Corruption of a son
It's been cold in MD since the first of the year.
I had decided in December to spend gift and bonus money to upgrade from my starter outfit to premium 5 & 8-wt rods and reels (it's painless to spend "someone else's money"). It took from mid-December to March 1 to arrange for the "local" (1.5 hours away) shop to get in what I wanted to try out and buy. Finally brought it home. The forecast showed 60+ degrees for this Saturday (today), so I got real itchy.
But my wife had taken our daughter to PA for 2 nights for a robotics competition, leaving me in charge of our 11yr-old son and dog. 2 previous outings with him with spinning gear had not gone well, so leaving them home or dragging them out to fish seemed like poor, selfish plans.
My son is a couch potato. I brought up the idea of going to a local pond. We could give the dog some walking, he could try fly fishing if he wanted, read a book, and/or play with his Gameboy. To my surprise, he was interested in all of the above.
So, out we went. This is a small pond hidden behind a suburban neighborhood, doesn't get much attention, but is full of small blue gill and large-mouth bass, perfect to my liking. It is nicely wooded, but has some places with some room for a back cast. Thanks to my brother in-law, I "discovered" and have played with this pond for 1.5 years, and have learned to be very successful with small foam beetles with centipede legs. I'm still pretty new to fly fishing.
Thankfully, he was afraid of hurting the new gear, so we set up the old rod. I made a short, stout leader of about 2 feet of 30-lb Hyflote mono and 18 inches of 3x tippet to help avoid tangles and casting trouble (similar things helped doom the previous outings). On went the favorite #16 beetle, last orange one left.
We went to the sweet corner with the best casting room and where there are always lots of small gills, good for some action only 10 feet out. I got him started with short casts, and he steadily improved. But nothing. Not a sign of life. At one point, I had explained and demonstrated the "stop" of casting and generating a casting loop, getting a cast out further. Back in his hands, on the retrieve, 1 or 2 small chasers came in view, then spooked. After awhile, I suggested a break to head off some frustration. I would experiment and cast further out, wondering if all of the fish had died, and maybe I could stir up some interest. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a perfect plan.
I rigged up the new rod/reel, and instantly washed away all fears that I had wasted a lot of money. After just casting the old rod, the contrast of casting the new gear was startling; very sweet stuff, even with a kinda crappy old line (shop did not have in what I wanted, still no sign of the order). But I digress.
I threw a brown-version beetle around a bit. Seemed to stir up a little interest, and finally: "slurp", a very cold but hungry-enough gill to hand. Then another. Their friends began gathering to the commotion. Son came back from reading his book to try some more. I gave him some more tutoring, explaining the proper twitching I had learned most successful. Very shortly, after a good cast and 1 twitch, surprise, a gill hooked and landed. Dude, your first fish on a fly; high-five celebration!
Then another, then some more. We ended the afternoon with his count at six, mine at 10-15. Lots of fun, fresh air, out in "nature", doing stuff together. We saw some geese, ducks, some other kind of floating bird, a horse/rider, and another friendly fellow who was spin fishing for awhile (another score: he was skunked when he left, so we flyers beat the spinners). Even the dog got out for some activity and got a bit wet (lovely golden retriever, motto: "It's a good day if you get wet").
We then rushed home and then 1-minute late to dinner at the parents in-law for lots of boasting and fish tales. Son has gone to bed, but thanked me 5 times for the outing. I think he is hooked. Now to work on the girls...