Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly his first. Last year Riley hooked and caught a brookie on the fly with help from his dad. But this year the kid decided nine years old was about the right age to pick up a fly rod unaided, and who am I to argue? It will be sad to finally say goodbye to the Scooby-Do rod—we’ve had some good times with that stalwart member of our family angling arsenal. Riley caught trout, bass, steelhead, and even salmon off the beach with the Scooby-Do rod but he’s ready for what he calls a big boy rod.
We practiced on the pond in Colorado while visiting his grandparents. Seeing him throw a 9-foot 5-weight rod is a little comical—he’s dwarfed by the thing—but really no matter how big or heavy the rod, it’s all a matter of timing, and Riley seems to have a pretty good understanding already of what it takes to make a good cast, even in the wind. The first fish surprised us both and after a brief tussle broke the line. We regrouped with another fly and the next fish wasn’t so lucky—it was a big rainbow that Riley released because he wanted to eat a brookie.
The third fish was the hoped-for brookie and now the fight was on. I had the film rolling when—cripes!—my memory card crapped out. Anyway, I managed to catch some of the action and completed the video with a couple stills of his catch, a nice brookie that got pan-fried within the hour.
The next day I took Riley to a stretch of the Yampa River known for its huge rainbows, a tailwater section below Stagecoach Reservoir where tiny flies and fine tippets are the order of the day. Most anglers nymph this stretch, which is to say they fish wet flies subsurface under strike indicators. I’ll nymph if I have to but dry-fly fishing—the excitement of a slashing strike at the surface—is my preference and I figured it would be a better introduction to moving water if Riley could watch the progress of his fly and see how mending his line could make a difference along with all the other skills required to successfully fish a dry fly.
The upshot: more of those dudes hunkered over their #22 RS2s and bobbers ought to try tossing something as unassuming as a #14 parachute adams—it worked for Riley!
Ed. note: I value your comments and will respond to this and previous posts as soon as I return from a week off the grid in the Rogue River Canyon.