"Go ahead Daddy, I'll stay here, I wanna dig up this root!", he said as I fished just a bit further downstream of him, just beyond the reach of his eyes. I had carried him through a small run of water and onto an island of white washed river rock that couldn't have been larger than my son's bed. It didn't need to be any larger. He was the King of this island and it's only inhabitant and these adventurous dreams were real.
I'd handed him the fly rod about a half hour before and he practiced flipping nymphs for maybe five minutes. There was more excitement over the sound of the "ker-plunk" that large stones make as they hit the drink.
"I'll throw them in up here, Dad. I'll spook the fish so they swim down to you, so you fish down there." he instructed me where to go. It was not a bad plan.
"Can you lift up this tree that fell, lean it against this one? I wanna make a shelter!"
There were many of these moments in our short window of time on the stream together. None of which I'll soon forget.
The sun was starting to recede behind the tree line. The unusual warmth of the day which had us in short sleeves was waning. I'd really like to hook a trout for this kid. Oooh, so close. I missed him the first time but I had found the trout's lie.
I hooked him again and my son bounded down the banks. I handed him the rod. He would be the third generation to take a trout on this antique of an instrument. That was something right there. He played and landed a nice hatchery Brown Trout. It didn't fight particularly loudly. It might have known that this would be the boy's first. After reeling in the wrong direction, my son calmed and the fish agreed to come to net.
My son holding his first ever trout on a fly rod.
We soon went home, all smiles. My son ahead of me, skipping and running back up the dusty trail to the car, the faded navy blue cotton of the Derek Jeter Tee-shirt, size small, swimming on his scrawny frame. Surely he wasn't thinking of the fish, the fly rod, the lie, the seam, what have you.
Seven doesn't think about the past or the future. It just lives in the moment, matching curiosity with independence and skips and runs and splashes and does what it darn well pleases.
We could all use a little bit of that.