Being a parent has led me down paths which I would never have imagined. Owning dogs up until the birth of my son, Easton, I assumed raising a child will have its parallels with dog ownership. Cryptic? Maybe. But, I have found many truths in this comparison. Every father dreams of the day they get to watch their kin toss a tight loop to a creek or tailing redfish. Easton is still a long way from this reality, and I have realized now I am completely content with this.
It’s a Slow Process
Just weeks before Easton was born, I was looking for practice fly casting rods and Patagonia garb to outfit him in. Naively I assumed he would pop out of the womb with a Steve Rajeff double haul and a burning passion for fly fishing. All of the months spent just trying to get him to eat normal people food definitely shed some light on this grim reality. Now that Easton is gradually developing better motor skills every day, my impatient desires are starting to come to fruition. Circling back to the ‘dog to child’ analogy, you must first develop their interest in something long before you would expect them to physically try it.
My goals from early on were to educate Easton on the fish. We watch Will Benson’s fly fishing films before bedtime, with “High in the Lowlands” being his favorite. Before he was 2, Easton could identify redfish, snook, tarpon, and permit. He sits on his Uncle Avery’s and my laps as we tie flies. Every time we travel, we stop at the local fly shop and he knows he’s allowed to pick one fly from the rack and add it to his (larger than mine) fly box. Now 3, Easton can tell the difference between a Hell’s Bay and any other skiff. As a matter of fact, he’s probably taken more skiff rides than the average weekend angler.
At 3 years old, Easton has a great knowledge of the important aspects of being a fly angler. He knows to handle fish with care and the importance of catch and release (though he thinks it’s because they’re going back to their “Mommies”). He watches closely as all of the people he looks up to do these things. Easton may not be casting a fly rod successfully yet, but I have never met a better angler
How Easton has Changed Me
My fly fishing roots come from being Easton’s age and throwing a spinning rod tipped with a shrimp down in the Keys to catch pinfish. I have always looked for the next best hobby, but once I found fly fishing it has been the most constant thing in my life. All of the
challenges it provides on a daily basis keep my attention like nothing else. Even working in the industry, I have never lost interest. All of this aside, I have found the greatest aspect of fly fishing is sharing the sport with others, specifically Easton.
Days on the water with Easton are nothing glamorous. They generally consist of making sure he doesn’t touch the spent flies under the casting platform, making sure he doesn’t hit any of the switches, stopping him from jumping up and down on the deck scaring every fish within a mile or tending to him when he has to take a poop in the middle of a flat. But damn, it is all worth it to watch the unfiltered pure joy on Easton’s face when a fish is caught.
Be sure to not to miss our other articles on getting kids involved in fly fishing:
Gary Gillett is a Mosquito Lagoon fly fishing guide (book a trip here!) and podcast host from the Tailer Park, FL.