If you know my husband (or have been reading this blog for any length of time), you know that Ryan is a fly fishing junkie. He started fly fishing when he was a kid, fished all through college and law school and sneaks off multiple times a year to exotic locations to fish. He will talk about fly fishing to anyone that will listen, offer to take you and teach you if you don't know how. He even gave me waders for Christmas the first year we dated as an attempt to inaugurate me into his world. He fly fished out East on our very first vacation together, in Hawaii on our post-bar celebration trip, on our wedding day in Jackson Hole, on our honeymoon in Belize and in Vail on our first anniversary trip. Needless to say, fly fishing is a significant part of who he is and has been a huge part of our relationship.
Ryan serves on the Board of Directors of Trout Unlimited's Gateway Chapter in St. Louis and this year they held a youth outing to teach kids how to fly fish. Unlike regular (spinning rod) fishing, fly fishing requires a lot more skill and technique for casting, so it's not as easy for a little kid (or me) to get the hang of. TU held the event at a place called Westover Farms, where the streams are small and stocked with trout. Westover Farms has a super cute (although that's probably not the description they would use) section of small stream fishing, which is great for little ones because it allows the kids to fish from the shore without having to wade in the water. The stream is full of catch and release rainbow trout, making it perfect for beginners.
Since the moment we found out we were having a boy, my husband has been dreaming of the day when he can take his son fly fishing for the first time. In the last year, Mac has become quite a good little fisherman on a spinning rod. He loves casting, watching his bobber, setting the hook and reeling in fish (whether real or imaginary...doesn't really matter to him). The TU youth event was aimed at kids between the ages of 6-15, but Ryan was confident that Mac (at 2) was ready! Ryan got Mac his very first fly rod and they began practice casting in the street in front of our house. Mac did pretty well, but his attention span is about 35 seconds long, so it was iffy whether he'd be ready for an all-day fishing event, but Ryan again had faith in his progeny. So, on the morning of the event, we packed up the kiddos and headed down the highway to Westover.
Most of the kids there were quite a bit older than Mac and I'm sure the other parents probably thought we were a little crazy to bring a preschooler (and a baby) to this event. And actually, I was a little nervous myself, but Mac was so excited to be there with his daddy and fly fish for the first time. It was adorable and I was thrilled to be there to capture the moment. I strapped Mim on my back in the carrier and got my camera out and ready as the boys got their gear together and headed toward the stream.
Ryan got Mac set-up and ready and they began to fish. Ryan is such a patient teacher when it comes to fishing. He showed Mac where to cast and how to watch the indicator. He put him in the right spot and pointed out the fish. And then (because Mac's like me and insists on doing everything BY HIMSELF) he just let Mac go. Mac would cast and watch as his line floated downstream. Then he'd recast and watch, like he'd been fishing all his life. And just like that, our little 2 year-old fishing prodigy caught and landed his very first rainbow trout on a fly rod!
The entire place erupted in applause for Mac as he alternated between reeling in his fish and jumping up and down with excitement. Everyone was stunned that this tiny kid just caught his first fish! Mac was innundated with whistles, clapping and high-fives from all the volunteers. The look on his face was a combination of shock and amazement! But that was nothing compared to the look of joy and pride on Ryan's face.
And with that, Mac was hooked. He wanted more. A lot more. These two spent the rest of the day fishing with quite a bit of success. Mim and I followed them around taking pictures and I was incredibly impressed with Mac's concentration, persistence and enthusiasm over the next 4 hours! He is his dad's boy.
I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...
She wore her fishing gear too.
Trout Unlimited is a not-for-profit organization with the the goal to protect, reconnect, restore and sustain cold-water fisheries across the country. They depend on local donations to help fund their grassroots efforts to protect more than 10,000 river miles nationwide and pioneer new scientific, legal and legislative tools to make America's rivers cleaner and healthier. If you'd like to make a donation, please visit their website.