The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

April 26, 2014

A happy day I've been waiting on

— One of the happiest days of my life was when our daughter Kelsey was born. From that day I couldn’t wait to take her on her first fishing trip and that chance finally came this past weekend.  I wanted to make sure she was old enough to understand and listen. I knew the time was right when I asked her, “Kelsey, do you want to go fishing?” and she replied with a big “Yea” followed by “Go fishing, Dad.”

Those words coming out of her mouth still put a smile on my face. We talked about how we were going to cast to the fish and hope to catch one on a fly we tied. “Hook them in the mouth?” Kelsey asked since I explained to her that the hooks were sharp.

“Yes, we’re going to hook them in the mouth and then reel them in,” I replied.

Thankfully spring decided to finally arrive and the warm temperatures allowed us to be outside with T-shirts on again. It felt great! On the drive over to the river the only words we heard from the back were “Go fishing?” To which I instantly replied, “Yes, Kelsey, we’re going fishing.”

Once we arrived we suited up, which took a while, and put plenty of snacks and a juice box in the pack. Kelsey wore a life jacket as her fishing vest. On the walk to the river we stopped and picked a trout lily and a daffodil. To say we were all excited by the time we got to the river was an understatement.

Once we reached the river’s edge Kelsey smiled and said “wow” as she looked around. I loaded her in the pack and waded across the river to get out of the sun and onto the shady side. After all that, a juice box and a snack was needed. I rigged up my fly rod and got ready to do what we came for, catch a fish! Tara and I took turns fishing and watching Kelsey.  We collected a few rocks and bugs and found a snail shell while we were waiting on the fish to bite. The fish weren’t cooperating so we moved down to another hole and joined our friends Zach and Cat.

It was early afternoon and a few mayflies started hatching which improved our odds as the fish noticed them as well. I was sitting on a rock beside Kelsey watching Tara fish when all of a sudden her rod doubled over and the fight was on.

 “Look, Kelsey, Mom has a fish,” I said.

We walked down beside Tara and watched her battle the trout. I slid the net under it as Kelsey patiently waited because she wanted to “hold fish.” It was a pretty rainbow trout and I made sure to point out its reddish-pink stripe and gill plate. Tara picked the rainbow up and let Kelsey hold it for a second as I got a quick picture. We put the fish back and told it “bye fish” as it swam away.

It was my turn after that. Of course Kelsey wanted to catch a fish as well. While I fished, Tara let Kelsey use her fly rod. She would cast it out and then let Kelsey hold it. I happened to look down one time and a trout actually took her fly but she didn’t have a clue.

I went back to fishing when Tara started laughing. I asked her what was so funny and she said Kelsey looked at her and said, “No, Mom, leave me alone, I’m fishing. Go get a stick.” She’s stubborn like her mom for sure.

I was throwing to a couple of feeding rainbow trout when the smaller one took my offering. Once I got it on the reel I handed it to Kelsey and let her reel it in. It was a feisty rainbow and put up a good fight. Kelsey was smiling the whole time and once we got it in of course she had to hold it. We thanked the fish and then released it to catch another day.

 By then, we had been fishing for over 3 hours and Kelsey was starting to wear down so we decided to call it a day and go enjoy the evening at the cabin. Although we only caught a couple of fish, it was a great first outing and one we’ll never forget.

We fished for a couple hours the next day as well and had just as much fun. We about stepped on a water snake in which Kelsey told it to “Shoo, go away, snake.” I can’t wait to take her again. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go considering Kelsey is only two years old, but she’s going to be another fly fisherwoman for sure. Take a kid fishing this year and pass on the relaxing pastime. Most of all, enjoy your time together. 

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