Mason was just two years old when I dressed him up for a day at Jump Creek; and he was happy as a clam, buckled in the kid pack cinched tight on my back.
“There it is, man, Jump Creek!” I said happily pointing into the shade under the heavy brush at the small creek. Mason looked under the brush from the back of the pack, one hand clinching down on his favorite toy truck of the day.
“Okay, here we go! To the waterfall!” I said happily to him.
“Okay, here we go! To the waterfall…” Mason repeated, in two year old language.
“Here we go?” I said, and again Mason repeated. I craned my neck back to see him smiling at me. He repeated again, and it was at this moment I realized I better watch my language from now on…
My fly rod was ready when we arrived at the falls, and I set Mason down in the kid-pack to watch me catch a few fish. He didn’t have to wait long.
The opportunistic fish didn’t disappoint, as it came up and nailed my fly in no time.
“It’s a fish!” Mason yelled as the little fish slashed around near my hands.
“Do you like it?” I asked.
“Like it!” Mason said back.
“Okay, we need to let it go.” I said, and the fish slipped from my fingers and bolted away. Mason’s little head whipped fast to follow the fish as it shot into the deep. His eyes were still fixed at the spot where he lost sight of the fish, and as I stood he looked at me and smiled.
After a few more fish I figured it was time for me to give Mason some time to play.
Whenever we are around water, his favorite thing to do is throw rocks in it. Every splash of a thrown rock was like he was seeing it for the first time. His little giggles echoed off the tight canyon walls as he selected rock after rock, his toy truck still in one hand. Suddenly fishing was no longer important to me.
It was actually Mason who asked to see another fish after throwing rocks got less impressive. I placed him back into his pack so that I could keep my eye on the fly, but after the freedom from the pack, Mase was not happy to be back in it. Not even the flip-flop of a fish made him happy. I quickly reeled in and fastened the fly to a ring on the rod and placed the rod safely out of the way in a nearby bush. “Okay, man. Take it easy… here you go.” I said to Mason, taking him out of the pack. His little feet touched the ground, and I had expected him to go right back to picking rocks to throw in the water, but that wasn’t happening. He was still not happy. “Aaaaaaaa…” he yelled with his hand stretched out.
“What’s the matter, man? Don’t you want a rock?” I said, grabbing the nearest rock and handed it to him.
“No!” Mason screeched, damn near batting the rock from my hand.
“What’s wrong, man?” I asked. His hand still stretched out. I quickly looked him over, finding nothing wrong, then looked to where his had was pointed… and I finally saw. Gleaming in the light was the bronze reel attached to a grey unfinished blank of a Superfine Touch.
“You want the fly rod?” I asked with delight.
“The fly rod!” Mason repeated, yelling at me as if he was frustrated it took me that long to figure it out.
“Well let’s get it!” I said happily picking him up and grabbing the fly rod. A small tear that once threatened to fall on his little cheek had vanished. I handed the fly rod to him and he took it showing every tooth he had at the time.
“Catch a fish!” he said in the cutest voice imaginable.
“Let’s do it, man!” I said, picking him up to my height.
“First we go back. Then we go forward, then back, then forward, then back…” Mason giggled as we casted the little two-weight fly rod. There was no more than three feet of line out with a six-foot leader, and at the end of that was a little green beetle. I was sure to keep the hook far away from us, and let it plop down in the water. The cast was dismal at best, landing just into the water near our feet.
“Okay man, we need to make a better cast if we….”
“Oh my gosh, it’s a fish?!” I said, with shock. The fly couldn’t have been in more than four inches of water, but there it was at the end of our line.
“Fiiiish!” Mason said, holding the fly rod and clearly feeling the fight.
“Let’s bring it in man! It’s your fish!”
There wasn’t much line to reel in, but a few cranks of the loud little reel made the experience better for Mason… I had to help because Mason still had his toy truck in his hand…
“There it is!” I said, lifting the little fish out of the water for Mason to see.
“The fish!” He yelled.
I set him down and kneeled over to place the little fish in my hand, just under the water, to get the hook out.
“Touch it?” Mason asked, his little eye fixed on the trout.
“Yes, but you have to be very soft.” I said. Mason scooted towards the fish and extended his little finger to give an ever so gentle touch to the back of the fish. He pulled his hand back and looked up at me with the biggest smile.
“Okay, let’s let it go. See ya later trout!”
“Later trout…” Mason mimicked.
The little fish shot from my hand.
“Whoaaaa!” Mason yelled, “There-e goes”!
Just then the wind blew through the tight walls of the canyon where we stood, creating a cyclone of air and water that got us wet.
“Whoa man, I think it’s time to get out of here.”
On the walk back Mason kept bringing up his fish. It was hard to make out everything he was saying about it, but by the time I got him in his car seat I think his fish had doubled in size…
The ride home was a fast one for Mason, who slept the entire way. March 2019 will be the one-year anniversary of this trip. Mason is three now, and had upgraded to the more expensive Thomas Trains to hold. All winter he has asked me to take him fishing, and I tell him as soon as it’s warm I’ll take him. I have no doubt that our next trip will be just as fun, if not more so, and just as memorable. Here’s looking forward to it.