Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can you remember your first fly rod?

 After years of fishing walleye and bass tournaments and having three kids I knew the pace of my fishing was going to come to a screeching halt. There wasn't a weekend that went by and I was off on some pre fishing trip or at home fishing Lake Winnebago fine tuning my tournament approach. Often friends would ask how I got started fishing and my mind always
shot back to trout fishing on the Mecan River in Wisconsin when I was eleven.   To this day I can remember the very hole and that first "thump" on my pole. I'll never forget throwing that trout on the bank and looking at the colors and thinking how beautiful it was. It was cold that day and my fingers were froze and my toes were so cold in my rubber boots. I also remember the guides freezing up and how good the sun felt on my face when it finally shined on the river bank. 
  I trout fished on and off over the next thirty or so years but it was never anything meaningful and it always felt like a race to the stream and back home again. One Christmas a few years back my 8 year old son so proudly gave me a neatly wrapped package that he bought at a school charity event. Every year his school ran a "Elf's are Us" event where the children bought presents for their
moms and dads and proceeds would go to help cut cost of tuition. So I unwrapped my gift and low and behold my first fly rod...... a seven dollar fly rod. I looked it over, hugs and kisses where exchanged and Christmas went on and a new tournament of sorts was on my mind.  I needed to catch a fish on that fly rod. 
 Well come spring, our annual trips to the Driftless area of Wisconsin was the perfect place to give my new fly rod a whirl .So it was packed among other spinning gear and I made halfhearted efforts over the next five or six trips to catch a trout and I was unsuccessful . What I didn't realize was happening as time went by was that I was finally slowing down and soaking things in. I stumbled onto a fly shop in Virouqa WI called the Driftless Angler. I knew in my mind if I was going to catch a fish on this rod I needed to seek "Professional Help", so to speak. So I talked to Mat and Geri, the shop owners, and they hooked me up with a few basics, They fixed this thing you call a leader and tippet and asked if I had a thermometer at which point I held up  my index finger . A few pink squirrels, blue wing olives and a midge or three later out the door I went with more confidence than ever. Map in hand, I headed to the north fork of the Bad Axe. After working out a few casting issues I proceeded to catch my first brook trout on that  fly rod.
 Since then, I make even more trips to the driftless area with my two sons and always have my fly rod along. I  have moved on from the seven dollar version and I will never buy one of those thousand dollar sabers. I still am very frugal and just like that trout I caught when I was eleven, I will never forget my first fly rod. 

John McArdle
ALL photos and stories copyright@2011 and can not be reproduced without written permission.. 

1 comment:

  1. My first fly rod was a Wright & Mcgill Trailmaster I bought in 1976 for a pack trip into the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming with my then wife, step-daughter and father-in-law. I still have it, but have only used it one other time at a pond in Ohio three years ago. Now it's one of 30 or so other rods I own.