Friday, April 9th, 2010

Winter 2009/10. Gabe wanders up to my fly tying desk, crawls into my lap, and asks “what are you doing?”  Even though he is only 3 years old, he knows very well what I am up to. “You are making a fishy fly”, he proclaims. Yes I am – a Hendrickson to be precise. Gabe stares intently through the magnifying lense as I complette the wings. “Can I cut the string ?”

“Yes, you can cut the string.” This is not Gabe’s first exposure to flies or fishing. This past summer he stood on a pier at Eagle Springs Lake patiently waiting while I tossed a “fishy fly” to the bass sulking among the lilly pads. He netted over 30 fish in one afternoon. He was just a couple of months shy of 3 years old then.  Those Large Mouth Bass were never so loved!

I found this poem by Olav Smedal about a day in field with father and son. It sums up the sentiment quite well:

Give Him a Day

What shall you give to one small boy?
A glamorous game, a tinseled toy?
A Boy Scout knife, a puzzle pack?
A train that runs on some cruising track?
A picture book, a real live pet?
No, there’s plenty of time for such things yet
Give him a day for his very own.
Just one small boy and his Dad alone.
A walk in the wood, a romp in the park;
A fishing trip from dawn to dark.
Give him the gift that only you can.
The companionship of his “old man.”
Games are outgrown and toys decay,
But he’ll never forget
If you give him a day!

And now I’m giving him a day – on the Onion River where I endeavor to get Gabe his first trout. You won’t see many three year olds out on a trout river this year; however this little guy worked diligently with me for over two hours. We didn’t get him his first trout, but it didn’t matter: the bugs were enough! Gabriel is fascinated with the idea that there are bugs living underwater. We turn over a rock and three Cress Bugs scoot for cover. “A roly poly!” he squeals.

“No, that’s a Cress Bug,” I say.

He repeats” “Cress Bug. Can I have one in my hand?”   I oblige him of course. What is a three year old without a bug in his hand!

At one point, he throws his arms around me, “I love you deeda!”

“Deeda” – that’s me. When Gabe was very little, he got the syllables in “Daddy” mixed up and  we decided it was so cute, that we let it stick. And now I’m deeda.

We continue to pick up select rocks and by the time we leave he can identify “cress bugs”, “mayfly nymphs” and “caddis cases”.   By July, he will be ready for SW Wisconsin where the fish will not be the only one hooked!