A clear, cold day was the perfect backdrop for a 3 1/2 hour stint standing shin to hip deep in the South Holston River accompanied by my brother and my 82-year old Dad. I couldn't have asked for a better day even if we didn't catch fish, but we were more lucky than that. I have no pictures from today's fishing trip, but I will share a pic of Dad on a trip earlier this year.
This is the man that had me in the waters of the North Carolina mountains when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. At that time we were spin fishing with a 3-barbed lure that was gold with red spinners (well, at least one of them was red--that part of the memory is a little fuzzy.) I can see it vividly in my mind's eye all these years later. It was this early exposure to the joys of outdoor activities that has impacted my life in such an important way.
We almost always caught fish then, and we almost always catch fish now, but our weapon of choice has changed. Today we exclusively use a fly rod, and casting it is a constant battle to produce that perfect loop and lay it quietly on the water with the precise upstream mend. Always a work in progress, but everything I know about fly-fishing, I learned from him.
I caught 7 browns and bows today, but the choice of bug was another continual challenge. We had to work for these fish today except right at the beginning of the day when they first turned the generators off and the water receded. Fish hit quickly during those first few minutes. At the time, I had on a blue-wing olive dry with a blue-wing olive nymph tied on below it. After a few of those hitting only the nymph, and one really nice fish breaking my tippet, I had lost the only two Dad had tied for me. After seeing a large sulphur on the water, I switched to a light colored sulphur with a zebra midge as my dropper. The midge caught the eye of a couple of fish too, but I never caught a fish on any dry fly I tied on today--and it wasn't for lack of trying!
I am so thankful for every day I get to spend on the water, especially those spent with my dad. I fully realize how fortunate I am that he is not only still here, but able to fish. Every outing could be our last together, but I will always treasure the time I spend with him and the skills and pleasures in nature that he has shared with me.