That’s 7 year old David and I. On our second day of hot, humid, sticky and full on sunshine weather of fly fishing. And not a single fish caught. Two bad days of fly fishing builds character and camaraderie.
It could lower your self-esteem too – but not in this case. The smiles, the hugs, the “thank you, Daddy’s,” the jokes, and seeing the wee man still keen on learning to fly fish made up for the fact that for two full days, we blanked. Together.
I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing. David is not quite getting the hang of casting a fly rod – but he’s getting close. I could have taken him to a pay as you go trout farm where he could use worms, and he’d have been guaranteed a fish or four. And indeed, that is exactly what I did the first time I took him fishing when he was about two years old. And he caught fish.
I just don’t want him to get bored or lose patience too soon. But, he’s quite enamored with flies, learning the differences between dry flies, wet flies, streamers, etc. And he wants to catch a fish on a fly rod – and we need to work on some “best bets” as far as fly selection is concerned.
The wee man is heading off to Edmonton for two and a half weeks, so I thought I’d try to spend as much time as possible with him before he does that. I DO want him to miss me!! Yes, I do! I was hoping that we’d figure out a way to get him into his first fish on the fly rod before he leaves – but at the same time, wanted it to be fun for him. In the end so far, he’s not got his first fish on the fly rod, the weather conditions have sucked, and I wish I was a better teacher.
We’re sort of been stuck between a rock and a hard place. He might have been more successful with his rod and floating line if we had visited some streams in the area. But he’s not quite up to wading and hiking through bush and brush especially with 30+ degree temps. So at the pond, we could still get into fish territory with a longer leader and a weighted fly.. except David wants to decide what fly to use. And he can’t quite cast a line of 20 feet with a 8 foot leader, and a weighted fly. But we had fun.
I had previously given David a fly box, and the other day I added a variety of flies to it. When we were fishing, he was looking through his fly box and decided what fly he wanted to try, even against my objections and recommendations. So I went with the flow. Whatever he wanted to try, I tied on, cast it out for him, he’d retrieve, and we’d do it over again. So I didn’t really have much chance to do some serious fishing myself. But that was ok.
Towards the end, David said, “Dad, I want to try a dry fly.”
“Well David, there’s nothing hatching on the water, and none of the fish are rising so I don’t think a dry fly is going to work.”
“That’s ok. I just want to try a dry fly. I like dry flies. And I want to try it over there, ” pointing in the direction where we had seen a fish rise the evening before.
I didn’t really have much in the way of dry fly gear with me, but I had a box with some small caddis in it. I tied on some 3 lb. tippet and attached the fly, cast it out and handed David the rod. After awhile, “I think dry fly fishing might be the best, even if you’re not catching anything Dad.” I chuckled and thought, “Uh oh, is David at 7 years old, already on his way to becoming one of those fly fishing elitist snobs that only fish dry flies?” I ran my fingers through his hair and told him it was whatever you had the most fun and enjoyment doing that counted.
About half an hour later, and several casts to water, casting on hunches, ideas, and hopes but nothing, I gave it another try. We watched as the fly landed on the water. And whattaya know! A small trout actually did rise to it! That was exciting to see. But that was all the action we’d get to see as far as the fish were concerned.
As I packed up our gear, David picked up the net to take to the car. I grabbed the rods, and felt this poke in my side. I looked down at David who was holding one hand against his hip. He pointed and said, “That’s MY rod, Dad. I will carry My rod myself.” Good to see he has a sense of ownership and responsibility to that fly rod.
On the drive back, we talked about why fish sometimes don’t bite and how good an ice cream cone would be after our efforts on such a hot day. And so we ended the day, his hand in mine as we tasted each other’s ice cream cone and planned for the next time we could go out fishing together. Character – and camaraderie with your seven year old son is what two bad days of fishing can do. Can’t beat that!