Topic: General Flyfishing
My grandson, Marshall, has just turned 3 years in March. He's all boy with a sense of adventure and inquisitive of his surroundings. I bought him a picture book of Construction Equipment for his birthday and, based upon the cover, he identified "Excavator" rather than "Tractor". Then, he proceeded to show me the "Backhoe" and the "Loader". Coming from a family of contractors, I should have knowned that he had all that figured out.
We got the family together for Memorial Day at our cabin in the Southern Sierra. As with any cabin, there are the work details to complete like sweeping pine needles and clearing the underbrush. With the light snowpack this year, we got an early start. However, every work detail has to be followed by a little recreation and we figured that it was just the time for Marshall to experience catching his first trout on a fly rod.
We live at just over 7000' elevation near the headwaters of the Little Kern River and there are a number of Forest roads available to head for small creeks. Since these are the headwaters of the Little Kern River, our choice of trout would be the Little Kern Golden.
We parked the truck near the trailhead and walked about a 1/4 mile to a meadow. Within this meadow was a small tributary about 2 feet wide and 2-3 feet deep. The banks are lush with grass and the bottom structure is dark with woody material mixed into the gravel. This is the home of the Little Kern Golden and here was the last vestage of hope from extinction when invasive species were allowed into their sanctuary during most of the 1900's within the waters downstream. In the 1980's, Calif. Fish and Game personnel were able to eliminate these invasive species above the natural waterfall barrier on the Little Kern and repopulate those waters with these fish. Fortunately, there is a shift away from widescale planting of hatchery trout and an appreciation of our native trout to continue to flourish within the waters that they have inhabited for over 20,000 years.
These streams are deceptively deep, even for a bird dog like, Star. The banks are undercut and there is no foothold, so he needs an assist. Point out these dangers to your kids as well.
Small Goldens are much like small kids, they are eager and active. We have to walk quietly and not get too close to the bank. Once they make your presence, they head for cover and remain. If they don't make your precence, you will have non-stop action with a dry fly. I tied on a size 18 BWO with a barbless hook and used a 7' 3 wt rod. It would have a 7 foot 5x leader with a 2 foot section of 7x tippet. We brought the kids up to the stream quietly...it's amazing how the kid's understand quiet when they want to. We positioned ourselves so that we could reach the water surface by extending the rod tip and allowing the wind to cast for us. Dropping the rod tip brought the fly to the surface and then the action would begin.
Most of the time, there would be a flash of water and nothing on the hook. Learning a proper hook set might take some time. But the kids are totally tuned-in. After 10 or more "hits", you finally get that "take". Forget the fish, take a look at the expression of the kid. Total concentration and exhilliration of something alive pulling on the line. Keeping tension on the line is the only hope of keeping that fish attached and this doesn't happen often. But when it does, you have your first trout.
The next lesson is to appreciate catch and release. We enjoy eating trout but we only keep those trout that we intend to feast upon that day. On most days, we never keep our catch. When you are in a lovely meadow as we are and you recognize that this is the home of a living creature that has given you the opportunity to enjoy an exhilirating experience, it is easy to understand the release of that trout will allow you and many other families to experience the same feelings in the future.
The beauty of the Golden trout is not only it's coloration but the delicate features it has. It is small, eager, and loves it's surroundings. Much like my grandson, Marshall