Monday, February 4, 2008

Part 2 - My First Fly Rod & My Velvet Fly Fishing Hat

“My First Fly Rod & My Velvet Fly Fishing Hat”

Casting in the front yard only lasted so long. The desire and nagging urge to fish the surrounding waters haunted me every summer morning. I was soooo close to getting my drivers license and my Grandmother would rub it in with her famous words “Ride a bike, it will get you there just not as fast….”.

My Mother and Father both worked and finding a ride to do anything was pretty much out of the question. I found myself riding the bus or hopping on the mountain bike to get anywhere important.

One morning I woke up early. I rushed to throw on “Fishing” clothes and threw my Fred Meyer rubber hip boots into a backpack. My so called fishing shirt was a short sleeve shirt that had 2 large pockets in the front. On the way out of my room I grabbed my brown Velvet fly fishing hat and I was off.

I had heard rumors of trout being seen in the river at “Suicide Rock” from the “Tubers” in our neighborhood. I lived on Logan Way just below Foothill Blvd making my bike trek to the river short. I peddled faster anxious to get to “Suicide”.

I ditched my bike under a small tree and began peeling on my lime green, rubber hip boots. My fly rod case was a white piece of PVC tubing duck taped to the frame of my bike. My Browning Stillwater rod was wrapped in cloth.

The excitement was overwhelming. I strung up the rod missing an eyelet and having to break off the fly I had bought and re-string my fly line through all the eyelets. “Just my luck!” I thought. I was so impatient.

There was a well paved trail alongside the river bank. The bushes were overgrown and jetted out over the water. I walked up to a large cement spillway and watched the water rush through until it gradually slowed down against the cement wall.

I opened my fly box and pulled out a small Royal Wulff. “No way, I am fly fishing. I can’t believe it!” I made my first cast and it caught behind me on a small bush. Before I realized my hang up I came forward and broke off my fly. “Dammit!” I walked back and spent the next 30 minutes looking for the fly I had just broken off and it was nowhere to be found.

Opening my fly box I began to choose another fly from the 6 or 7 that I had collected. I put on another Wulff and this time I managed to carefully put a cast right up near the cement wall. My fly drifted down the calm water, skittering back towards me and each time I would pick up the line and cast it back up towards the calm water. Out of nowhere came a strike. I lifted up on the rod and hooked a small Rainbow. I was so proud that I pulled out a plastic bag from my backpack and kept the trout to take home and show my mother.

I fished all day making casts, hooking flies in the trees. I left late afternoon once I had lost my last fly. I sat on the bank confused. I was so happy and excited yet frustrated that I did not have any flies left. I had spent all my allowance that week on purchasing flies and realized that it was going to be an expensive habit if I did not be more careful and watch my back cast.

I took my velvet hat off. The inside of the brim was lined with sweat. I held the hat in my hands and reflected upon the day and my first fish I had caught on the fly. My hat was lucky and it went everywhere with me. I could not help but stare down on the label of my fly rod and admire the thought of fishing more water with the new gift.

Over the next few years the Browning Stillwater accompanied me on all my fly fishing trips and my velvet hat became worn.

The other night while cleaning out my closet I found my velvet hat on the top shelf. As I pulled it down I reflected back to that summer day on the river bank of Suicide. I thought of the beautiful trout that I had caught, the rush and excitement flowed through me as I remembered that special moment. I carefully combed over my hat looking at the different battle scars it had received over all those years.

“Dad, can I see that hat! Cool! Where did you get it Dad?”, “Oh, my Mother bought it for me a long time ago son. It is now time that I pass it on to you!”

Sometimes when I close my eyes I can picture that first Rainbow Trout and how beautiful the day was on that summer afternoon and I am reminded why I love to fly fish!

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