April 7th, 2008

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Alex's List
By: John White (White43)

Foldenhour's 14-year-old nephew, Alex, spent the first Friday of his Spring Break wondering why. Why wasn't he in Florida? On a beach? Why wasn't he in his family room playing video games? Why was he sitting and shivering on an upturned plastic pickle bucket in the middle of the St. Croix River all alone staring at an ice hole?

"There was," he said, gazing at my fly tying vise later that evening, "nothing going on."

This sent the Afton Ace on a short tirade. "Nothing going on? Why there were bald eagles flying over. Down the ice were hundreds of geese flying in and out. Below was a whole world of activity. Crappies and bluegill, walleyes and sauger, pike and channel catfish, all swimming around. All of that incredible insect life coming to life. Don't talk about nothing happening!"

Ah, so here is Foldenhour playing the role of Professor Henry Higgins of the grand outdoors in this odd production of "My Fair Nephew!"

The kid was moved. He worships the ground his Uncle Foldenhour walks on, and is coming to realize there is a whole different world outside of his comfy suburban Des Moines home. Whether it's the timing or pure coincidence, Foldenhour and Alex are taking this "Take a Kid Fishing" thing to the max.

For Foldenhour, it's more than fishing. It's hunting wild turkey, whitetailed deer and asparagus; seeing glimpses of eagles - it's the outdoors and life far beyond the thumb games of the young and innocent. Evidence of this transformation, in fact, was a list taped to the cabinet door of Foldenhour's kitchen - this kid is, even at this age of blossoming, a confirmed list maker - noting his wishes for an upcoming birthday, Christmas and Hanukkah.

Besides his moments on the St. Croix, and later on Mille Lacs and West Lindstrom, the kid is getting a 24-hour Spring Break education on wild turkey hunting, chasing deer, and all of the other things shown on Foldenhour's favorite outdoors channels. It's working. A quick glance at the list indicates the awakening.

    1. Wild Turkey Call.
    2. Deer Stand.
    3. Ladder to Deer Stand.
    4. Camo.
    5. Bow. (Mom, it's called a compound.)
    6. Insulated boots (this was duly recorded after his long, long day on the St. Croix ice).

As we chomped down a chicken and artichoke heart pizza and sipped some delicious red wine, Alex watched with deep interest as a strip of rabbit pelt became a fly. Moments later a grouse feather magically became another type of fly, both coming with instructions on how to fish them for spring bluegill.

Alex was a willing and eager student. He was quickly creating lists of ingredients and steps for the making of each of the flies.

"Those are called 'recipes,'" I told him.


"Yep, same as with food."

Along with the flies came the stories. Old tales told between friends. Stoking a fire in the wood stove amid the laugher. We have some good ones, and Foldenhour is a fine story teller. Meaning, of course, there is some fine tuning and embellishment along the way.

And, just like Eliza Doolittle under the tutelage of ol' Professor Higgins, Alex soaked it all in. Between Foldenhour's story on my mistaking the mating call of grouse for a pre-dawn heart attack and my sudden disappearance over the back of the canoe in the BWCA, Alex was motioned over. "Wanna tie one of these?"

"Wow! Can I?"

He pulled up a kitchen counter stool to watch over my shoulder as I started the thread, and several moments later we were looking over a simple and completed fly.

"Now it's your turn," and we traded places.

Alex had no sooner started when he said, "But, I'm left handed."

Now that put a whole new spin on things. These are moments when you thoroughly appreciate the talents and patience of teachers. While you couldn't fathom a more willing student, try teaching someone how to do something completely backwards. I would show him a step, then Alex would turn the vise around to mimic what I had done and unwrap the step. Both of us had hands of thumbs. Finally it came down to this. "Alex. I'll show you how to do it, then you do it just the opposite."

"Doggone it," snapped Foldenhour, "you're making a liberal out of him!"

"I'm already liberal, Uncle Matt," said the kid nonchalantly.

"What does politics have to do with this?"

"It's just the thought," said the Ace.


Somehow we made it through our first fly, then he tied a second on his own. He was quick on the uptake, and was eager for more. We tied a second, then a third pattern.

As a fly emerged we'd talk about how it was fished, which would then lead to another story. Such as the morning on a nearby lake when we paddled onto some bluegill you might expect to catch in a mature and under-fished farm pond, when our fly rods arched and bounced to a point where we simply had to take a break to rest from the action.

Moments later we were paddling mysterious Fox Lake near Willow River, where we tied into some sassy bass and even spunkier bluegill. As the tales emerged Alex kept his head down and his wrists slowly spinning thread onto another bare hook shank. His flies were improving, and after each was tied it went into a fly box that had somehow magically appeared.

Finally it was time to turn in, and in the morning as Bon Bon readied eggs before the boys headed off for a day of fishing, I happened a glance at Alex's list.

    7. Fly tying kit.
    8. Fly rod.

    Like ol' Higgins said, the kid has promise! ~ JW

Archive of Readers Casts

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice