Articles With the Tag . . . Aiden

Aiden’s First Brown Trout

Hundreds of times Aiden has snagged the bottom, pulled the rod back, and either asked me if that was a fish or has told me flatly, “I think that was a fish.”  This time, he finally experienced the certainty that a couple of good head shakes from a trout will give you . . .

The Twenty Dollar Cast

“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 . . .

Eat a Trout Once in a While

I stood next to him on the bank, and I watched my uncle kneel in the cold riffle. Water nearly crested the tops of his hip waders while he adjusted and settled next to the flat sandstone rock that lay between us. He pulled out the Case pocket knife again, as he’d done every other time that I’d watched this fascinating process as a young boy.

“Hand me the biggest one,” my uncle said, with his arm outstretched and his palm up.

So I looked deep into my thick canvas creel for the first trout I’d caught that morning. Five trout lay in the damp creel. I’d rapped each of them on the skull after beaching them on the bank, right between the eyes, just as I’d been taught — putting a clean end to a trout’s life. I handed the rainbow trout to my uncle and smiled with enthusiasm . . .

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 . . .

The Twenty Dollar Cast

The Twenty Dollar Cast

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...

Eat a Trout Once in a While

Eat a Trout Once in a While

I stood next to him on the bank, and I watched my uncle kneel in the cold riffle. Water nearly crested the tops of his hip waders while he adjusted and settled next to the flat sandstone rock that lay between us. He pulled out the Case pocket knife again, as he’d done...

Fishing With Kids — Connections

Fishing With Kids — Connections

This summer, I’ve taken my boys fishing often enough that the details of one trip are starting to blend in with the next. And that’s a good thing. We camped near my favorite river last night, and this morning I took them on a meandering hike that mostly parallels the...

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...

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

Fishing With Kids — If you fall, get up

“How long have they been fishing with you?” he hollered. The old man leaned over the wooden railing of the walking bridge and gestured toward my sons who were wading upstream. As Joey fished some thin pocket water in the shade, Aiden searched the shallows for anything unusual to add to his daily rock collection. The sun-drenched day was warm enough for wet wading, and the boys had been out with me for about an hour.

I waded downstream and stopped under the walking bridge to visit with the stranger. We watched my sons and chatted for a while. He told me stories about his childhood in Connecticut, of rivers and rope swings and cheap fishing gear. When Aiden turned downstream to hold up a new prize, and when Joey yelled down that he just missed one, the stranger and I waved back and replied with a big thumbs up.

“So, really . . . how many years have they been fishing?” He asked again.

“Well,” I said. Aiden is six and Joey is eight. I think they both started casting fly rods around five, but they cast spinning rods a little earlier.”

I explained that, from the beginning, Going fishing with these kids was less about catching trout and more about taking an adventure together. What can we see today? What will we find? Those are the questions to focus on more, rather than, How many will we catch? . . .

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Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Fishing With Kids — “Born to fish big”

Parenting is mostly guessing and then hoping you were right. My design all along has been to get the boys beside a river as often as possible.

Will they be fly fishermen at fifty? Will they take on fishing as a way of life? Will they need it as something to help them through difficult times? I don’t know. But I’m giving them that chance.

Joey waded through a knee-deep riffle, toward a bank side boulder that he’d never reached before. We’d fished for two hours with the fish count as zero as the skies unloaded a hard rain into the river. I waited underneath the half-shelter of a large sycamore and watched my son from twenty feet away . . .

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A Fish Out of Fresh Water

A Fish Out of Fresh Water

I’d been to LBI at least a dozen times but never cast a line into the salt. Sure, I found the prospect of hauling fish from the surf intriguing, but I suppose I’d always stopped at the reality checkpoint — I live five hours from the ocean, so how often can I really fish water with tides? And while most people enjoy dabbling in things once in awhile, that approach is really not my bag. A short run with something leaves too many questions wandering around and bumping against each other in my brain. And without returning for a follow up experience, the questions remain frustratingly unanswered. I’m a researcher at heart, and I want those answers.

But my two boys are old enough now to be researchers themselves. And once they knew we were traveling to LBI, New Jersey for vacation, they looked into where to fish, what to fish and how to catch the biggest fish in the sea.

We were casting bobbers into a pond with spinning tackle when Aiden first brought it up back in June.

“Hey Dad, when we’re at the beach, we have to buy squid and bunker. We need bigger hooks too, because these ones are too small.”

I perked up and turned toward the small raspy voice of my seven year old son.

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The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

I’ll always have a soft spot for kids this age. These young boys and girls are six to eight years old and learning to be hitters, with their own coaches serving up meatballs across home plate.

They are sophisticated goofballs with only minor control over their emotions, with conditional attention spans that are sometimes ripped away by the slightest and silliest things imaginable. They’re kids.

And for many of these little people, baseball is a first chance to learn the life lessons that build strong adults: that true success is earned through hard work, that passion exceeds wishful thinking, and that teamwork is a constant compromise.

At the Little League age, heart is everything. And I’ve seen teams with half the talent take down bigger teams with twice the power through sheer will and desire — they just wanted it bad enough. Determination is contagious. Belief is addictive. And when a team buys into one another, they don’t easily let go of that belief.

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I want to, but I don’t want to

I want to, but I don’t want to

My favorite eight-year-old looked at me exasperated, with his signature furrowed brow and troubled eyes. He animated the short speech with both hands and turned up the volume on his words. “Well Dad, I want to, but I don’t want to.”  Ahhh yes. That’s my son, because I’ve felt like that my whole life.

His tortured answer was a reply to my easy question: “Should we fish today?” But life decisions are hard for a boy so full of ideas and new plans for each day. I know it. I feel it. I remember it.

At that age, I hadn’t yet learned about the bargains we make with time — that we may do this thing now and the other thing later, accepting that upon fruition the second thing may be only half as grand as we’d hoped, if only because it wasn’t done first. These decisions are desperate when you’re eight years old.

He’s stuck right in the middle of two eras — old enough that the adults aren’t regulating every facet of his life, and yet not quite adept at wielding the freedom of choice. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I see it. I get it. I remember it . . .

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Peace In the Valley

Peace In the Valley

Dad and I didn't set up camp in our usual spot. For as long as I can remember, we’ve chosen primitive, state forest lands rather than campgrounds. It’s quieter, and there’s more of a sense that you’re truly getting away from everything for a while. But this year the...

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