First Time Fly Fishing
The last week before a big race, I am a bundle of eager anticipation. Part of it is that I am looking forward to all that I have worked so hard to prepare for; part of it is that during taper, I’ve cut back my mileage so much that I have a lot of extra energy.
It’s difficult to find something to do during taper. My body and mind miss running. While I crave doing something, anything, I also need avoid doing activities that would be counter-productive or put me at risk for injury, such as try to cut an entire winter’s firewood in one weekend (been there, done that).
So Nathan and I decided to go fly fishing this afternoon.
Last week, he used a spin-casting reel and rod at Legion Lake and caught nothing, just like everyone else at the lake using bait or lures. At the same time, I caught a small mouth bass after bass, using dry flies.
Nathan has never been fly fishing before; this was his first time. It took a little bit of time for him to get used to fly casting. He still needs to practice casting delicately instead of whipping the rod back and forth (I know many adults who haven’t mastered this technique yet, even after years).
We went into the Grace Coolidge Walk-in Fishing Area of nearby Custer State Park. On small mountain streams, placing the fly involves more of a flick of the wrist than classic fly casting anyway.
One of the best aspects of fishing small streams is that if fish are present, you are guaranteed to see them. Catching them is another matter, but at least you know they’re there. Plus, even if the fish aren’t biting, you always are rewarded with seeing other things of interest.
Today we saw a small mink. Nathan was mesmerized. We watched it alternate between swimming and crawling out of the water. It was like an energetic tiny brown otter. As it finally disappeared into the weeds, we could smell its musky odor. Nathan will never ever forget what a mink looks, acts or smells like.
We had many strikes, but most spit out the fly. Setting the hook is another technique he needs to practice. It takes a light, quick but firm touch. Too hard and the hook is pulled away; too light or too late and the fish is gone.
Finally, one stayed on the line- it was a small rainbow trout!
After taking the photo, I taught Nathan how to gently revive he fish before releasing him back into the stream.
It was a great time. Before I know it, Nathan will be out-fishing me. He’ll be the expert teaching his Dad how to fly fish instead of the other way around.
Isn’t that the way it should be?