WHAT DID YOU CATCH TODAY?
Greenhill Park sits at the southern end of the city, is the place for games of soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, and cricket, and encompasses fields that would allow simultaneous activities for all of these activities. The park also hosts an elaborate Renaissance Faire complete with period costumed revelers, tents with flying banners, jousting and other medieval games. Another major event is their Kite Flying weekend including everything from homemade two-foot paper creations to ornate professional fifty-foot dragons. Stanchioned grills and picnic tables are available on a first come first serve basis. The roofed picnic shelter is available by reservation only.
It is a place of solitude, an arena of multiple activities that harbors a new greenway that traverses the river for a measured mile inside its boundaries and is a haven from storms of weather or of life. Depending upon the time of year and the activities that are scheduled in the park, one may fish in harmony with running water or running bases with the accompanying din of the competitors.
The river in the park section is stocked with rainbow and brown trout on a regular basis and is catch and release area only from 1 October to the end of May. Because of the higher summer temperatures, folks are encouraged to keep any trout caught starting June 1 through to the end of August.
On the particular day recalled there were no other fly fisherman within sight of the picnic area and I opted to start at a juncture of swifter flows with an abutting VW "beetle" sized boulder guarding the far undercut bank. It is not an easy drift if your intention is to try to float some hairy creation from your tying bench through the tranquil lie just above the car boulder. There are conflicting currents and water too swift for a close up cast and too deep to wade into for a high sticking run in the area. However, if one could manage to drop a puddle cast into the small window of calm about four feet above said rock the reward usually was a tight line hook up. It once was a twenty-inch hook jawed brown.
This day it was frustration and a bite only from a submerged log. I decided to fish downstream with the intention of stopping at the picnic area for a rest and drink break.
Unfortunately, this area is frequented by families and young adult's intent on wading in the water or more likely throwing pebbles to small missile sized rocks into the river. Unexpectedly, this time the area was unoccupied.
On most occasions I have never had much luck here as the area is shallow and there is not much cover for any fish except maybe minnows. Still, as my father-in-law used to tell me, "Don't overlook any areas and fish all the water, shallow or not."
Therefore, following that sage advice I always drifted something through there and considered it another opportunity to sharpen my casting skill, feeble as it may be. I heard some noise behind me coming from the picnic area and slightly turned to see a young boy of about eight running towards the water and trailing behind was, I supposed, mom and dad. They yelled at him to slow down and do not throw anything into the water as there is a man fishing there now. How thankful I was to hear such advice as the normal procedure was a pitched hail of rocks followed by large splashes and retreating fish or so I supposed if there really was any there.
Suddenly my line slowed and momentarily stopped, I finally recovered enough from the amazement of a possible take to set the hook, and it was fish on! I heard the little boy, by now at water's edge; shout to his folks, "Mom, dad he's got a fish on."
They yelled back, "Well don't bother him right now."
I turned and loudly asked the parents what the boy's name was and they said Robert. Then I asked them if it would be okay if Robert could land this trout as it was putting up quite a battle and had me about all tired out. They said it would be okay; so, I waded to the edge of the river and handed my rod to Robert while asking him if he knew how to reel in a fish. He assured me that he did and the miracle of it all was it was still on the line.
He was cranking the reel fairly well but the eight and a half foot rod was pretty stout for him to handle although he was able to keep the tip up with some coaching. The possibly ten-inch rainbow was almost close enough to land when it suddenly threw the hook and darted back out into the river.
Robert was very disappointed and told me he was sorry it got away. I said that if I had a nickel for every one that got away from me I would be rich and that seemed to placate him somewhat. I told Robert and his parents I would cast out again and see what happens. I thought the chances of hooking another trout in this same area were close to zero or even less than that. As I mentioned before, catching trout in this particular spot was rarely if ever accomplished. Nevertheless, not wanting to disappoint Robert, I dutifully drifted a line through the shallow water and then the miracle happened.
Once again - "Fish on Robert! Come here and see if you can land this one."
Handing off the rod I said a silent prayer, "Please let Robert land this one."
After a hefty short-lived battle, Robert finally slid the trout almost to the edge of the sandy area of the run. He wanted very much to get his hands on that fish. He handed me the rod and attempted to land the fish by hand. Before I could say a word, his mom spoke up and said, "Robert you can't touch that trout unless you first moisten your hands and if you can unhook him don't take him out of the water."
To say I was astonished is putting it mildly. It seems like mom was well versed in the art of trout handling. Robert did as she told him and was able to remove the hook by himself and released the trout carefully. We all watched it swim back out in the river and head for the far side.
The excitement of landing his first trout had Robert firing questions to both myself and mom and dad.
"What kind of fishing pole is that? Can I get one like it too? Do they cost very much? When can we come back here and fish? Maybe a dozen or more questions followed in rapid succession.
Mom, dad and I attempted to answer all the queries as fast as we could. Dad asked me what a rod would cost and I told him that our T.U. Chapter usually gave a complete outfit as a door prize at one of the Kid's Fishing Rodeo's that we participate in and it's usually priced at about $85.00 to $100.00.
They thanked me for giving Robert the opportunity to experience landing and releasing the trout and Robert thanked me too with a big hug and then shook my hand.
I reached into a couple of fly boxes in my vest and handed over a mix of half a dozen flies including two of my own design that the two trout were caught on. Now Robert starting asking about how to tie flies and we went through a few minutes of the basics. By then it was time for Robert and family to leave the park and he tossed me an over the shoulder goodbye wave as they headed back to their car in the parking lot.
There is a huge Sycamore tree there at water's edge with a tremendous many fingered root ball protruding from its base. It seemed like a good time to take a break, sit on this natural seat for a bit, and ponder the wonders of what just happened.
Knowing that there would be questions from family and friends about what I caught today, I wondered how to answer the question:
"WHAT DID YOU CATCH TODAY?"
Well - the first thing I caught was some unforgettable memories.
The second thing may be an avid fly fisherman in the making.
Third were the warm thanks, handshake and hug from Robert and his parents.
And last, the realization that passing on just one small gesture for all the help you've received over the many years leaves you feeling that you really caught the true sense of what sharing is all about.