Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Father & Son Fishing Trip...

Early August, my son and I made the long bumpy drive to one of our favorite fishing spots here in Idaho.  The jeep was packed with gear, tents, and lots of anticipation.  We would be chasing Cutthroat Trout mostly, with the chance of a few Bull-trout and hopefully the opportunity to see some spawning Salmon as well.  Camden and I have been making this trip for a few years now.  Each year, we hike deeper into the wilderness and find better fishing holes along the way.  
Camden has been lucky enough to hook, and land many a fish.  Being 9, he still learning much with each trip out.  Whom am I kidding, I have been fly fishing for 20 years and I still learn something new with each trip.

The trip started out much like we expected.  Lots of eager fish ready and willing to take a dry fly.  The first couple of days brought many a Cutthroat and a few decent Bull trout to the hand.  Camden and I decided to hike another mile or so deeper into the canyon to fish some new water.  We found a beautiful little water fall dropping into an amazing looking pool.   A mellow soft-water seam along with the white froth line was our target.  To say we were both excited and eager to throw a line is quite the understatement. 

We entered into this new water far downstream as not spook any fish.  Right where we entered the river, we netted a few small trout at the tail end of this very large hole; the hole was about 75’ long.  After making a few casts without any action, we cross the river which put us into the optimum casting position.  I was teaching Cam about fishing the close water first to keep from spooking the larger fish holding deep in the pool.  The day was going just as any fly fisher would hope. Almost every good cast would end with a strike.  Not necessary a hook-up, but a strike.    Camden noticed that my fly seemed to attract more attention than his.  He asked if he could cast my line.  I hand handed him my rod… a quality handcrafted bamboo rod from Dave Dozer of Oregon.  I know Bamboo is extremely durable, but I will admit I was a little nervous allowing my 9 yr. old to cast such a rod.  He caught a couple good fish, 13-15”, he was all smiles.  Camden moved a couple feet upriver and made a truly impressive cast.  As the line and leader lay out onto the water, a huge strike was made.   Cam yelled in excitement, I cringed at the thought of my beautiful cain rod being mishandled…  Yet, I was thrilled to see my son hook into such a beauty of a fish.

Camden sets the hook, feels the weight of such a great fish and all his training goes out the window.  He starts yelling and asking for help, for guidance, for his dad to grab the rod and land this great fish…  As a dad and as a fisherman, what should I do?  Do I help him land this fish, a fish he will remember for years to come, or do I turn this into a learning experience and have him land the fish all by himself.   Hoping of course that he is able to get the job done. 
I quickly decide to give only verbal instructions about getting the fish onto the reel.  The excitement of big fish often plays tricks on fisherman…   9 year olds are no exception.  In all the excitement, Camden actually holds the fly line with his teeth in order to quickly get the slack line onto the reel.  Just as the line is on the reel and fish feels the weight of the fly fisher, the big Cutthroat makes a run…  Here I am on the bank making loud enthusiastic recommendations.  Let go of the reel, let him run,…  no, no no, reel, reel, reel…   OK, keep pressure, oh no, let him run, hands off the reel….  This same episode was played out a couple of times before the fish was within netting distance. 

Now my son Camden is yelling at me to help him net the fish.  Over the past couple of days, prior to this fish, Cam was getting some practice of netting his own fish.  I pondered, was he ready for such a test after only a couple days of practice.   Here we are, another teaching moment.   My son had the net tethered to his shorts.   Yes, the net was being pulled down river, but it was still connected.  He so wanted dad to net this fish, 1) because prior to this year, I often did, 2), this fish was BIG.  I jumped into the water, collected his net and handed it to him.  His facial expression said it all… he was stunned, proud, scared, and simply in awe, that dad was going to make him net this fish alone.  At this time I questioned my own sanity, but I wanted Cam to have the complete experience of catching a fish of this caliper.  While giving instructions, not to chase the fish with the net, don’t come from behind, etc, etc.

After a couple of missed netting attempts, Camden finally got the fish into the net.   During the immediate seconds after the fish was netted, we almost lost him again.  Between the weight of the fish and the net along with the current, the fish almost squirmed his way back into the river.  The past couple of minutes were such a roller coaster of emotions for the both of us.  I took the rod from his hand, placed it on the ground and gave him the biggest of hugs.  We snapped a couple of pics, (no great ones) and quickly got the fish back into the water. 
We sat, we smiled, and we stared out to the river, not much was said for a few moments.  I think we both understood that a milestone had just occurred.  Both a fishing milestone, as well as a special event between father and son. 

I know how lucky and blessed I am to have a healthy child that loves spending time in the woods with dad.  Being a nine year old, I am guessing this was simply a big fish in the mind of my son.  For me, this was so much more.

A big thank you to Dave Dozer from Bamboo Pursuits for not only building such a quality rod, but helping a father and son build such great memories.

Click Here to learn more about the Handcrafted furled Leaders used on this trip. 

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