Ouality Time
Fishing With Dad
by Steven Maslar
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Fishing Journal
March 2014 Issue
Skilak Lake Alaska
James Reid's Shop
half loaded backpacks he was trying to hoist into the tree nearly hoisted him into the tree.

This episode occurred as my dad, brother-in-law, uncle, and I were setting up camp halfway through a 14+ mile trek through the
backcountry along Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Times were tough in those days – the park had not
placed bear-proof backpack storage cable systems at each backcountry campsite yet. You had to lift your backpacks into the
tree however you could.

This was just one of the countless, and often crazy, fishing trips
I've been on with my Dad through the years. As I was coming of
age as a teenager, he was in the twilight years of his career with
IBM. This meant he had tons of vacation time, and so did I. And
spend the time wisely we did. Typically, we would fish one
Saturday a month. In addition to the monthly trips, we would
also take either a camping trip or a backpacking trip during
spring break, one to start the summer season and one at the
end the summer, as well as one at the fall break from school.
Fortunately, by that time in her life, Mom was thrilled to have us
out of the house so she was OK with it all. I didn't think about it
at the time, but I was actually learning life's lessons as we talked
en route to the stream or while fishing, rather than spending my
time getting into trouble like many teenagers.

One of the things we learned was that you didn't have to know what you were doing to get started fishing. I fell in love with fishing
when he took me on our first rain-laden, tent collapsing, camping/fishing trip at age 12. The next year, I started fly fishing for trout
with 5'-6” Berkely Lightning Rod bass rod, el cheapo fly line and $20 fly reel from Big Box Store. We didn't have a clue where to
even start, but we learned quickly as we tried different destinations. We found that small streams are great to get started on – the
fish have far fewer places to hide, and your casts don't have to be that long.

And, we caught fish – just a few to begin with, and then over the years eventually a bad day was single digits. I must say,
however, that I much prefer my nice fly rod and lightweight reel to the Lightning Rod and boat anchor I started with, and
(shameless plug here) Perfect Fly Brand flies are a huge advancement over the feathers I tied on a hook as I was learning to tie
flies.

We found that there are some advantages to not knowing what you are doing when you get started. For example, I didn't know
what a roll cast was, so I carefully grabbed the bend of the fly hook between by thumb and index finger, stretched the rod and a
short length of line like a bow and arrow, and shot the fly into otherwise impossible to reach areas. Not very elegant, but very
effective in reaching tight areas on small streams.
Copyright 2014 Steven Maslar
H
elp!" Dad cried. “Wrap it around the tree.” My brother-in-law suggested. “Help!” Dad replied, this time a little more
anguished. “Wrap it around the tree!” My brother-in-law commanded. “I will most definitely wrap it around the tree, but
first I need help!” cried my Dad, clinging to the end of the rope, his feet now barely touching the ground as the four
Bow and Arrow Casting in Tight Spaces
Then, my dad, who was more likely to use a spinning rod, decided to get all historically accurate on me and started fly fishing
with a 13 foot cane pole like Horace Kephart himself had done in times past. He would sneak (well, his version of sneaking
anyway, which could also be called rolling) up to a pool and dangle the fly just above the water, sometimes in a figure 8 or
touching it for an instant to the surface of the water. The trout beneath would eventually work up his courage and jump out of
the water, trying to catch the fly. Later, I found out just how lifelike that technique was as I observed a trout trying to catch a
real mayfly that was flying upstream, occasionally dropping to the water.

One of the things I learned from him was to “Play
your lay.” In other words, a bad cast can actually
be a good cast if you don't give up on it. For
example, more than once I've seen a trout hit his
spinner as the lure was leaving the water during
the retrieve over a low hanging branch he had
inadvertently cast over. And there were many
times he caught a fish in a “tidal pool” or other
out of the way location due to an errant cast.
Similarly, I've caught trout even when my dry fly
was being sucked away at mach speed by drag
on the fly line. Apparently, the trout haven't read
all the books and articles to know how they're
supposed to act, so don't feel like you have to
always fish like you're making a fishing DVD.

I also learned from him to fish for the insane trout.
They're easier to catch than the rational ones. For
example, immediately after some teenage
swimmers and their dog had left a small pool at the
base of the upper falls on Big Sandy Creek, he
caught several wild, presumably suicidal rainbows
in the pool the kids had just been thrashing around
in. I didn't know that was possible. No sane trout would be out after all that commotion, but who's fishing for sane trout?

Dad is a great example of how old dogs can learn new tricks and make new tracks. He didn't start trout fishing until he was in
his late 40's. He was even backpacking with me into his 60's, as we covered many miles of NC and Tennessee trout streams.
Nearly thirty years after we started trout fishing, he's now sharing what we've learned about fishing on our website, which
means he's also learned to build a website. Along the way, we've picked up a fly tying materials business that he manages. Not
bad for someone in his mid 70's.

Now, I'm a dad. One of the things I wanted to do was to get my kids into fishing at a young age – something I consider a bit of
an investment. You see, when I went fishing by myself, I was just a deadbeat husband. However, now that I take the kids with
me, relieving my wife of a lot of work, I'm a great dad, and I still get to do what I wanted. I'm always careful to get them a treat
and give them some time to play around on the stream (far away from other fishermen), just to make sure they want to come
back. It was quite a thrill watching my daughter her first trout on a fly all by herself (unfortunately, though, she didn't know the
joy of using the bass rod), or hooking a wild brown trout on a 70 degree January day on the Upper Davidson while my son was
riding on my shoulders. (I put him safely down and let him reel it in.)

Since there are about 35 years between me and both my dad and my son, we've been very fortunate for all three of us to be
able to go trout fishing together. We're quite a sight working our way up the stream, as I carry our gear up to the next pool,
come back and carry my 4 year old son up, and then come back and help my dad stumble up to the next spot. The time is
fleeting, so I try to enjoy every minute with them (and prevent injuries.)

Now, I'm a dad. One of the things I wanted to do was to get my kids into fishing at a young age – something I consider a bit of
an investment. You see, when I went fishing by myself, I was just a deadbeat husband. However, now that I take the kids with
me, relieving my wife of a lot of work, I'm a great dad, and I still get to do what I wanted. I'm always careful to get them a treat
and give them some time to play around on the stream (far away from other fishermen), just to make sure they want to come
back. It was quite a thrill watching my daughter her first trout on a fly all by herself (unfortunately, though, she didn't know the
joy of using the bass rod), or hooking a wild brown trout on a 70 degree January day on the Upper Davidson while my son was
riding on my shoulders. (I put him safely down and let him reel it in.)

Since there are about 35 years between me and both my dad and my son, we've been very fortunate for all three of us to be
able to go trout fishing together. We're quite a sight working our way up the stream, as I carry our gear up to the next pool,
come back and carry my 4 year old son up, and then come back and help my dad stumble up to the next spot. The time is
fleeting, so I try to enjoy every minute with them (and prevent injuries.)

One last note: if you don't have a dad or child who likes to fish, take someone else who enjoys fishing. You may be surprised
just what an encouragement it is. Oh, yeah, and they'll probably enjoy it, too.
The Base of Upper Falls on Big Sandy
Creek Stone Mountain State Park, NC
Grandpa and Grandson Fishing on Upper Creek
Father and Son Fishing at Stone Mountain State Park, NC
Some  things I learned on fishing trips with my dad and children:
Keep your fly rod away from open car doors and the trunk's hinges and latch.
Keep your fly rod horizontal when stringing the line through the eyes, unless you like starting over.
Woodchuck holes can crack your ribs.
Salmon basically stop eating when they enter fresh water. All those pictures you see of thousands of salmon running
upstream don't show you how difficult it is to get them to bite.
Mountain laurel is nature's way of protecting otherwise vulnerable trout.
Always hold the rod tip when you're helping a child (or Dad) with his fly or lure.
It's always great to go fishing with another person; otherwise, who's going to pull your waders off at the end of the day?
Backpacking and hiking are great ways to find eager trout, and enjoy the fishing all to yourself.
Keep kids out of eyesight of one another, if possible, while they are fishing.
Fishing is a lot better than watching TV.
Prepare for rain. Lots of it.
The greatest gift a Dad can give is his time.
A trail that follows a stream does not always go downhill even though the stream does.
Dad's waders are whichever pair is in the best condition.
Dad's backpack is whichever one is lighter.
A bad day fishing is truly better than a good day at work.
Bring an ample supply of toilet paper when you go fishing.
Keep your toilet paper in a water proof bag.
If you see a bear, you don't have to outrun it. You simply have to outrun your dad.
Wrap it around the tree.
Deep Creek Trailhead On US 441