I don’t fish nearly as much as I did five years ago.
On Father’s Day, 2011, my wife gave me a card revealing that she was pregnant with our first child. Obviously, what followed has changed my life significantly. That little boy, the other one that followed, and the baby (gender unknown to us at the moment) on the way have altered both the day-to-day and the big picture.
More diapers, more being around for 7:00pm bedtimes, and less fly fishing.
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. If it came down to it, fishing would be the thing I’d change. It has been the thing I’ve changed. I’ve never looked at one of my boys and remorsefully thought, “this is why I’m not on the river right now.”
While there are quick fly fishing outings and intermittent weekend trips, I haven’t been out as much as I did before fatherhood. And as cliché as it sounds, the times when I’m out on my own I can’t help but think about what it will be like when they are old enough to join me. Only a few years, months maybe, until the oldest can wade in gentler waters and hop on the boulders of mountain streams. And, as any parent knows, the next child in line will be propelled by the desire to keep up with his older brother.
We do fish now. I take them to the little creek in the backyard to catch tiny fallfish and bluegill that hardly put a bend in the four-weight. We’ve gone to local ponds and have gotten into larger panfish, bass, and pickerel. And although we are technically fly fishing, and I’m definitely enjoying the time with my boys on the water, I’m excited about when we can really go fly fishing.
What does that look like? For me it is an early morning start, gas station breakfast, and calm music on the drive to the water. Then, spending the better part of the day chasing trout. We’re working our way towards that, but we aren’t there yet. I have to be okay with that, lest I embitter them against me or the sport.
My boys love being outside and are fascinated by fishing, so I know that will all come. Today, I need to enjoy those short walks to the creek in the backyard. Even though it is just a stage, I can treasure little hands fumbling with spincasting reels. I should appreciate the myriad of questions, knowing full well that a day is coming when they will think that they have all the answers. About fly fishing and everything else.
I’ll never fish again in the same way I did before I found out I was going to be a dad. I can’t. I’ve changed too much. And It has all been for the better. Changes in the way that I prioritize, think about, and actually go fishing.
Mostly, because everything is slowly changing from I am going fly fishing to we are going fly fishing.