Most children pick up the love of fly fishing from their Mom or Dad early on and the obsession only grows from that point. Because I came to fly fishing through a friend in Montana, I got to flip the traditional roles and be the one to get my parents hooked, (pun totally intended) when they last visited.
As we cruised down Gallatin Canyon, the conversation flowed between what was happening in South Dakota, to some aspects of fly fishing, to how teaching was going for me this year. We had gotten the political discussions out of the way the night before, so we could relax into a day without having to think about the future of the nation. While teaching my parents the basics of fly fishing was a highlight of this visit, I value these chances to listen to them and seek their wisdom most. While I certainly didn’t think so as a teenager, my parents have a lot of wisdom between the two of them and I would be a fool not to heed their guidance.
When we finally got off the highway and slowly made our way over the pitted road, the conversation stopped. I looked in my rear view mirror as my Mom gazed out the window, clearly enamored with the environment around her. Even my wisecracking Dad found pause and took in the creek and mountains as the sun warmed the grass and gave a glow to everything. We rolled down the windows and saturated ourselves with the scent of pine.
After the rods had been set up, I explained the basics of casting and helped my parents get started. To assist, I laid my hat in the middle of our practice area as a target. Of course we experienced knots of all shapes and sizes. I realized, however, that these two had helped me navigate many of life’s figurative knots and that the least I could do for them is untangle whatever messes they may make in their fly lines.
We spent the day fishing up and down the creek with little success. Even with the lack of nibbles, every time I looked over at my Mom or Dad they each had a toothy smile pasted onto their faces. Occasionally, I could hear my Dad make some smart-alecky comment to my Mom and her retort with her own wit. I realized that these two are one hell of a team.
I knew it was about time to go when I heard my Dad’s stomach grumble and I had run out of granola bars to tide us over. I expressed my disappointment at not getting them into any trout. My parents, however, seemed to view the day as a total success, no matter the fish count. As my Mom explained as we were driving out,
“We got to learn how to cast a fly rod and spend the day with our Daughter, I’d call that a win.”