I have the pleasure of having fathered 2 boys. Oh dear, rewind, let me start again….I have the pleasure of being a father to 2 wonderful young boys, Sam (10) & Tom (7). Sam was born in Johannesburg and was the ultimate proverbial “last straw” that galvanized our decision to move to Hilton in 2006. I must mention that it goes without saying that they are the kind of little guys who would rather spend their days outside, weather notwithstanding in Hilton, than playing inside. They suffer from the common local malady know to us as “Hilton Feet”; symptoms are easy to detect – dark black feet 99% of the time. This is good. TV is for sport and watching the Cars & Cars 2 movies 100 plus times over on those days that they just CAN’T go outside. Needless to say, they have both been along on many fishing “expeditions” ranging from a few hours on the local forest dam to a long weekend away.
When I cast (sic) my mind back to the first outings with Sam and then later on, Tom, I remember a large amount of frustration for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is the regular pestering of them, asking, “When’s mah turn Daaaaad?” So I would eventually capitulate and cast a spare line out for them and firmly instruct them to retrieve dead slow, which in 4 year old speak equated to a double overhand retrieve with the rod bouncing around frantically on the bank for 10 seconds. This would usually be followed by a proud pronouncement of “I’m finished Daaaad”! It all resulted in not much time for me to focus on my line of course. It took a few trips for me to work out that eventually they’d get bored which lead them to stripping down to their underpants and jumping in the water! In the blink of an eye, my fly-fishing turned into casting practice while they swam and made mud pies and balls which were more often than not launched as far in to the water as their little arms would allow! Who’d want play station when you have this kind of playground?
I recall another particularly costly day trip a few years back where both the boys and my wife, Anna, were with me. As I was preparing my line, I lost a fly (black beetle with a green Mohican) in the grass with about 5 inches of tippet attached to it. After a considerable time searching for this fly without success, I gave up looking and went on to the water to fish. A couple of hours later, I hit the motherlode of evening rises on the water and was in my element catching rainbows on a dry. As I was reaching fever pitch, I heard this call from Sam which I thought was along the lines of “Daaaad, it’s time to go home”. I replied, quite understandably, that there was no way that I was leaving until I had thrashed the water clean. My initial thought was incorrect….the actual call from Sam was a crisis call…He was shouting to me that he had a fly caught in his calf muscle. Daaaad’s retort was along the lines of “What the hell are you doing buggering around with my flies anyway?” Then I looked at the fly embedded in his little leg and, guess what, it sported a green Mohican! I quickly apologised and thanked Sam for finding my fly! So, with the little guy being in a fair bit of pain, I extracted 2 items. The 1st being my trusty Leatherman and the 2nd my hipflask containing some type of appropriate anaesthetic. I quickly poured the amber fluid on the affected area (Yells from Sam) then proceeded to try and extract the fly with my surgical grade pliers. Well, if there was a roof, Sam would have hit it. The fly was barbed…damn, I am normally so careful to crimp the barbs on my fly. There was no way that I was going to get the fly out without knocking Sam out with a rock (No, it didn’t cross my mind at the time). So, the Subaru turned into an ambulance, it was white, and we high-tailed to Howick Hospital only to be told there was a 2 hour wait in casualty. Plan B – Dropped Anna and Tom off at home and headed to Mediclinic with Sam. The offending object was extracted from his leg, thank goodness. I would normally finish here but I need to tell you more. I went to settle the bill and I almost required admission for shock. The amount came to the equivalent of the cost of a nice middle of the range fly rod.
Notes to self:
- Find that damned lost fly in the grass even if it takes all day!
- Crimp those barbs.
- Replace that amber liquid in my hip flask with Dormicum or Morphine!
- Don’t take someone to hospital casualty on Easter Sunday at 9pm!
- No matter the cost – it was still a great day out with the family…Priceless!
I could go on relating numerous other “challenging” experiences with my boys on the water but we’ve moved on from there and so should this piece!
Sam has now reached the stage where he has begun casting really nicely and Tom is getting there but “thrashing the water” would be a polite way to put it! We’ve all reached the stage where it’s a pleasure to be out on a water together. Sam has joined the Natal Fly Fishers Club (NFFC) and it won’t be long until Tom does too. The next hurdle is to get Sam (and Tom) a Trout. Bass have been caught and hung, drawn & quartered on a number of occasions but no Trout yet. It’s just a matter of time though.
What I am ultimately grateful for is the fact that these guys love the outdoors so much, especially fishing (when they’re not fighting on the backyard cricket pitch, that is). All I can do as a “Daaad” is feed this passion of theirs and place opportunities and experiences in their path. Yes, it does require a little sacrifice from a time and personal fishing quality perspective. But that doesn’t matter to me, I love spending time with them on the water. My initial investment now will pay huge dividends later on in their lives in many different ways. My secret hope is that they’ll take me fishing when I’m in my wheel chair one day, you see!
I’d like you to think about young kids you could possibly expose this wonderful pastime of ours to. They are the future of Fly fishing, in a way it’s kind of our duty to introduce youngsters to the game. And remember the Facebook quote – “The World Needs more Tackle Boxes and less X-Boxes”. Enough said. Tight lines.