A June Surprise With My Grandson
This year, for the fishing derby, my daughter and I planned on me picking up my 9 year old grandson, Damon, the day before the Sunday kids fishing derby. Damon had a boy scout sleep over but should be home at around noon. I was there about noon. We ate some lunch and talked a bit. I got Damon’s fishing gear, extra cloth and new camo boonie hat and put them in the van. It was about 2:00 then and I really wanted to know how much better Damon’s casting was this year. I knew of a stream up north a ways that he can practice and maybe at least catch some creek chubs or bluegills.
The creek I’m referring to is stocked with rainbows and browns. It’s a scenic stream extending well over 20 some miles. The part I have fished, most of the time, has a lot of riffles that end in good size long pools. There are flats that cover rocky hideouts and some trees and cover along the banks. Most of the stream is open to the sun but along most of the banks are shaded by evergreens. If you wade away from the bank you can get some good overhead casts to unwary trout on the least fished far side. There is a good hatch of blue wing olive duns, Quill gardens, Gray foxes and Hendrickson’s to name a few in the early season. By June you can start fishing terrestrials and wooly buggers. One year I met Al at the old railroad bed. We walked up stream and found a good hatch of blue wing olives. We caught fish after fish for quite some time. Being the stream runs along a main road it gets fished hard by fishermen. There also is an old railroad bed that can easily be walked, up or down stream, quite a ways. This is a stream to fish if you want to spend all day on the same stream. I have found many gullible trout up stream a good walk from the road. There are some nice size holdovers you just got to find them. One evening I was on the creek until it got dark, pitching Gray Foxes and Light Cahills to feeding trout in a long pool not far from the main road. Without a flashlight it was tough getting out of there but it was well worth it.
The part of the stream we’ll be fishing is just behind a small town. There’s a bridge that crosses the stream heading towards the school. There is a deep hole downstream from the bridge that should have some kind of fish Damon can catch. He would have enough room to cast his bait-casting pole without catching the brush. It’s fished pretty regular, I figure, being that it’s close to town, and near the school. The whole idea of this short fishing trip anyhow is to see how well Damon is at casting.
We park off the side of the road near the bridge. Damon puts on his new boonie hat, new fishing vest and his push button bait-caster. I grab some bait and the net, just in case. At the stream I put a wax worm on along with a split shot and he’s-a-fishen. He casts out and does pretty well at it. He catches a creek chub right off the bat. I change to a mealworm in hopes of catching any trout that might be left over, No takers. I put a bobber on so he can tell a little better if he gets a strike. While he’s fishing, I glance about the stream and am surprised that there are fish surface feeding upstream of the bridge. It’s the second week of June, and around 3:00 with the sun shining. There are at least 3 fish feeding just below a small riffle nearest the far bank. I don’t see any bugs flying around and it looks like they're just slurping up small midges.
“Hey Damon, you stay here and practice, I’m going to get my fly rod, maybe we can catch something on that”
I walk to the van and grab my 7 ½ foot fiberglass rod. It’s already to go with a green F5dt line. The tapered leader looks kind of short though. I walk down to the stream and tie on a good length of 7x tippet. The fish are unaware that we’re here and I want to make sure Damon can see the fly as well as see what I’m doing. I tie on a size 14 Adams.
“Hey Damon, put your pole down and come on up here”
While Damon is walking towards me, where I stand under the bridge, I notice a fish feeding just upstream from me in the middle, just where the shadow of the bridge starts.
“Damon, see that little swirl now and then in the middle there, right there?”
“That’s a fish eating bugs on the water”
“You gonna catch him?”
“We’ll give it a try”
I cast out above where he’s feeding and let the fly drift through. Didn’t take. I tried again and still nothing. It’s time to get serious. I move up a bit, cast further up where the fish was feeding and mend my line upstream to provide a good drift. I watched as the fish lazily came to the top and sucked it in. I set the hook and after a few splashes started bringing him in.
“You got him, pa-pa”
“Yep, now watch my hands and this is the way you bring in a fish with a fly rod”
I explain and show him how you play a fish and bring him to you. I net the 10” trout and show him the pinkish lateral line to remind him what a rainbow looks like. I then release him. I point to the other fish feeding nearer the far bank and he seams a lot more interested now.
“Let’s see if I can get those guys over there”
I cast in the riffles. The Adam bobs a few times with the small waves and then slowly drifts into the pool. A trout slurps it up, I set the hook and hand Damon the rod.
“Here, remember what I showed you. Keep the rod tip up and if he pulls hard let the line run threw your fingers but keep a little tension on the line.”
“OK, start bringing him in” I said
Damon does a good job bringing in an 8” rainbow. I see the grin on his face as I tell him good job. I don’t have to use the net to release him but I do anyhow to let Damon see the proper way.
“Can I let him go, pa-pa”
“Sure, dip the net further in the water and let him swim out”
Not wanting to scare the other feeding trout at the end of those riffles I look around and see a trout feeding on the backside of the bridge nearer to the far bank. The rise is a good one with a nose appearing. I side arm cast under the bridge and the Adam gets out there a little too far but still upstream far enough I can pull it towards me a little without the feeding trout seeing the commotion. I mend up stream and the flies entering the strike zone. Wham, the fish grabs the Adam’s like there’s no tomorrow. I hand the fiberglass to Damon and tell him to hold on. I instruct him how to play the fish, letting the fish run a bit when he wants with the rod tip up and then bring in line not giving him a rest. Damon does great and lands a 15” brown. We let him go and I let Damon know he did a fine job. His blue eyes under his boonie hat gleam.
“Damon, stay here while I go get the camera”
This seemed to be a sure bet of getting a few pictures of my grandson fly-fishing. I got my 35mm and headed back to the stream. I stooped down underneath the bridge and adjusted the aperture and lens speed of my camera. Now all I needed to do is focus on a boy with a bent fly rod in his hands.
“OK, you ready?” I say, he just grins.
We move up in the sun and for the heck of it I tie on a size #16 blue-wing olive parachute. I cast to the feeding trout below the riffles again. Again one takes and I set the hook. Handing Damon the fiberglass rod I tell him to take his time bringing in the trout. I go and pick up my camera and focus. A camo-boonie hatted kid is standing there holding a bent fly rod. New fishing vest in a black T’ shirt. Rocks surround where he is standing. Green leaved trees add color against the light blue sky in the background. The creek surface shows up a dark green as it reflects the tree images. Light reflects off the rippled water near his feet. He pulls back on the rod and snap, the shutter opens and closes. Got it!! I take another picture of him holding the 12” brown in the net. He’s squatted down looking at the camera as the net dangles just a few inches from the water surface. I take another picture of the trout being released in the water. We catch a few more top feeders and get back to the van and head to my house.
“How was that, Damon?”
“Alright, pa-pa Jerry”
“You think you’d want to learn how to cast and fly fish?”
“Think you’ll catch some trout tomorrow”
“Well, I think so”
What a pleasant surprise. The Second week of June, there we are fishing in the sun. The trout stream all to ourselves and I get the chance to have my grandson bring some trout in on a fly rod. Just being at the right place at the right time and being prepared. Looks like I got a future fly-fisherman started. I can’t wait until next year.