Any way you slice it, I like fishing in the winter. Yes its cold, can be windy and icy, but man is it a beautiful time to be outside. I took my son to Deckers this weekend to get some quick fishing in before a night of Nut Cracker ballet with my daughter. Normally, quick and winter fishing don't go hand in hand, but I wanted to get out and try the Scott S4 Theo had been talking about.
We hit Deckers early in the morning; we didn't see a single car once we left Sedalia. When we parked along the river to put on our gear a bald Eagle flew off the river to a nearby tree. The sky was blue and the river was serene. Things are slower and quieter this time of year, especially after the cold snap we just had. I think of winter fishing the same way as car camping - if you are uncomfortable you didn't bring enough gear. My son and I layered up and headed down to the river. There were no footprints in the snow as we approached the river and we pushed a trout out from under the clear shore ice. We stood and just checked it all out - it was great, quiet. I was hanging with my son on a perfect Colorado winter morning looking for trout.
It had been a while since my son and I fly fished together. He grew up fishing - from worms to flies to most recently spawn for Michigan chrome (we did use flies, but we went to the dark side and threw the Steelies pork chops until they ate...). However, with sports schedules, work travel and whatever other lame excuse I can think of, we just haven't been on the water much together. As much as I love fly fishing - I didn't force my kids to learn to cast to a rhythm set by a metronome as shown in "The Movie". I just gave them access to the gear and told them they can come along anytime. When they were younger I fished from the bank with them in the backpack, as they grew legs they started casting short rods with 10' of old fly line. Or they just cast their Snoopy rods. The key was hanging with Dad, doughnuts on the way to the river and a killer shore lunch of sardines, crackers and cheese.
I think teaching any skill is easier to do when the pupil is not related to you. This applies to skiing, canoeing, driving and fly fishing to mention a few. Every time I have taken someone fishing, I have learned something. Maybe it was a better way to explain a technique or understanding how to demonstrate it clearer. This day with my son was no different - I learned a lot. He had asked for a refresher since he hadn't cast in a while. I set him up with a double nymph rig and began the tutorial. Even without false casting there is a lot going on - mending, stripping, line control etc.... My tutorial only lasted about 5 minutes, I could tell by his tone of voice he was done listening to me and ready to just fish. So I let him. I told him to work his way upstream to me and I headed out to try the new rod. As I watched him from upstream, I learned that he actually listened to everything I had said and was figuring it out on his own. I think I would have ruined his day if I had fished next to him - adjusting things here and there. He did great and he did it on his own.
Standing back and watching is hard for any parent to do, but it works. Sometimes my passion for fly fishing is so strong I want to make sure that my kids love it as much as I do, that they have the best day, catch tons of fish and enjoy the sport instantly. On this perfect winter day, we just fished, ate a great burrito at the Deckers coffee shop and headed home.
Normally in winter I fish slow and methodical, that day I bet I only made a few decent drifts. I wanted to try out that new S4 so bad I kept my flies in the air more than in the water. I spent the morning casting everything to see how it performed - streamers, double nymph rigs, long leaders, short leaders - you name it, I threw it. I spent more time casting and changing rigs than I did drifting a fly, but it was fun. I am no rod critic, but I love that S4 - it put the fly where I wanted it to go, handled the short soft casts fine, and the bigger stuff as well. Good times....
Driving out of Deckers, we ran into Jeremy and his dog Magnum walking down the road. I stopped the truck and exchanged war stories for a few minutes - no cars came whizzing by, just a nice quiet day on the river. Hard to believe on one of the busiest waters near Denver. The cold weeds 'em out so layer up and head out!