The Twenty Dollar Cast

by | Jun 3, 2020 | 18 comments

Joey let go of the golden brown trout and watched it tail-kick into the shadows. With a big grin, my son handed me the net before sliding to the right and finding the submerged limestone ledge just downstream of the rock again.

For an eleven year old kid, sometimes the water that’s both wadable and close enough to where trout are feeding is limited. This morning, with trout feeding in the deepest and darkest water near large midstream boulders, our options were even more limited than usual. So now that we’d found a good thing, I knew Joey wanted to keep it going.

“Hey Dad, what’ll you give me if I hook another trout out of here?” Joey asked, as he threw an upstream setup cast.

“I’ll give you the net,” I said, flatly.

My son turned to look at me. And I had one of those moments where I saw myself in him again — like looking in a mirror, thirty-some years ago. My boys carry a lot of my traits. I worked at night and was a daytime Dad for them until they went to kindergarten, so a lot of me is embedded in them. All the time we spent together made that deep transmission inevitable. It’s both good and bad, I suppose. And I still don’t know if I accidentally taught them to be impatient or if it’s just a kid thing.

But when Joey turned to me, still buzzing from the event of the last trout, he showed a pure enjoyment of the moment that I understood too. I felt it in him, because I felt it in myself. We’d driven the extra miles because he wanted to be here. We’d left the house at 5:30 am because I’d suggested an early morning, and he agreed. We’d parked in tall grass-gone-to-seed and cut through the woods because I’d promised him no one else would be here. Sure, the trout were fewer in number, and he knew that too. But all of it matched up with how we both love the rivers where trout live. And after a couple hours of trial and error, we’d finally dialed in a water type and a method that had the fish tuning in.

“Hey, Dad. How about this . . .  If I catch a fish on my next cast, you give me thirty dollars?” Joey deadpanned. The touch of innocence and hope that he added to it untied my natural resistance to handing out money.

I thought about the proposal for a moment.

As much as my boys enjoy fishing, there’s still plenty of other things that gain their attention. My younger son, Aiden, is enthralled with his neighborhood friendships, these days. And both boys play a lot of baseball, ride bikes and hold a host of other interests besides sharing Dad’s trout fishing obsession.

So I liked what Joey was thinking. And I was intrigued by the possibilities of this incentive. What pre-teen kid isn’t looking for an extra lump sum of cash to roll in with the allowance? Just imagine how far this motivation could carry out, I thought.

“How about I give you twenty dollars if you call your shot?” I asked him.

Joey looked back at me, with curiosity. Now he was intrigued.

“Tell you what,” I said, leaning forward in my wading boots. “On each fishing trip, I’ll give you one chance to earn twenty bucks. You can pick any cast throughout the day. Call it out, and if you catch a trout on that cast, you’ll be twenty dollars richer.”

Joey loved it.

“Do I have to net the trout?” He asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Oh this is nice,” he said. “I’m going to save it for a really good time. You know, sometimes you can just feel when you’re in a good spot and everything is going right, and . . .”

“I know,” I interrupted. “That’s one of my favorite things about fly fishing. Sometimes you can just tell when you’re going to catch a trout.”

Joey knew we had less than a half hour before we needed to walk out. So he didn’t save it long. And after having already caught three brown trout in the same deep slot, he waited until he reached what we both recognized as the prime lie before he cashed in.

“Okay, Dad,” Joey bellowed over the whitewater. “Here’s the twenty dollar cast . . .”

His casting loop unfolded and kicked the nymph over with precision. And when the fly tucked into the darkest side of the limestone chunk, Joey kept the rod tip up, holding all extra line off the water. It was a gorgeous drift. And the air thickened with anticipation.

We watched together in silence as Joey milked that drift until the very end. And I think we were both a little surprised when nothing interrupted the long, deep ride of over thirty feet.

“Not this time, buddy,” I told him.

Joey flicked his wrist and repeated the same cast to the dark side of the rock. And because the world is a wonderful place, a no-doubter clobbered the stonefly nymph.

“Oohhhhh!!” We both yelled in unison as Joey drove the hook home, and a mid-teens wild brown rolled and flashed in the dark currents below.

Joey had been one cast off.

All the way home, Joey talked about the next twenty dollar cast. It was a good drive with a lot of laughs and memories.

Just wait until his brother finds out about the twenty dollar cast . . .

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Full Days of Early Fall

Full Days of Early Fall

There is no feeling like the newness of fall and the unanswered questions of a full day ahead . . .

The far bank holds nothing but scattered deer trails and no clear path. Even the deer haven’t seemed to come to any collective agreement on the best course through the floodplain. This river washes out and floods easily, so every big rain knocks down a few overgrown trees that are forced to give up their dominance in the soft ground. Dense brush then takes root around the fallen timber, and saplings compete to fill in the sunny gap left by an old fallen tree. Years later, one of the growing saplings wins and the others die off. The strongest tree grows large enough to cast the shade that eventually becomes its own demise. The dark, ground turns soggy again, and another adult falls quietly into the muddy riverbank . . .

Fishing With Kids — Connections

Fishing With Kids — Connections

All my life, I’ve walked the woods and water and thought of trout. That’s what tied me to these wild rivers and to nature itself.

But I’ve learned something about Aiden this summer . . .

What draws him to nature and connects him is the identification of living things. He’s an explorer, digging with his small, dirty hands to catch a frog or build a rock dam. And he has the best pair of eyes I’ve ever been around. If you’re looking for something, tell Aiden. He’ll probably find it.

His attention to all of the living things that surround us out there is contagious. And that is the base of his connection to the woods and the water . . .

Play it as it lies

Play it as it lies

The shifts and evolutions that a river succumbs to is captivating to watch.

It’s a slow motion reel in your mind, spanning twenty years of fishing around the same small island. Until one day, after the flood waters recede, you walk down the trail to find the whole island gone.

I want an experience as close to what nature intended as possible on this twenty-first century planet. And messing with a river’s placement of things just isn’t for me.

It’s the river’s decision.

Keep it wild . . .

Surf and Salt —  LBI, Summer 2019

Surf and Salt — LBI, Summer 2019

Follow-ups are tough. That’s what I told the boys as we prepared for this year’s family beach vacation. The sequel to last summer, I assured them, would host its own wonders. Wishing too hard for a perfect repeat might get in the way of enjoying the new moments — the unexpected things. That’s a good lesson for young boys. It’s a good lesson for anyone.

This year, when we raised the garage door of our new beach home for the week, the boys flew up four flights of stairs. And it was immediately clear that this house, with a huge kitchen and bedrooms to spare, with its endless decks and terraces, would be the feature of the week.

Having that kind of space and such comforts changes things. I think we all sunk in and relaxed in a way that we hadn’t for a long time. No Little League games, no school, no work or business calls. We took a vacation the way it’s supposed to be. And I saw each of us unwind. We settled in easily. We rested.

The boys found their own avenues of enjoyment. They discovered routines that suited each of them. We walked a lot, road bikes, explored the island, spent loads of time on the beach . . . and we fished . . .

Missing the Mornings

Missing the Mornings

Dawn to daylight. From the dim, sparkling haze of first light, to the breaking solar rays across tree tops. These are the magic hours.

A clean slate. A fresh-faced river. New light and raw beginnings for forgetful fish. Recently out of the darkness, the trout’s guard is down. He trusts more. He worries less.

The new day is a blank canvas — an unwritten chapter of events and plans. Not your plans, but the river’s plans. Because such decisions are not for any of us to choose.

Walk deep into the backcountry one day, cut through the darkness before pre-dawn, and experience this. Arrive before first light to a place untouched for some time. Feel the newness, the virginity of first light among the surrounding hills . . .

The first time out, a fly needs a good showing

The first time out, a fly needs a good showing

“What’s this doing in here?”

I plucked the oddball fly from its slot on the backside of a swinging leaf in my nymph box, from a place reserved for trial runs and some rarely used once-or-twice-a-year kind of stuff.

Holding the flashback fly between my thumb and first two fingers, I shook my head.

“No, you didn’t quite make it into the lineup, did you bud?”

You should know, the solitude of my favorite trout river provides me the freedom to talk to myself. And it’s become a habit — not often enough to consider me too strange, I wouldn’t think, and certainly not loud enough for streamside starlings to hear me over the breaking currents. I only comment aloud on the remarkable things, and I do so somewhere above a whisper.

But I like to speak the questions. Because these thoughts seem to command more answers when they resonate aloud.

That last question needed no reply. It was obvious. And I’ve known it for a while now. The first time out, a new fly has to make a good showing. . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

18 Comments

  1. Awesome story, love it.

    Reply
  2. You would be wise to always keep two Jacksons in your wallet.

    Reply
  3. That’s a precious story well-told. Loved it.

    Reply
  4. I want the same chance to “call my shot” for 20 bucks next time we are out, Dom.

    (Joey, a nice brown is more valuable than $20 any day!)

    Reply
  5. Awesome story, and that video is priceless!

    Reply
  6. Made my day. Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Dom,
    What a great idea. Now that my daughters are older, they aren’t getting up early for fishing. Evenings are fine after a good dinner. I used to be able to offer a breakfast sandwich and orange juice for an early trip. Won’t work any longer.

    I look forward to hearing the stories how the boys earn the money, then another generation away give the same bills to their kids.

    Stay safe and healthy,
    Rick

    Reply
  8. Having spent most of my career in a classroom/science lab with 11-13 year olds, I have to say, “Good father-work dad!”.
    And that was a nice fish.

    Reply
  9. Great story. I can hear that Central PA accent. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Great story and loved the video too. Fishing with my young kids is certainly time cherished. After lighting the fire in them it is awesome to see how them fan it on. My older boys now are full on into Covid induces pond bass fishing. Bassbitten for now, for sure. Wishing we had better trout waters, without the travel or crowds.

    Reply
  11. Good job, Joey. What a beautiful trout. Memories for a dad and a son to last a lifetime.

    Reply
  12. Awesome story & awesome video at the end…. Made me smile in these crazy times!

    Reply
  13. Nice….fly fishing AND family. ……two pretty awesome things.

    Reply
  14. Well done to both of you!!! Great fish!!!

    Reply
  15. Dom-Love, Love, Love that story. Great video! My son is the same age and this last Christmas he gave me “Fishing Coupons” that I could use with him. The deal is I can redeem any time with “no complaints”. Unfortunately with everything that has gone on I haven’t been able to redeem any but I’m pulling those out here soon! I like the $20 cast idea to make it fun. He is all about making a little money to feed his video game habit…fish hard my friend!

    Reply
  16. Fan-freakin-tastic. Killer story

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest