About 30 years ago, my brother was killed when his pickup rolled over in a barrow pit near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. He left behind his wife, daughter and two sons, one of whom, Brian, was 9 years old. My wife and I have just returned from an auto trip that included visiting Brian, his wife and daughters in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Brian has started fishing with his 10-year-old daughter and planned a fishing trip for us while we were visiting. His work schedule left a morning and part of an afternoon free for the three of us to go fishing. Thus, I packed my rod and gear in his rig for an early morning start. We set off toward Pike's Peak to fish the South Fork of the Platte River flowing as a freestone stream between reservoirs in Eleven Mile Canyon.
There were a lot of campers and fishers along the stream, but we found a stretch with just a few folks. Brian's daughter, Dylan, was the first to hit the river with her spinning rod and a brown trout lure. Brian followed her with his fly rod and I finally got into my waders and headed for the river.
There was a hatch of midges on the water, and an occasional caddis fly bounced on the water laying eggs for the next generation. I tied on a small brown caddis fly and watched Brian upstream casting nicely into a run just below some rapids. Dylan was nearby and when Brian hooked a fish I called out to her, "Dad has a fish on." She excitedly ran up the bank to be there and cheer when he landed it.
Dylan is nearly the same age as was her dad when, to give him some uncle and guy time, I took him to Canada to fish for Kamloops trout at a fish camp with six men and my brother-in-law and his son. At the lake cabin, I participated in Brian's education about fly fishing, camp cooking, handling a boat and enjoying the beauty of a remote fishing lake echoing with calling loons every evening.
Back on the river, I was only getting occasional, but not serious, interest in my now fourth fly pattern, I called out to Brian and he said he was connecting with rainbows using the elk hair caddis pattern I had first tried. So, I tied one back on.
Brian had mentioned this stretch was heavily fished, so I waded the river and crawled through brush and behind a boulder to get to a place under a cliff that was not easily accessed. It wasn't long before I brought in a brook trout. Having not caught one of these beautiful fish with multicolored spots for a long time, I kept it gently in the water until I renewed my visual appreciation and then released it. This was my first trout caught in the Platte River system.
Using roll and side-arm casts, because of the cliff above and behind me, I caught and released three small rainbow trout before it was time to go and get Brian back in time for work.
On the ride home, Brian told me how much it meant to him to finally take his uncle fishing and for me to catch trout. He said he was using the knots I had taught him to tie, casting as I had shown him and using fly and trout knowledge gained from our outings when he was a youngster. I was thrilled that Brian was passing on our fishing experience to an enthusiastic member of the next generation.
Brian kept several trout for his family, and Dylan was most interested in their insides when she helped him clean them. Brian's wife, Lisa, also had fish-cleaning experience, being from a commercial fishing family on the Texas coast, so there was no squeamishness passed on from the other side of the family. It was evident that fishing and fish had joined father and daughter for their very own time together.
As we rolled out of town on our way back to Washington, I felt a huge satisfaction in being just one link of a family tradition now being passed on in a loving father-daughter relationship. Most likely, the future will bring even more fond echoes of family fishing to yet another generation.