August 4th, 2008

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

A First Time Fly Fishing
By Dr. Hugo M. Gibson, (Thunderthumbs)

The smell of frying bacon permeated the kitchen, rivaled only by the aroma of a freshly brewed pot of Columbian coffee. It was 4:45 in the morning and I was cooking breakfast for myself, my good friend, Wade, and his 15 year old nephew, Devon. This wasn't just your average trout fishing trip, this was Devon's first ever trout fishing trip and fly fishing experience, a very special day.

The scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, washed down with the coffee, were gone before we knew it. I loaded my gear into Wade's car, climbed in and we were off. I don't think you could ask for a more picturesque sunrise to mark what was to be the spectacle to come. The sun went from pink to orange to purple, lighting up and making the mist that lay in the valleys glow along with its changing colors. It was like a scene straight out of Hollywood movies. I could almost hear the music in the background.

Our trip would be taking us to Bennet Spring State Park in South Central, Missouri. Not what anyone would call "classic" trout fishing, but it's a great place to get a young man excited about fly fishing for trout. With all the rain that has graced Missouri this year, the stream has been blown out and murky, to the point that you sometimes couldn't see the bottom in only a foot of water. The fishing had been very tough on my previous trips down there this year, but I was still optimistic that we would at least be able to get Devon into some fish. To say I was relieved that the water was down a little bit, and clear enough to sight fish, would be a tad of an understatement…this was going to be good.

We got our daily fishing tags, rented Devon some waders…with size 14 boots, and then headed up to the spring to have a look-see. We couldn't have asked for much better conditions, ok, we could have, but we likely wouldn't have gotten them. We geared up and hit the water. Wade spent some time with Devon pointing out some fish, where the spring was so he would know were not to go, and showed him how to fish a nymph. In only a few minutes Devon had it down to an art and was fishing every inch of water like a pro. The fishing was good, the catching however, left a little to be desired, and I could tell that Devon was beginning to get a little discouraged. Not long after that I started landing a few fish, a few rather nice fish for Bennet. I slowly made my way over to where Devon was fishing to see how he was doing and if I could answer any questions for him. I saw that he was using a full 9 foot tapered leader and struggling just a little with his line control, so I asked to take a look at his set-up. I showed him how I usually set up my rod for nymph fishing and asked if he would like me shorten his leader for him a bit. He readily agreed, so I took off his leader, tied on a 4 foot length of 7X tippet, one of the flies I was using and a small splitshot to help get the fly into the drift zone.

We waded out into the water in search of a fish to entice. He had picked a fantastic spot that had a nice shallow pocket loaded with some really nice looking fish. I gave him a few pointers, and showed him how I fish with a short line and a nymph. As luck would have it, with my second or third drift, one of those respectable trout thought my fly was just the ticket, much to Devon's delight. His confidence soared so much that it was visible in his whole body. It was his turn to give it a try, and with just a few drifts under his belt, he had his first take. In his excitement he grabbed the reel when the fish took off on its first run, and promptly snapped the light tippet. If he was disappointed, you would never have known it. The next thing I knew he was pointing out all the fish he wanted to catch with a fevered pitch in voice that was quite contagious. With a new fly tied on, and a few drifts later, he had another hook-up, and this time was able to land his first trout ever. It was a very pretty 12 or 13 inch rainbow that had large dark markings all the way down its back. He held if for a few moments, marveling at how soft it was, and how slimy. I managed to snap a few pictures of him fighting it, and then a quick one before it slipped back into the water. I don't think Wade or I could have knocked the smile off of Devon's face with a 14wt. It was purely amazing to see the transformation that took place after he released his first trout.

I stayed with him for a few more minutes to linger in the moment for just a little longer. It was clear that he had a good handle on what he was doing, so I moved off down the stream just a few yards to see if I could fare as well as Devon had been doing. I did pretty well, but it was Devon who had the hot rod that day. Wade had a pretty good day of fishing too. All in all, we took home five trout. Devon desperately wanted to eat some of his catch, who was I to argue.

The trip home seemed to take longer this time. Maybe it was the vivid, fresh memories of all the fat, larger than normal trout we had just caught, and the hordes of trout we left behind, and maybe it was the pleasure and pride that Wade and I felt as we watched Devon transform into a fly fisherman, whatever it was, we were sad to be leaving. Devon though, wasn't feeling a thing. He was out like a light, propped up in an awkward looking position that can only mean one thing: he'd just had one heck of a day fly fishing for trout.

I have seen a few things in all my travels around the world that are difficult to describe with words, that trip is the newest on the list. I consider it a great honor to have had Devon as a fishing partner for the day, and to have been a small part of what I hope is a memorable chapter in his life. I can say with great confidence that he is a fine young man with a bright future ahead of him…thanks for letting me go fishing with you, Devon. ~ HMG

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