I think a lot of us have gone through a process in our fishing.

I started off dipping worms for bluegill. A little later and I was slinging eggs and hardware for steelhead. I didn’t discover fly fishing and a love for trout until I was 21 and for a long time that’s all I did, maybe with a little superiority in my beliefs.

I had a kid. I wanted that kid to see/be around fish and where I was that meant bait for sharks. I started doing that and grew a love of hers for sharks.

Then, saltwater fishing, I rediscovered the joy of catching fish on a spinning rod… especially barracuda and jacks.

Kid #2 and a new bit of home water emerges, 4 houses away, and I find out we can catch (little) sharks there. He is overjoyed. Said it was the best day ever.

I’ll fish bait. I’ll fish flies. I’ll fish gear.

I still enjoy catching a fish on a fly rod best, but I’m much more pragmatic now.

The joy in his eyes… priceless.

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  1. I have fished bait and lures throughout the years. I used to sit on the bank and fish bait with my grandfather who first took me fishing when I was 5 years old. He was my fishing mentor and I loved fishing with him. Later in the Boy Scouts, when I was 11 years old, I did a 50 mile hike up the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washing State, long before the dam was removed. Mr. Winshimer taught me to fly fish on that trip and I have been fly fishing and tying flies ever since. I love fly fishing, but you could talk me into a spin/bait trip any time.

  2. I was trying for may fishing merit badge and decided I’d use the old Japanese bamboo rod my dad brought home from WW2. The requirement for the badgewas to catch a fish using an artificial lure. I was 11. I had no idea of how to rig or use an old Japanese fly rod or any fly rod, though I was good with my spinning rod. My best friend and I, Paul Dean Garavaglia (we all had two names).Southern Illinois was home) , would ride our bikes about four miles to fish often at Mine B pond. It was full of bluegills and little bass. They ate worms and roaches and catalpas eagerly and we caught tons and brought lots home.

    When I tries to rig the fly rod I was on my own. Not many used a fly rod in southern Illinois (actually I knew only one old guy who did. He always smoked a pipe while fishing. I do too).

    So I tried to rig and had great trouble getting the fly on. The hook was too small. The fly was a black gnat, black with a red tail. I somehow tied it myself from a $6 kit bought from a catalog that had instructions on how to tie a fly. It took a while.

    The reason I had such trouble rigging was I didn’t know there was something called a “leader” . I tried to tie the fly on directly to the fly line. That is very difficult to do.

    It took a while. Finally, I took my scout knife and somehow shaved the fly line and forced it into the hook. It took a while. Finally rigged, I could cast about six feet from the tip. I tried and tried. Many bike rides later the miracle happened. I caught one of the smallest bluegills known to mankind. I wrapped it in my kercheif and rode as fast as I could to the Scoutmaster who was at work. I showed him the fish and the fly. I got my merit badge It helped after a long process to earn the required the 21 badges needed to become an Eagle Scout, which I am very proud about.

    It also set me on my way to fly fishing. I dreamed of someday catching a trout. I read every Field & Stream, Sports Afield, and Outdoor Life I could get my hands on. I saved and got subscriptions to all three. I read and read, and learned to cast a little with the glass Shakespeare rod I finally bought. Of course there were no trout in southern Illinois. But our troop was lucky enough to sell enough lightbulbs. cupcakes (thanks Mom) to go on a trip to Philmont Scout Ranch, in the mountains of New Mexico. I was 14. It was paradise. We hiked into the mountains and camped. The first night out, after dinner, I went to a crystal clear mountain stream. I caught a trout. Maybe four or five inches long. (There were plenty of them) I can still visualize every moment of it. I never looked back. After decades of catching all sorts of fish on the fly in all sorts of places , as one would expect the most memorable fish I ever caught was that five inch beautiful rainbow trout.

  3. Please excuse the notable and ample typos in the little above. I was in a passion and typed way too fast. I didn’t let the backcast do its job, and moved forward way too fast. Sister Mary Dominic of St Mary’s Grade School would have had my knuckles back then. Now, I only suffer the pain of some embarrassment. I hope she’s not watching. Soft landings and tight lines.

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