August 14 & 15, 2012
The more your personal time on the water adds up the more you enjoy setting the rod down and taking others fishing. For me, unless it’s a new species or an especially large fish I’m actually happier to see someone else stick a fish, especially if it’s my nieces. These last two days Granny and I have been camping, fishing and hiking with our three nieces (five, eight and ten years old).
You may remember Sierra, Montana and Sammy over the years. These little girls have done some trout fishing with us in the past and most recently, warmwater fly fishing with me back in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is where the girls really started to pick up the fly casting and the actual understanding of what fly fishing is all about. Of course, what certainly excelled them along were the pink Ross fly rod and reel outfits I got them for Christmas.
Granny and I, my bro and his wife, my sister and her husband and the kids drove up to one of our favorite family campsites near Jackson Hole on Monday night. It was a dusty smokey drive all the way. The fires are really starting to show their presence. But once we arrived at this spectacular camp it was nothing but a great sunset, good food, cold beer and fun fun fun.
This already small river we camp and fish on is frighteningly low. Honestly, its half its normal size due to this years lack of precipitation. To give you an example, normally I hang on to the girls when we wade across, but with the exception of little Sierra, they could wade across themselves.
The water was warm as well. This is undoubtedly why the cutthroats were few and far between. While the adults nailed a few trout, none of the three girls landed a cutty on their own. However, kids just need action and any competent fishing guide heightens the quarry available. The mountain whitefish were active in hoards. Each morning and each evening the surface boiled with rising whitefish. It was an absolute dream situation for keeping a kids interest. Both days we took advantage of non-stop excellent dry fly fishing for whitefish.
Almost eleven year old Sammy is the perfect age to learn to fly fish. She did an incredible job not only with her casting but more impressively her line control was amazing. It’s hard to teach any beginner how to retrieve slack on an upstream presentation with a dry fly but she did fantastic. Thus her results too were great. She constantly had fish eating her Parachute Adams and landed a handful of whities.
Montana and Sierra did great with their casting as well. But at five and eight years, the line management and ability to hook and land a fish wasn’t so easy. They both worked at fishing amazingly hard and had numerous whitefish eat their flies. The only bad thing about whiteys is that it’s hard to hook them with their tiny mouths. Sierra never got one herself and Montana got this one. Nonetheless, I’m excited to say they both still loved the fishing. Just seeing those whiteys munch their flies was enough to keep them in the game.
After yesterday mornings fishing session I decided to throw a little trudge up a mountain idea on the table. While Sammy surprisingly opted not to join, Sierra and Montana weren’t leaving my side for anything. And although their parents weren’t so sure about “Uncle Jeff’s” great idea, they let them go for the hike anyhow – assuring me that it was doubtful that they would make the summit of the mountain we picked out.
The mountain is one I’ve gazed at from camp every time we’re here. I knew it would be easy and I’m proud to say both Montana and Sierra made it to the top in less than an hour. Neither complained even once and in fact they thoroughly enjoyed the scramble.
On the way down we had even more fun. I picked up a few good sized rocks and started rolling them down the mountain side. Some of the rocks must have rolled and bounced all the way down for nearly three minutes. Others exploded apart when they rolled too fast and the girls giggled and screamed so much their stomachs must hurt. Before I knew it the three of us were shoving rocks down the mountain at every angle and I’m most certain my shoulder will be wrecked tomorrow!
It was a great weekend with the nieces. There’s nothing like seeing them light up when they catch a fish and the trip up the mountain was one they’ll always remember. The family heads home tomorrow then I’ll get one more day on the water later this week. Then Monday it’s the long trek back to New Hampshire to be with dad for his surgery. I’m confident all will go well and I’ll be posting some warmwater stories from Lake Winnipesaukee by next weeks end.