My Dads first fish on the fly

February 2, 2010


My uncle Daren was with my Dad the first time he caught a fish on the fly.  A short time after that he wrote down the experience.  After we went fishing last week he sent it to me.  I had never read it before and not to be to emotional but I did cry reading it because I know how my Dad was and how special that moment must have been.  Below is Daren’s experience and feelings on that day.

Even I was surprised at the sudden onset of fly-fishing fever my brother-in-law John Ramey had contracted. I’d seen it in many; heck, I’ve been the carrier of this illness, affecting several of my friends. But John had long been immune. As extended family, we often vacationed at places that I’d only dreamed of going with fly-fishing friends. We went to Yellowstone nearly every year, and John would watch me fly-fish the Firehole, the Gardner, or the Yellowstone, or participate via spinning rod while I float-tubed Yellowstone Lake’s generous waters. It was his annual fishing excursion, to wet the line for a couple of hours for free in a national park.

That year, something just “broke” in him, and the peaceful subtleties of competing against the fish aroused something in him. He bought a fishing license, and began spin-fishing after work and on weekends. He was excited to tell me about his fishing sorties, be they successful or not. I was intrigued, knowing that this is a bad sign if one wants to only “dabble” in fishing.

As the cool evenings of spring stretched into the sultry evenings of pure summer, John continued spin-fishing. He also made up his mind to purchase some fly-fishing gear. “Nothing super special, mind you. Just some gear to get me going, but not so expensive that I’ll feel guilty if I decide I don’t like it after all,” he reasoned. This was his last vestige of rational fiscal thought as a fisherman before he was sucked into the vortex of fly fishing, and fly fishing gadgets, forever.

But as the summer grew old and one’s dreams switched to pitching baetis patterns to hungry fall spawners, John had yet to catch that first trout on a fly. He had tied his own flies, bought some more, watched videos, and paid dues on a bushel of streams, but so far the fishing gods had yet to smile upon his offerings. “What am I doing wrong, Daren?” he asked.

“Absolutely nothing, John. It took me three months to catch anything besides a willow branch when I started, and that was a 4-inch brookie on the Gardner near the Indian Creek Campground in the Park. It was another three months before I took my first “first-string” fish, a 10-inch Provo River brown. But it will happen to you sooner than that.”

That summer, John switched from one source of frustration to another. He was building his own cabin. I helped him a lot, and we talked a lot about fishing while pounding nails and leveling deck boards. We discussed theory mainly, how trout leave a tell-tale bubble behind if they’re feeding off the surface, how it pays to figure out where the brown will run before you hook him, and how a bow-and-arrow cast will put flies into places a fish never expects to see an artificial.

One fall Saturday afternoon, we stopped along a small creek on the way home from his cabin site. I had fished this stretch many times, and knew there were trout residing in its slightly cut banks, basketball-sized rocks, and gentle riffles. The conditions were optimal: it was cloudy, warm, and the water was low and clear. I saw a few caddis dancing above the riffles, and saw a couple of snouts break the water to slurp them in. Although I had my gear, I chose to be a guide for the day, at least until John netted that first fish.

We rigged up at the car, and carefully made our way to the stream. We approached this stretch from downstream. I was asking a lot of questions, like , “Where does the main current go?” “Are there side swirls out of it?” “Where’s the deepest part of the creek?” I asked him what he’d use in this situation, and his choice was a good one: a #12 Royal Wulff. He knew as I that these fish weren’t terribly choosy and that a 12 would ride well on the riffle and would be easy to see amidst the swirls. He tied it on. I stood to his non-casting side, about twenty feet to port. I watched the fly, while he focused on placing it in the slow lane of the current freeway, about six inches from the bank.

A trout hit it immediately, but John was slow on the take and missed the fish. He had done this enough to know what happened, so he just false-casted a few times and tried putting the fly in the same spot. Sometimes he was right on, sometimes he was a few inches off. This time of year, location wouldn’t be critical on this water. I knew he would be successful.

A trout sipped the Wulff in, and John was quick on the set. I instantly began screaming like a Little-League parent: “Keep your rod tip up! Get him on the reel! Keep him out of the logs below!” All these were fine tips if the trout had been a fish measurable in pounds, not inches. This didn’t matter in the least. I beamed as John gently towed the 9-inch brown in close to his legs. He cradled it close to the water, and I captured the moment with his disposable camera. This picture, along with the fly, now sits behind a picture frame on a wall in his living room.

John returned his trophy to its wild home. Now what happened next may not have been a guy thing, but it was a fisherman thing: he hugged me. He thanked me for my help, and the mist in his eye let me know how much it meant to him. It meant a lot to me, too, for the feeling of immense satisfaction I felt right then told me that this fish was the most satisfying trout I have ever caught or ever seen caught. I smiled at him, and said “You’re welcome. Now let’s catch some more!” I knew I’d never fish alone in Yellowstone again.

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5 Responses to “My Dads first fish on the fly”

  1. Big Hoss Says:

    You have got to love those glasses. Chubbs would know how it is waring glasses like that.


  2. Travis Says:

    Great writing, I felt like I was there watching the whole experience. UR dad is a great guy to past the sport on to you and now you to ur kids.


    Big Hoss Reply:

    ya, my uncle is a great writer. I wish my dad was still around so that he could come with us all the time. I am sure he would have come on the Frenzy as well.


  3. chubbsypeterson Says:

    I would for sure love those glasses.
    Big Hoss, your dad seemed like a stud and great dad! I wish i could have met him.


    Big Hoss Reply:

    those glass do remind me of yours.


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