Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On The Fly

When I was a kid, I learned that my dad, my hero, the person I most wanted to be like, was a fly fisherman. Not just any kind of fly fisherman, but a dry fly fisherman.
Sure, he would take our family to one of several lakes or reservoirs that weren't too far away, only because we couldn't fly fish. He was designated as the person who would bait the hooks. Sometimes at Deer Creek reservoir with several of us there, the perch would be biting so fast that he didn't have time to fish for himself.
As I got to the ripe old age of six or seven, so it was that my dad took me with him and tried to teach me to fish with a dry fly. He taught me to cast, to watch the fly float down a stream, and to hook a fish when it took the fly. The theory was there, but to a youngster, the coordination and particularly the attention span and concentration were lacking and took a few years to develop.
One of my dad's favorite places to fish was the North Fork of the Provo river. My dad loved to fish the upper Provo. The first fish that I can remember catching on a dry fly was at the North Fork. There was a little ripple just North of the bridge and I was casting and floating the fly. I wasn't watching much, just imitating what my dad was doing. Of a sudden, there was a trout on my line. I can remember to this day how excited I was.
It was at this time that it finally sunk in, that you have to watch for the fish to take the fly. Often they will just come up and look at it, take it and spit it out before you can react, or swat it with their tail. More than once I have hooked a fish by the tail as I reacted to it.
Only a few times in the nearly forty years since I got married have I taken time to fly fish. When Nan and I had no children, we took a camping trip and fished the river above Tabiona just off the reservation on the road to the upper still water. We camped by the river and I tried to teach her to fly fish. I caught a few trout and a couple of whitefish. I don't think Nan was able to get the hang of it.
I taught my son Ben to fly fish when we would go camping at the Spruces in Big Cottonwood canyon. He seemed to pick it up pretty good and was able to catch a fish from time to time. One time as he was flipping his fly in the air, he made a once in a lifetime catch...he hooked a dragonfly.
This year at our family outing at Warm Springs Resort in Hannah, we fished the Duchesne River where it ran through the property. It had been years since we dusted off the fly rods, and neither of us could catch a fish, although we had quite a few strikes.
This past weekend we went to visit our good Friends, Charlie and Joyce, at Fish Lake. As is usual for our visits, we spent a lot of time fishing from their boat in the lake and catching some good sized trout. We took our fly rods with us, and Charlie took us to a couple of places to fish in the streams. One place we fished, I didn't catch anything, but Charlie and Ben both caught a couple of Cutthroat trout. They released them back into the stream. On Saturday afternoon, we took a little drive and came to the Fremont river. A little above the reservoir, we found a place to fly fish, and it wasn't long before I found a little place where there were some small fish. Not big enough to keep, we had fun catching them and it was good practice watching the fly float and the fish going after it. These were German Brown Trout.
Alas, my thoughts again return to my dad. He was old, his body worn out, but the desire to fly fish was still there. He drove up the mirror lake road to a place he liked to fish. He left mom in the car while he hiked down the long and steep embankment to the river. I don't recall if he collected any fish, but knowing him, he probably had a fun time tempting them. When he got tired, he decided to go back to the car...only he couldn't get up the steep hill. Mom didn't know he was just down the hill, and was probably reading a book and napping. Dad, finally got down in his hands and knees and crawled up the hill to the car and my mom. That was the last time he fly fished.
I suspect our interests will be different, but wouldn't it be nice if, when we died, we found our little place in heaven had a little brook running through it and the trout were jumping and we had a fly rod in our hand.