Fly-fishing Voices

Fly fishing: It was a good Christmas 

Local fly fishing guide and columnist, Don Oliver, lights a cigar in anticipation of the morning ahead, fishing for trout along Lime Creek — one of his favorite haunts.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Jeremy Wade Shockley

Christmas always signals the end of another year, which is only a week away. The past year was not unlike the year before it. Covid and the politicians are still with us. The fly fishing and weather were good. The best part of fly fishing is that my Friday partner didn’t quit. I have to say this Christmas has given me hope for the future. Not just fly fishing, but things in general. 

Christmas saw SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) and me in Texas with that State’s chapter of the Wild Bunch. It is so much fun watching an infant and a three-year-old open presents. The infant watching the paper hit the floor and then making a bee-line to eat it before anyone can stop her. The three-year-old was the best as he proclaimed after ripping the paper off a package, “It’s a box!” It took several unwrappings before he discovered that in the boxes were presents. In a box he opened he found his first fly fishing vest, to be used with Grumps. I received a picture of me teaching this grandson how to cast a spinning rod from last summer. Next summer a fly rod might appear.  

Grumps and SWMBO gave each other a puppy. Being empty-nesters can make you do silly things. However, I’m sure the new puppy will help us to move faster while saying, “No, No, No!” 

One of the most touching gifts I witnessed was a young teenage boy, helping his 94-year-old, World War II veteran, great-grandfather fish. This was on Christmas Eve, and I had wandered down to the pond in my grandchildren’s subdivision. I, of course, was using my fly rod, hoping to catch a bass or perch. I wasn’t catching anything, but noticed two other fishermen across the pond were reeling in fish. Needless to say, I walked over to visit and see what they were using for bait. Their bait of choice was raw hot dogs. The bait was attached to a size 10 hook with a large weight. Here is where the gift was given. The veteran, being 94, had a hard time casting the spinning rod. So, the young man would cast, then hand the rod to his great-grandfather, and help him reel, if needed. They would bring the fish in and the great- grandfather would touch the fish, as if counting coup, then release it. 

As I visited with them the great-grandfather remarked that he had caught his five fish and his great-grandson had only three. The young man joked back that he would work harder, but didn’t want to hurry so much that they ended up back in the house where there were way too many things that needed doing. What a joy to watch and talk to these two. 

When I got back to our house of festivities I recalled a story of another grandson finding a way to enjoy the day. He and SWMBO were at the dock on our pond and his line had gotten all tangled up. So, as SWMBO was untangling the line, he asked if could just use a length of line that had the San Juan worm to fish from the dock?  A young Tennessee Wild Buncher then began to hand-line for perch and bass. And he began to catch fish. So many that SWMBO had to help him take the fish off, after he counted coup. All this was occurring while at the other of the pond Grumps was using a fancy fly fishing outfit and not catching any fish. 

Those two stories reminded me that sometimes I get too caught up using fancy equipment and going to fancy places. I’m going to spend more time this year with someone, older or younger, putting a hotdog on a hook or dragging a handheld line along a dock. This is going to be a very good year. 

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