Fly fishers the world over celebrate the arrival of spring. Even those who grind through the winter months look forward to the warmer weather, increase in insect activity, and expanded opportunities to catch fish.
If you haven’t noticed, everyone else also wants to get outside with the onset of spring. Even non-fly fishers. Even the non-outdoorsy. Even your family.
Sometimes, those three categories are one and the same. The wife and kids want to take advantage of the pleasant weather by taking a nature walk and get outside. This is a perfectly reasonable request. Even bears, who get to sleep all winter, choose to spend their cooped-up time separated from loved ones.
This first weekend in spring was beautiful in the Mid-Atlantic region. Sunny, 70s, and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect weather for fly fishing. Bugs would be hatching: stoneflies, some early caddis, and bunches of midges would all be buzzing around the sun-warmed water. The fish have already been active this season, so they would be completely receptive to a well-presented offering.
Or, I could take a nature walk.
Let me be clear: I have it good. My wife and boys love being outside. My leash for things like fly fishing is longer than I deserve. I’m blessed to the point where I certainly can’t complain about a nature walk; even in lieu of a great day for fishing.
So, we took a nature walk.
It was a hike, really. We went up to a national park that provided easy access to some trails that led to rocks for scrambling and overlooks for “oohing / aahing.” Some might say that these things are essential for taking kids hiking. They would be wrong. All you need is open space and something dangerous, like sharp sticks or pricker bushes. If you have those things, they’ll have a blast.
Rewinding to earlier in the week, I was the one tasked in locating the aforementioned hiking spot. I’m pretty familiar with the various parks and forests in a hundred-mile vicinity. But I’m intimately-acquainted with those parks and forests that also have trout streams flowing through them.
Totally unselfishly (maybe…) I chose a park that had a (spectacular, favorite, loved) trout stream flowing through it. Totally unselfishly, I asked to pack a fly rod. Just in case. You never know: we might have needed a trout for survival purposes.
The hike was great. The boys were wild, but had a lot of fun. There was still snow in shadowy spots, so we got to have some 75-degree day snowball fights. No one got hurt, no one lost their temper, and there were only a few tears shed. The fly rod stayed in the case. That was okay. I loved it, and loved being with my family.
There was something else that I loved.
Driving back down the mountain, alongside the stream, my oldest says “Dad, we should come back to just go fishing.” Yes. That, son, is what I’m talking about. A totally unprovoked and innocent request to go fly fishing.
Times like these are good. The whole family gets to be outside, which is excellent on its own merit. Additionally, fly fishing takes place outside. Being in and enjoying the environment of where angling occurs is a natural precursor for a child to get started fishing.
If fly fishing is a culture, then making being outdoors part of the culture of your family is an important thing to do. In a day and age of screens and wires, nature walks are conducive to… well, being healthy together.
We’ll be hiking again in the next few weeks, because that is what we do. I’ll probably get a chance to go fly fishing sometime in the next few weeks, too. What I’m really excited about is going fishing at that stream with my son sometime soon.
After all, it was his idea.
Want to know some other ways that you can introduce and encourage your child or a child in your life to get involved in fly fishing? Check out these articles: