Monday, August 6, 2018

Could be the most satisfying two days of my guiding carreer..a tale of a Dad and Daughter

                   ( Two days last week that gave me the most emotional joy and satisfaction of my 23 years of guiding- teaching a young lady the joys of fly fishing with her talented fly fishing father as he watched with joy in his heart-beyond words!)

I have had thousands of days in my 23 years of my guiding/Gillie-hood in Michigan and around the world that were truly spectacular- and a few that I was glad to forget. They are full of epic  big fish and numbers catches,big hitter fly casters and legends, celebrity clients, world record fish, insane and challenging conditions, harrowing brushes with weather,  death ,wild animals, Russian mafia AK-47's in the Kola Taiga, Deliverance-like stalking from "inbred cretans" in the Podunk backwoods...you name it!-I've seen it all ! 

But the last two days I spent with a father and daughter, who were experiencing the emotional bonding and joy that fly fishing and down-time from the hectic pace of electronically driven constant barrage society only to escape them,  are the moments I cannot put into words, but only a tear and a warm felling in my heart to those moments. 

It is now, in my emotional halcyon days of reminiscing of my youth in western New York's Allegheny foothill spring creeks and my Dad's Polish farm tree house on the Wieprza river and its beautiful colored browns, that I think back to those days and how they now inspire me to my passion and love of teaching the joys of trout and the fly, and those special places they live in- it is beyond word

                     ( Dad Bill and 15 year-old daughter Liv whom I had the pleasure of teaching/guiding this past weekend)

When Bill called me and booked two days to teach his daughter Olivia the fine art and joys of fly fishing, I relished the challenge. It only took me a good 15 years to "chill out"to finally figure out the needs, desires, pace and emotions of young people getting into the sport and how to make it fun, relaxing and no pressure, which they love and what most parents cant do ! The intensity a parent delivers to their offspring to learn sometimes is too overpowering, thus an intermediary guide /instructor can accomplish the task because we have learned to "chill" and take it slow and easy which works 100% of the time. To say that Olivia was a natural talent is an understatement. Being an avid volleyball player, I find most young adults and youth who play eye/hand coordination sports: baseball, Lacrosse, hockey, tennis , golf etc., do extremely well and learn very quickly and with fluidity and muscle memory- Liv embodied this!
                         ( Liv with her first rainbow and brown trout- she was hooked for life!- and her dad couldn't have been prouder!

Dad Bill was an advanced and outstanding fly caster and tactician, having worked in a fly shop when younger for the late-great Miles Chance Orvis in Okemos, MI. Since the weather finally cooled off with rain and we had a few upper 50F nights, I decided to teach Olivia the joys of a big water /tailwater scenario one morning, and the intricacies of small micro spring creeks the next. We started our days at the crack of dawn :6AM, which wasn't easy on a 15 year old girl on summer break, but she was ready with her Patagonia attire and Orvis gear. My first morning I let dad go and do his thing as I gave Liv a school session in the dynamics of the cast and how "less is more" in her casting execution. In years did I never see someone pick up the fluidity of the stroke and rod load in such a graceful and effortless fashion- she was relaxed , I was in awe and very shortly she was making tight-loop cast with no effort. Before I could help it , I was teaching single hauling and down-and-across reach casting and BINGO!- she was catching her first trout, as I taught her how to strip-set hook and fight fish.

What was truly a memorable event, was that a massive caddis hatch was underway at 11 AM and every trout in the river was on top and chomping pupae and adults ( first big caddis hatch of the year that always starts like clockwork first week of August, and was over a half hour after it started and as we quit early to avoid stressing the trout as waters warmed ( coldest water is very early from nighttime bubler and cooling btw-not evenings that retain warm water heated up from the day!). All we did for two days was dry fly fish: caddis, tricos and terrestrial hoppers and ants, and watched every trout,  a couple big ones, but most smaller, come up for our offerings which Olivia watched every take and died for- she was so hooked !
( a couple of nice 15 inch brownies Bill caught that couldn't resist my new caddis tear-drop pupae- they were chowing caddis in a crazed frenzy despite the sun- blew me away, and I would never have thought that would happen!-I just wrote a book about photophobia in browns  dang it!)

The next day we headed up a little spring creek not far from the lodge and caught gorgeous wild browns and brookies on terrestrials- it was a gas! We quit by 12 noon because of the heat, but the water we were fishing was low-50F at most. After 40 or so trout in two days, we were all exhausted from this fairy tale book two days- EPIC is not enough to describe our days on the water.

( The beautiful wild browns and brookies of our next day's spring creek adventure-these browns were the first stocked in the western hemisphere from Germany in 1883- truly #groundzerotrutta....and the brookie was there for millions of years!- how cool is that? )


SO...parents, take your children and young adults fly fishing. Our amazing freshwater wonderland of Michigan's Great Lakes and rivers is one of the most unique ecological masterpieces that our trout, steelhead and salmon thrive in amazing abundance and wild populations. Give them to all the talented Michigan guides/instructors ( we are the best on the planet bar none since our fisheries are so diverse and demand excellence in every tactical venue ) that can teach them in a relaxed "chill" manner ( children often and unfortunately repulse their parents instruction- its just fact, and nothing you can do about it!)
As your children grow up, go away for educations. have families and jobs....fly fishing is a holy and emotional way to bring families together, to bond and relax, catch up on life and let it all go!- It's a beautiful thing!...Amen! 
At the Gray Drake, we pride ourselves on making families that fish together, love together and have fulfilling supporting lives no matter what road life leads us on. Our legacy is Pure Michigan, pure wild rivers, lakes and fish that is all waiting for every family to explore.
(Olivia in her spring creek wonderland- Pure Michigan perfection!)