November 6th, 2000

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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The Fishing Excursion of a Lifetime

By Thomas C. Duncan, Sr.

"Big Fish right there. Do you see him? Right there!"

The words have been spoken in a million different destinations. Were these in particular spoken on the flat, pointing out cruising Bonefish; or Salmon on the Tweed; or man-sized Tarpon down South?

It could be. It could be big Kings on the Sound, Stripers on the Bay, Browns on the Test, Atlantics on the Miramichi, or any number of exotic locals from storied fish, but it isn't. This is a little stream no one has ever heard of near my house. Plenty of people fish it, but it isn't a renowned locale, nor is it too remote. I like it, and my clients like it too.

A ripple breaks the surface.

"Oh - big fish! That's a big fellow!"

I'll admit I'm exaggerating here. There are no substantially sized fish in this stream in the summer. I try not to stretch it, but every now and then I find myself inadvertently over-sizing the estimate. It happens. It isn't as though I'm trying to deceive, but I get carried away. The factual part kicks in with an explanation of what we're seeing:

"He's taking those Callabaetis duns off the surface. Here come one . . . I'll show you."

I swipe one off the surface and show it to my client. He chuckles at the somewhat stubby mayfly and reaches out to take a closer look. Opps! The fly has dried off enough to take flight from my hand, and does so. My client reaches down to pull it from the current, but comes up with only a wet hand. Oh well, it won't be long before that one is a source of protein for a little salmonid.

"I'd use a #16 Adams on 4X. These guys aren't too picky."

My client doesn't reach for his fly box. He just smiles at the fish surfaces again, leaving evidence of his excursion in expanding circles where the Callibaetis was a second ago. My client doesn't seem to have his box with him. Actually, he doesn't have any. He doesn't have a license, either. The only tackle we share between us is a pair of polarized sunglasses to help keep the glare off the water. What are we doing out here, you ask? This is our favorite way to fish!

The reason my client is tackle-less is because he doesn't have any tackle. He doesn't seem to care, though, so that's up to him. He never argues with my observations, and doesn't seem to mind my occasional exaggeration. Is he crazy? No, he's remarkably perceptive, at least for a guy who isn't two years old yet!

My client is my eighteen month old son and he is having a ball. We haven't been out long, but the outing so far has consisted of wildlife viewing (a grey squirrel and some seagull,) explanation of local flora, (he'll smell any flower with utter abandon,) and reading the water. (He likes throwing bigger rocks because they make bigger splashes.) He enjoyed the rising trout and the Callibaetis hatch, and even though we never wet a line, he considers this a successful trip. Yes, and so do I.

You see, I've taken plenty of trips that were of the magazine-story type. There are some nice places in the world where one can enjoy a few days of fantastic fishing, but you miss out on something, even on those expeditions. I brought back some nice memories and some lovely pictures, but those trips didn't really come home with me. I received some entertainment, some people received some money . . .and now it's gone. It's over.

Our little trip is almost over, too. We've only been here an hour or so, but I can see that he is becoming tired, so it is time to go. I point down to the water where that trout has shown himself once again. "Say goodbye to the trout." He stoops down and moves his hand in the familiar clench-and-release motion that is so universal, I'm sure even the water's residents must understand it. The hand reaches up to find mine, and we walk back to the car, in no particular hurry to get there.

My favorite client still needs a little bit of help getting in his car seat. He struggles to pull himself from the ground to the floorboard, then from the floorboard it take a boost from dad to get to the seat before the gymnastics required for a proper seating position. He gets himself seated, then stands again.

My client can't really talk yet, but he makes do with some hand motions. He exercises one now, touching his hand to his chin and flinging it out again with gusto. The meaning is clear - thank you! He reaches his chubby arms out and puts them around my neck. A loud "mwaaa!" plants itself on my cheek, then he sits, waiting for the restraint to be put down. When you client is your baby, what better payment could you receive?

I'm taking this trip home with me. This trip will stay with me because it isn't all about the fish. It isn't necessarily about the waters or the locale. It's about creating a bond, helping from a good citizen, and sharing time with someone you love. He will probably never remember this particular trip. The details will be gone before he returns home, but that doesn't matter. We'll be out here again. That's for sure.

These are the fishing excursions of a lifetime. And we didn't even go fishing! ~ Thomas C. Duncan, Sr. (aka pastortd)


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