I sneak to the back of the trailer and grab my fly rod and bag to avoid being noticed by the kids chomping down on breakfast inside. The morning sun is quiet and the melodic sound of the river drudges up excitement in my mind. I take the back trail so that my kids are not encouraged to follow (I try not to encourage my kids to get into nature or do any form of physical exercise).
With coffee cup in hand and flip flops flopping through rocky terrain, I swish through the tall grass to the river. The water glistens and birds chirp in the distance. A feeling wells up similar to seeing a best friend after a long distance separation- if I could hug it, I would. I take a long gulp of coffee and inhale the refreshing moment of being alo….. What the heck why are there people fishing on my stretch of river!?!!
One guy down stream and one guy up stream!? This is my secluded spot- how did they find this? I look at both of them all dressed to the fly fishing nines and most likely up at 4 am to fish…and there I am at 9 am in the middle of the two, balancing a coffee cup and fly rod, and wading with flip flops, yoga pants and showcasing a wicked form of morning hair.
I cast for a moment but know I am being judged. More than likely one of them was looking forward to casting to exactly where I was standing- but this is MY spot. I want to yell out to them- ‘I actually have waders and gear. I caught a monster brown trout here last night- I know how to fly fish even though I don’t look put together’. Another case of caring what others are thinking and assuming they believe I am crazy.
Instead of retreating to find another space to be alone, I decide to stay and hope they are scared away by my anger vibes I am throwing in both directions (childish, I know). One leaves immediately (he must be married). I wish I had some sort of a flag that they would see and think “oh yep, she is a mom of three and she hardly gets any time alone. She is also on the edge of a breakdown if she doesn’t get some river time. I should let her have this stretch since I fish all of the time”.
I’m not sure if it is the need to be alone or the embarrassment of fishing in my pajamas, but I get one of my nymphs stuck on a rock and instead of wading out to retrieve it, I break the line…Moments after, I hear, “MOM!!!” in the distance and my black lab comes piling excitedly into the water. Guess it’s time to go get dressed….peaceful moment alone on the river is shattered, frustrations pile back on my shoulders like a 50 lb. back pack full of things you can’t have but have to carry around. I look at the river and sigh- so many beautiful fish only 200 ft. from my trailer door and now I am walking away (write this down so you remember this: parenthood is hard sometimes).
The kids are running around outside in their pajamas and my husband smiles when he sees me walking up with my fly rod in hand. “I knew you were going to do more than take pictures”. He laughs and tells me I should just keep fishing. I growl at him, trying to be careful what I say.
My daughter runs up to me and says she is bored and my son says-“This place is not fun”. I roll my eyes, thinking they should be glad that I sacrificed river time to dress them. I sit next to my husband to try to have a moment of drinking coffee and planning for the day. After about 2 minutes of sitting, I smell something.
“Do you smell that?” I ask.
“Yucky poo”, my toddler chimes in….
My five year old starts screaming all of a sudden. It echoes off of the canyon rocks and I’m sure the entire valley thinks someone is being beaten.
“What happened?!” I ask as caring sounding as possible.
“I threw rocks into my eyes”, he says.
We wash it out. I change the diaper. I go into the trailer to pack a picnic and someone had left the door opened- flies are darting everywhere.
“Whose idea was this? This is a horrible idea- to camp next to a river teeming with brown trout, with kids who are already wild from their first week of school and need so much more attention than money or movies could even buy/persuade. And not only that- but naptime will be the worst time of the day to fish! Morning hatch- breakfast, Middle of the day heat- nap time, Evening hatch- dinner and bedtime”.
I’m partially a fisher-woman and partially a mom in this moment- doing both horribly it feels like.
“Ok how about we take them for a while and try to take turns fishing with them near the shore and you can fish tonight at dinner”. My husband kindly suggests.
“Ok, I guess”, I spout off flippantly like a teenager unsatisfied with her parent’s evening parameters but deciding it is better than nothing. I truly can be a selfish, horrid, human being.
My husband adds, “I want the kids to have great memories of camping with us so we have to make sure we are doing fun stuff for them too…(things I normally say)”.
“I did fun stuff all week with them… (Pity party pause and shift from one leg to the other) No, you are right, I’ll fish tonight. I don’t know what my problem is!”.
We load into the car and drive down to the natural hot springs that runs into the river.
It takes me a while to stop perusing at the river and to change my thought process- I need to be active in the time I have with my kids instead of treating it like a work shift that will end eventually today. What time do I get off again? Just kidding. I set aside my selfish ways and ask God to help me be present, be involved, and to stop feeling sorry for myself for having to/getting to do normal life routines. I am beyond thankful for my life, but feel stretched- I think waiting until the weekend to take a moment to de-stress or be alone is not a smart way to do life… (write this down: parents, take care of you too).
My two yr. old climbs onto my lap and I pretend I am a boat- gosh he is adorable. We all huddle together to swirl around the cold water and hot water so that it creates a momentarily perfect temperature- the kids and husband smile and so do I.
We take a few more trips of exploring and lunch, then head back for nap time. The trailer is so full of flies it is impossible to ask the kids to sleep. Since I know that if the kids are asleep I can get my feet in the water, I become a psycho- serial fly killer woman. With a wet rag in one hand and a magazine in the other, I start straight up massacring flies. It becomes a game almost, like pop the weasel, only this time it is messy and my reward will be the alone time I am so craving. My kids are cheering- “Go mom, go mom, go mom”! My daughter takes a swing at a fly and kills it, picks it up with her hand and yells,
“Mom! I killed my first fly!”
“Throw it down! Good job, I’m so proud of you”
“I hope I can be a fly fisher and fly killer like you when I grow up”, she says.
I laugh and continue to kill flies. The trailer looks like the aftermath of a war zone. I search for living flies among the dead but find no survivors, thankfully. We clean up the fly mess, turn on the generator for the AC, I promise my husband it will be his turn later and I tip toe back to the river. It’s around 4 pm now, perfect. Aren’t you so excited for me?
Maybe it was the anger I released by killing flies, or the moments I had of good parental involvement at the hot springs that made me feel like I had done something right today, but the river this time did not feel as rushed. With no dudes fishing next to me, and an open river in front of me, I felt like I could do my normal routines of exploring, casting, and enjoying- versus trying to catch a fish as fast as possible, which is stupid.
I tie on a crane fly since I had noticed a few in the air and had caught a nice fish on one last night. Fish were slurping around but I did not see any hitting the surface with force. I drifted it through various areas where one would normally get a hit. A bubble of water formed only 10 ft. dead downstream from where I was wading. I quickly set up a nymph rig with a copper john and a split case pmd to dangle deliciously on the end. During the second cast out I mend the line upstream and as soon as it sweeps over the spot where the bubbles lurked before, my indicator went under and I set the hook.
This part is my favorite part: the dance of reeling in, making sure the line doesn’t break and then moving slowly behind the fish to net it unexpectedly. I’m not sure if it’s from my beginner days or just the fact that I have lost a few fish by rushing the netting process, but I don’t allow myself to be excited until the fish is in the net. She is a beauty (said with an Australian accent like Steve Erwin would of).
The brown trout is full of eggs; I can tell by her chubby belly. So I don’t handle her too much but do snap a few pictures. I pick her up out of the net to hold her underwater and make sure she is well enough to swim off. She hangs there for a moment and then I let her go- she swims only a foot away and rests right next to me. We watch each other for a while. I think she was checking out my blue bracelets…
YES! I love experiencing these moments with fish! Part of me wants to catch a million more, but the other part of me is satisfied enough to walk back to the trailer. With a big smile on my face, I head back to the family, to be present, to be the camp mom and to show off my catch to my kids. My dear husband has made dinner and the kids are well rested and ready to play.
After prayer, murdering flies, getting my selfish desires in check, and catching a majestic brown trout, I am now adjusted and capable of balancing it all again. Bring on the next week of school and the camp laundry, Im ready. (I even let my husband fish the evening after dinner hatch! See I can also not be a selfish horrid person. ;))
I guess I can be partially in water and partially out- I just have to do it with better grace. Fly fishing parents, tell me this has happened to you? 🙂 Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful, adventure-filled weekend!
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