all, fishing. He would get home from work and with a slight smirk ask, “What do you think, should we go out to the pond and drown some worms?” He knew without a doubt that was a proposition I would never turn down. I grew up in the Midwest and fishing for trout was not an option but wetting a line in hopes of catching bass, crappie, bream, or catfish was by far and away my favorite father/son activity. I remember some great fishing but more importantly I remember the bond shared between a father and son. For some reason those evening fishing trips brought out an openness between us that we didn’t have at home. Our most personal conversations came forth as we kept a close eye on our bobbers.
As a fly fishing guide I have had the opportunity to witness fathers and sons having great days together, experiences they will not soon forget. One of my favorite father/son trips was last summer. Steve and his son Spencer came into the shop one afternoon and expressed interest in booking a guided trip the following day. Spencer was young at the time, 7 or 8 years old, but his dad assured me that he had an undeniable interest in fly fishing and would stand on their dock in Florida and literally cast for hours. I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, I can relate!”
The following day the guys showed up to the shop and we got geared up. Spencer was totally undeterred by the fact that the smallest pair of wading boots we had were still about 3 sizes too big. As we headed to the private water on the North Fork, Steve instructed me to focus on helping Spencer. As with most fathers he would clearly get more enjoyment out of watching his boy catch fish than catching them himself. I was blown away as I watched this small child roll cast, mend his line, and set the hook with finesse. I couldn’t help but smile and every time I turned to look at Steve he was capturing video, snapping pictures, and smiling as well.
As fly fishing continues to grow in popularity, it is also diversifying. Moms and daughters are getting in on the fun as well. I recently had a family that booked back-to-back trips. The first day I took out father and son and the second day, mother and daughter. A friendly wager was hatched in the spirit of “boys vs. girls.” After two days of fishing fun the results were close, but father and son ended up with the dinner check that night.
As I mentioned earlier I feel extremely lucky to have spent such quality time with my father when I was young. Those moments shaped our relationship and shaped who I am today. Living so far away, I don’t get to fish with him often but dad is still my favorite fishing buddy. Spending time with family is so important and fly fishing provides a great opportunity to enjoy each others’ company on a peaceful river in a beautiful setting.