Articles With the Tag . . . boys

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 . . .

Hardbody

I was driving a small Nissan pickup, halfway down a steep and rocky logging road, somewhere in the Pennsylvania backcountry. The truck crept down a small boulder field of mixed slate and sandstone. And the frame held solid while the suspension complained against larger obstacles. . . . That perfect, hour-long slow climb down a tram road and into the Fields Run valley was the beginning of a wonderful, memorable adventure . . .

What Does He Need?

These places change, but they are more constant than shifting, more lasting than fading. The stream that I fished as a boy every April still holds the same trout, and I follow those familiar bends upstream around rocky mountains. Fallen trees have diverted the channels enough to move the main flow twenty yards east or west, but permanence is more powerful. Here, change is minimal. And that’s comforting . . .

. . . He feels it too. And so he’s drawn to the woods, to these places larger than his small life that often seems too big. I’ve been doing the same for forty-three years . . .

. . . But what else does he need?

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...

Hardbody

Hardbody

I was driving a small Nissan pickup, halfway down a steep and rocky logging road, somewhere in the Pennsylvania backcountry. The truck crept down a small boulder field of mixed slate and sandstone. And the frame held solid while the suspension complained against...

What Does He Need?

What Does He Need?

A new baseball bat? A fishing reel? A dog? How about his own room instead of sharing cramped quarters with his younger brother? Ask him what he wants, and he’ll jump for any of those things. (There will also be a strong emphasis on the puppy — accompanied by a long,...

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 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 . . .

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Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

All of our favorite rivers were high, but clearing. Joey is ten years old now, so he knows the drill. We fish, because trout like water. And it’s the water clarity that matters, not the flow so much. We find wadeable pieces of river in almost any conditions, as long as the river isn’t the thin, brown color of Yoo Hoo.

Last weekend, sandwiched between two big days of baseball games and long team practices, we short-planned some time on the water together.

It was a trip to remember . . .

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Grandfather

Grandfather

He didn’t fish. He hunted. Wandering over wooded mountains, and whispering through the wheat fields, I followed my grandfather into a broken forest. We climbed over long oaks, and we scaled fallen hemlock trunks to reach the other side of a small stream. My footsteps fell into his. He walked slowly — much slower than a boy’s patience could match. And when my eagerness overtook me, Grandfather turned to force my pause. He leaned in and granted me this wisdom: “Slowly, child. Life’s secrets are in these trees.”

He was gone before my sons were born.

And now, when I enter these forests, these forgotten tramps, miles away from industry and deep inside shaded canyons, the wet moss absorbs my footfalls and silences the mental rush of an average life. These muted and hushed moments are given for remembering . . .

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Explore | Learn | Return

Explore | Learn | Return

“Let’s go somewhere a little different today,” I said to him.

So at the bottom of the driveway I turned left instead of right. Then at the bridge a few minutes later, I headed upstream instead of down.

We followed a road that parallels a no-name creek for ten miles. Joey peered across the fallow fields, through leafless branches of standing maples, trying to get a glimpse of the water. All the while, I talked to him about having the heart of an explorer.

Then as I eased the truck off the blacktop, into a soft gravely mud, Joey sat attentively, leaning forward to see ahead. And where the gravel finally touched the grass, we rolled to a stop.

“What’s this?” he asked . . .

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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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