There aren’t a ton of certainties in life, but one of them is that you get a finite number of days to spend with your parents. Some people don’t even get that, so if you are blessed enough to get time with your parents you are obligated to make the most of them. That’s one of the things that brought me to fly fishing. My Dad and I spend a lot of time outdoors together when I was growing up – fishing, hunting, camping. These things were a ton of fun, but hunting was something that just never became mine, and life with it’s busyness has a way to carrying us away from the priorities we often fail to recognize.
Fly fishing was something that I had always thought would be awesome to learn how to do. So when my Dad picked up a fly rod about 3 years ago I thought to myself, “maybe this could be the thing that we do together.” Last summer my Dad invited my brother and I on a trip to Yellowstone National Park to fly fish together, so in July of 2013 I walked into the Orvis store and bought a beginner’s package. Over the past 8 months, fly fishing has become mine and my Dad’s thing. We spend a lot of time together on the water now, learning together, suffering together, being frustrated together, celebrating together – fishing together.
That brings us to this Saturday, March 15 when Dad and I shared a drift boat trip together that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. We set off around 9:00 am. The air was cold and the rhythmic gurgling of the downward flowing water was soothing. The line of bright golden sun crept steadily down the treeline and towards the river. The first 30 minutes of the tip were devoid of any fish leaving the guide, myself, and dad with a palpable yet publicly unacknowledged tension in our movements. Soon enough the sunlight crept to the banks and out onto the water.
Soon enough Dad had a trout on the line and we had one to the boat. A gorgeous brown. Everyone relaxed a lot after that. Maybe our approach was going to work after all.
After Dad scored two more fish, I was beginning to regret letting him have that front seat. He was making it count. Soon enough I had my own beautiful brown trout to the boat.
From here on out we kept our guide Hunter steadily occupied. The bite was on and we were the lead boat and we were taking full advantage. A 10 minute fight with the awesome rainbow below gave Hunter a chance to show off his deft boat maneuvering skills as the slid up and down the pool and side to side spinning smoothly around rocks and other obstacles until the treasure was ours.
We caught so many rainbows that were simply beautiful, healthy, perfectly designed, divine creatures.
Dad even managed to dig up a Brookie at one point to pull off a slam.
Not only did we catch good numbers, but we caught some stout fish as well. The numbers continued to climb with several double hook ups.
Dad managed to catch this awesome kype jawed male and get him to the boat. The battle was epic with the fish making several reel squealing runs that had Dad begging for mercy.
Although the trip as a whole was one that I will remember forever it was capitalized by subliminal moments which permanently engraved images in my mind. One such moment came when Hunter told me to cast my flies to a rock strewn bank about 50 feet away. For me a 50 foot cast on target requires my full stock of limited skill and a ton of destiny. After two false cast and a haul the line streaked forward unrolling like a scroll and the fly alighted on target – miracle number one. This cast was followed by a mend utilizing the technique Hunter had shown me earlier to prevent pulling my fly away from the target – miracle number two. In my book two miracles ought to be followed by a trout, and it was a miraculous day indeed. I will never forget that fish because it embodied everything that is the essence of fly fishing.
Throughout the day we kept having to revise our goal upward. We started at 25, but surpassed that about half way through the float. About two thirds through and two goal-revisions later we surpassed 40. How about 50 a number that only 7 hours ago seemed astronomical to me?
Another deep hole yielded another awesome rainbow to Dad.
We continued hitting the seams and pockets of soft water in the last half mile of river, and soon enough we stood at 50. I couldn’t believe it. If you had told me at 9:30 am that we would have 50 trout to the boat by the end of the day I would have told you that you were crazy. But Hunter pointed out that a round number like 50 doesn’t lend much credibility since it sounds like you are just rounding to an arbitrary value and didn’t actually count. My Dad being the kind of guy that’s dots his I’s and crosses his T’s and checks them twice found Hunter’s argument compelling enough to bring his full attention to bear on turning up another trout, and with 200 yards of stream to go, trout number 51 was in the boat.
Needless to say this was a day that my Dad and I will always talk about. I’m not sure we should ever book another drift boat trip again. But because we are fisherman, we will.
Many thanks to Hunter Barnes with Blue Ridge Fly Fishing for helping us to have the day of a lifetime!