Monday, April 17, 2017

My Best Guide Trip Yet

M's first trip - 2013 (4 mos. old)

     A few months after my son, "M," was born, I was ready to get on the water. 2013 was a brutal winter and I had a pretty serious case of cabin fever. Even if it hadn't snowed so much, I just needed to get out of the house. Seeing how a newborn would be confined to his carrier, I figured a quick fishing trip might be possible. I timed it for the Quill Gordon hatch on a local river. 

     Things didn't go according to plan. As a baby, M demanded to be held and walked around almost all the time. It was exhausting. I thought he might be distracted enough by the sights and sounds of nature for me to catch a fish or two. I had only made a few casts before M cried. He didn't want to be in the carrier. He wanted to be held, just like at home. So much for my brilliant plan. 

    After the first trip, I decided to wait a bit before trying again. A few months later, a stroller trip to Connecticut's Salmon River ended pretty much the same way. After that, I decided to pull the plug on fishing with M in year one. In his second year, we made a couple successful trips to the Naugatuck, largely due to the novelty of a toddler carrier backpack. By the time M was old enough to run around, he had gotten sort of wild, that way little boys often do. He was too wild to bring fishing. It just wasn't enough action for him and it would have been dangerous to leave him on the bank. I fished on my own for the next two years. 

The apprentice

     This winter, four year old M developed an interest in fly tying. I showed him some basics and he soon asked, "Where are all of my tools?" I laughed, but he didn't let me off the hook. I had to get him his own set of tools. I had enough of the basics at home, but we made a special trip to UpCountry Sportfishing to fill his box with tools and some bargain bin materials. It was still too cold to fish, but the seed had been planted...

     ...Fast forward to last Friday. The weather had been warm enough to make a local Quill Gordon hatch a possibility. I had a much needed day off and had planned on fishing alone that day. However, my plans change suddenly,  as they often do. I called an audible and brought M back to the original river. We returned to the pool he last visited when he was four months old. I told M that I would do the casting and he would fight the fish, just like we had practiced in the basement two weeks prior (on the rod and reel he claimed were his). 

Fish on!

     As expected, there was a Quill Gordon hatch, albeit a light one. We hooked up on a cripple pattern, but lost the brown trout early in the fight. The other trout didn't have much interest in a dry fly, but they nipped at a sz. 14 Hare's Ear wet fly. It seemed too small, so I switched to a larger wet fly, a sz. 10 Leading Coachman. 

     Bingo! It wasn't long before we hooked up in the tail of the pool. I handed the rod to M. He reeled the wrong way at first, but got it right after I offered some expert advice. It wasn't long before I netted M's first trout, a nice little brookie. Unfortunately, the fish slipped out of my hand when I tried to take its picture. Shortly after the excitement of landing his first trout, M dropped my 20-compartment dry fly box into the river. I fished it out of the current with the tip of my rod. 

M's second trout

     After laying the fly box out to dry, we went back to it. It wasn't long before we hooked up again. After another urgent lesson in which direction to reel, M brought his second trout close, this time a little rainbow. After landing the first fish, M really wanted to net a fish himself. That wasn't going to happen, so I handed him the net with the rainbow in it. The fish kicked, startled M, and he dropped the net into the river. I jumped in after the net and the water went over my hip boots. Like my fly box, my right leg was totally soaked. It was a small price to pay for the memories. 

     We had to leave shortly thereafter, so we packed up and headed out. I took off my soaked socks and put on a pair of flip flops. After putting M in his car seat, I congratulated him on a job well done, catching two of the three species of local trout. He whined loudly,  "But I wanted to catch a brown trout, too!" 

The lucky fly, set aside for safe keeping


  1. Great story Ben!! I recognize that spot too!! Good Choice!! Congrats to "M" of his first trout on a fly road.

    1. Thanks, Pete! Hope to see you out on the river soon!

  2. Congrats to M on his first fish! Great job Ben!

  3. Great story, great memories, Ben! Good on you for being a caring dad!

  4. Awesome day and story, Ben! So happy for you, and jealous.

    1. Thanks, Bob! I'm jealous too...he has caught two more fish than I have this year...

  5. Ben, a chip of the old block. Congrats to you both.

  6. Way to go Ben and "M"! Treasure those memories that don't stay small for long


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