I am eight years old. I live in Texas, and I fly fish with my dad. I didn’t realize how rare that was until I tried to find someone my age to fish with. Not easy. I started fishing with a spin cast rod and apparently caught my first bass at the age of two. I don’t remember that, but I have a photo. Dad, me, pigtails, and a largemouth. I picked up my first fly rod at the age of four. For a few years my dad would carry a spinning rod and a fly rod for me. When I was six, I caught a large catfish, 37 pounds, which is another story. It was almost as big as me. Soon I had hung my spinning rod in the garage and I have been fly fishing ever since.
It seems like everyone in my family fly fishes. I learned to fly fish in Texas, but my favorite place to fish is a small stream in the Adirondacks where my dad grew up. I have been told that my parents put a jar of garnets from the trail to Hooper Mine under the bed in the delivery room so my dad could always say I was born over Adirondack soil. Every summer I visit my grandparents’ home on top of an Adirondack mountain with my dad. This is where he taught me to catch brook trout and grandma taught me to make wild blueberry pie. In the past, blueberries were always in season while we were visiting.
Fly fishing in the Adirondacks is a family event. Everyone gathers on the large front porch to plan the day over blueberry pancakes and coffee (I drink milk or orange juice). Grandpa makes maple syrup every spring, and breakfast there is a good enough reason to make the 2,000-mile trip. We are never hungry, but the fish are, and flies are how we catch them.
Grandpa enjoys making maple syrup and pancakes, and I enjoy tying flies. I started with woolly buggers and streamers, and now I tie nymphs too. One day maybe I’ll tie dry flies. My dad has plenty of dries for this trip, so I can focus on the fishing. This year we are there earlier than our past trips. Because we are earlier, we brought flies we wouldn’t normally use, but will need at this time of the year. Finding ripe wild blueberries is the challenge. Fortunately, we have enough from last year in the freezer if we need them.
Our journey north was long, but fly fishing helped me learn patience, so I got through it. We arrived early in the morning just before sunrise. I fell asleep, but dad snuck away to scout the action in a nearby beaver pond full of rainbows. This would be the first place on our list to fish.
My dad tied two dozen cream cahills of his own design and the very first cast fooled a hungry trout. I was sad when I lost it during the fight. But, as dad reminded me, there would be a lot more fish lost than we bring to the net. The rainbows in this stretch of water are so hungry that as my second cast hit the water, another rainbow slammed my fly. After several leaps and runs, he was safely in the net. We caught 11 trout that day. They were all rainbows.
The next day grandma pulled a bag of blueberries out of the freezer and we made our pie while we waited for my cousin to arrive. I don’t see her often, so I was very excited. The pie was cooling when she arrived, so we had time to go to my favorite creek. The hike in to the creek is tough, but the fishing is worth it. This creek is full of brook trout, and boulders the size of trucks. We hopped from stone to stone catching brookies. The trees above us grow together from both sides, and this creek is always in the shade. The fast-moving water is cold and the trout love it. We ended the day with 13 brookies caught and released.
The blueberry pie was delicious.
One day, we decided to spend a day exploring new waters. I wanted to see the garnet mine, so Dad put together a loop on the map that would allow us to fish four new places on our way to the mine. Our first stop was a steep bouldery creek full of brown trout. We caught four, but I lost a hopper-dropper in a nasty tangle. On our way to our next creek, we stopped by the Blue Heron Fly Shop where we were given info on our next spot and I refilled my fly box. They have a fly called Maple Syrup that I am excited to try back in Texas. We didn’t catch any fish at our second stop, but it was fun to try.
Our last two stops were where a creek and river come together. This is called a confluence. There were fish there, but we were running out of daylight and I really wanted to see the garnet mine before dark and gather some garnets of my own. We zoomed up the hill on the road following the creek. Somewhere up there was the trailhead to the mine. I found some beautiful stones and headed home for dinner.
Our last river of the trip was a larger one with fast current and deep pools. I didn’t think I would like this one at first. It was wide and fast, and the rocks were slick. Some places were very deep and scary. Dad took me up the bank and showed me the water from above. He showed me that water doesn’t always flow down stream. We fished this river three times while we were there, caught three types of trout, and caught three smallmouth bass. On our last day there, we brought a big group with us. My cousin, uncle, grandma, dad, and me. We had a great day together fishing. I gave one cousin her first casting lesson, while another snapped away on her camera. As I climbed back up the bank and sat in a patch of blueberry bushes, I pulled out my journal to log about the fish I had caught and write about the day. I looked down at the clumps of green berries waiting to blue and thought to myself—