I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in southern Oregon. My nearest friend my age was 1 mile down the road. What connected us was a stream that flowed from our place to his and it was here that we met and became friends. However, it would not have happened without a gift of a rod and reel.
Over the years we spent many hours fishing the stream through all of its phases. It was here that I learned about entomology, trout, steelhead and salmon cycles. It was here that I learned about fly fishing, fly tying and casting. It was here that kept my attention and kept me out of trouble. I learned what poaching does to a fishery. I learned how to evade private property signs.
We walked the banks for hours on end, casting into the pools and eddies that held fish the last time. We would cut a branch from a tree in the shape of a Y and carry our catch along the river. I learned how to fish downstream since I was upstream from my neighbor and he learned how to fish upstream. Today I am still more comfortable fishing downstream. Skating a fly on top of the riffle and watching that big mouth come out of the water and grab the fly was burned into my memory very early.
We fished with a split shot and a fly. The split shot was for flipping the fly into the slots and riffles with a spinning rod and reel. It was not until much later that we took up fly fishing with a fly rod and reel. In the summer months we would collect grasshoppers and caddis flies from their rock cases and flip them into the pools for trout. We never used worms for some reason. They must have been too hard to find.
Flies were easy. Wait for nighttime for my mothers roosters to come into the coop and pluck the hackle feathers from them and off to the vice. The vice was a large vice grip to hold the hook. The flies were basic. Tail, body and hackle wing. Grab some thread from my mothers sewing machine bobbins and we were good! I used finger nail polish for head cement.
So where has this lead? I have a lifetime of fishing and a passion for all things fishing. I have a healthy appreciation of nature and conservation. From my fathers fishing trips to my grandfathers fly fishing trips, they all changed me in a good way. The time I spent with each of them can’t be replaced. I read a quote on a social media site that said “The world needs more tackle boxes and less Xbox’s”. I could not agree more. If you want to have a positive impact on future generations, buy a kid a fishing reel and pole and point them at the river or stream.