Thursday, February 19, 2015

We Fish - Part 2

       The kids are quieter now. They’re focused. The practice and training kicks in and they are intent on the mission. There’s nothing but wide open country for twenty miles in any direction. There are blackbirds in the willows and the sound of rushing water. The first strike comes unexpectedly. The tip of the rod dips hard and the fight is on. Little hands are working furiously on the reel while the fish moves in all directions. I do my best to remain silent and let them do it themselves. It must seem like eternity for a child trying to land a fish, but they do it themselves and they tremble with the adrenaline rush. So do I. They look back at me for approval and I
couldn't be happier. They could care less if the fish were 20 inches long or 3 inches long. They care only that they caught these fish, and that they did it on their own without help from dad.

       The scene is repeated the next day on the Greys and the following day on the Wind. By now, they’re tiring and it’s time to give it a rest. Late nights and early mornings are taking their toll. We pick wild raspberries and we smell moose. We carry bear spray and we talk about what to do if we see one. We talk about the country and the rivers and the things that make this such a special place. It’s not really about catching fish. It’s the entire experience that they thrive on and they have done a great job. By the end of the week they are three-fourths of the way to finishing their Cutt-Slams, with three sub-species down and one to go.
 Next year we’ll make the trip to the Bear River country to catch Bonneville cutthroats. Both Spunky and Bubba are already making plans on where we should camp and where we will fish and all the different gear we are going to need. They talk on the way home about how the Ranger and the Apprentice have their Cutt-Slams. They talk about how cool it will be to get theirs, too. It’s a good feeling for all of us. I am one delighted father and I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to spend time in what our family calls the Home Place with those I love. A wise person once said “give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.” I hope I have done my job in teaching these little anglers how to tie knots and
read the water. . I pray they will take those skills and feed the spirits of their own families. I hope I have instilled in my children an appreciation for wildlife and wild lands. I hope my children will teach others the importance of respecting the land. But most of all I hope they know that I love them and am proud to be their father.

-Long Rifle