A view from Pennsylvania: A trout can stretch across the continent
I have always been proud that I encouraged my kids to be courageous and go where they needed to, to follow their careers. But honestly, I never dreamed that three of them would go out of state, and two of them would end up in the West.
Makes me kinda sad when I allow myself to think about it, so I mostly don’t. But every now and then something happens to make them seem a bit closer. Had one of those experiences recently.
My son and his 5-year-old daughter were wet wading a small, spring-fed creek in central Oregon called the Fall River. He wasn’t fishing seriously, just dropping an Adams dry fly in promising pockets of an unfamiliar stream. He was pretty sure the water held a few wild rainbows but hadn’t seen any sign of a fish.
They were on a camping trip, taking a break from kayaking with the kids on a nearby lake. My daughter-in-law was on the bank with their younger daughter, videoing father and daughter splashing by, when he saw a subtle rise by a brush pile. He made a good cast and the fish took the fly.
It turned out to be a strong and handsome 19-inch wild brown, and on a light 5X tippet it put up an epic struggle. Twice the fish snagged the leader on dead wood in the stream but miraculously stayed hooked while my son awkwardly grabbed branches and removed them from the water.
But it was so cool because I got to see the whole thing. It was like watching a fishing show on TV, featuring my family.
My favorite parts were just after he hooked the trout and realized how big it was — and it got snagged on the brush pile and he realized he had to go in deeper to free it — he handed his phone and wallet to his little girl, saying “give these to your mom.”
I held my breath while she cautiously waded 15 yards or so to the bank for the handoff, holding the valuables high and dry.
And later, just before he had her release the fish, she gently moved it back and forth in the shallows to push water through its gills. She solemnly and carefully revived it.
And for a few moments, for me, Oregon didn’t seem so far away.