When you are dating, and on a fishing date, you try to be as utterly charming as possible. You may let your boyfriend/girlfriend catch all the fish just so you can see them glow. You may slap the water on purpose with your fly so that it scares the fish towards your potential mate- so you can wink at them in a ‘how you doin’ sort of way. Then you tell them how amazing they are and you don’t even care if you catch a single fish, you just ‘want to be together in nature’.
Then you get married…..from then on if you fish together it is half ‘fun and sparkles’, and the other half is a serious competition,
[Like the example from Dumb and Dumber when the girl throws the snow ball at Harry and he full on bombs her as hard as he can with a snow ball to ‘win’].
Well you are married now, so you don’t have to impress each other as much. Your inner animal, that wants to win all the time, rears its ugly head at times, but you try to keep it tamed down because after all, you still have to live with this person when the game day is over.
But then you have kids….GAME CHANGER
If by chance you have a baby sitter for a day on the river, the kind of day that happens maybe two times out of the year on average, its going to be hilarious, (to the onlookers that is). Whichever spouse has been fishing the longest will be utterly ruthless to start with- handing over some potential flies to their baby daddy/mommy and then quickly moving to the best fishing spot on the river to get a head start (horrible humans).
The newest factor added to the equation is TIME, you know you have one day and it has to be the kind of day full of memories that you can drink from while the rest of the fish-less, kid-filled, days roll on in the upcoming year. So every cast has to count, every fish must be photographed, and whomever wins the competition will be the reigning champ for at least a year.
The selfish spouse catches two nice size fish, while the mate is down stream, saying things under their breath. Once the selfish spouse realizes they are going to win, and they caught a few nice fish, they turn back into a decent human and decide they should try to make it a good day for their ‘other half’ as well, because remember- today’s memories will be forever etched in solid stone. And you should probably try to re-get to know this person that takes care of your kids (you know like have a conversation that doesn’t include bills or kid troubles).
I ultimately feel bad for the FLY FISHING DADS (in bold so if you are a good dad then I think you are great). These dads have to be out with fly fishing moms! If you are both addicted, you know that the mom has the right of way because she has been in the house with the kids all week and is at her breaking point! For your own possible survival, and for your offspring’s, it only makes sense you give her the best stretch of river. And be prepared, if you decide to bring the baby, you will have to have it almost the entire time. Believe me, its for your own good.
I was able to witness this on my last fishing day with my husband, a couple was fishing upstream from us and the mom was in the best place possible on the river. The husband had the baby in the back pack and was fishing as well- until the baby started shrieking. I loved what happened next because it brought me back to my baby backpack days (last summer). The mom kept up her hard core fishing, as in didn’t even look over or ask the husband if he pinched the baby or hooked it (!). The husband starts bouncing around, while continuing to fish. Could it be the baby was terrified that its feet were almost touching the water and giant fly was whisking by its baby ear drums? Na…
The husband yelled that he didn’t know what was wrong and the wife just kept fishing…I loved this. We ended up leaving so the little adorable fishing family could work out their issues in private. Its all worth it though- for that mom to catch a fish- she will be a better mother/wife after she does so. Here let me clap for the husbands (my husband) who does these sorts of things, even though they really need a day on the river as well…<<<< That is a clap and Ill throw in one of these too !!!:}
At another spot we went to we were able to hear a old man yelling at his more than likely wife, “Your doing it all wrong! Stop slapping the water”. And she said, “Heck with it” and went to the car. They were definitely married.
So here are a few other things to expect/work on when fishing with a spouse:
1. The Netting Process- A tedious dance that could cause major long term damages to your marriage if not done correctly. It generally ends up with a person yelling “Its over here” or “Your doing it wrong” or “Just give me the net, Ill do it myself”. All things you would not say if you were with a friend…hmmm. Don’t lose your spouses big fish though- bad things will happen.
2. The Space- Fish near your spouse when you are both happy. Fish as far away as you possibly can when you are both frustrated.
3.The Photographer- Just like the memories that will outline your future marriage success, the pictures will forever be with/haunt you. You may say things like this “Don’t get my butt in the picture” or “Make sure you get a good shot of its spots” or “Why aren’t you taking more pictures?”…This is a hilarious moment for onlookers by the way. But do make sure you get a couples selfi- so that you can show eveyrone how much fun you are having together, even if you are fighting in reality. Look here he cut my fish’ tail off…uhg. 😉
4. Tending to the Line- There is no doubt the one who has been fishing the longest will be doing some serious line tying, especially if nymphing. There may be a moment where the line-tier is in the middle of an epic hatch, with fish jumping all around and they momentarily tell you to tie your own line. Forgive them. Otherwise, they want you to catch fish too so they tie and tie and tie- this is their love language, thank them later.
5. The Truth- The real feelings and words will come out when you are with a spouse. When we fish with friends we hold back our exuberance and tone down our anger- but with a spouse, you say everything that comes to mind. And you laugh at things that may not normally be appropriate to laugh at- like a hook getting stuck in ones finger or the time you asked your husband to take a picture and then he went to get his fly rod and forgot where it went and you found it in the water (that one was too personal). If you have to- try to pretend like you are fishing with a new person you just met, thats my best advice. This is Eric saying roarrrr…
Leave as Friends- You may start out in serious competition, taking your parental frustrations out on the river and on each other, but in the end, you are there to grow closer, to relax and to enjoy a bit of life together. If you are a serious addicted fly fisher then you should not take your spouse to the river (or go the day before so you are not a jerk). And even if you do fight most of the day- make it right people, make it right!
On our fishing day together we were all across the board- giddy to be out on the river together- past the carrying kid stages (my friends and I call it “Out of the Trenches”), and then frustrated at each other for having to re-tie line on line or search for a missing fly rod or net a big fish for each other instead of fishing ourselves. But at the end of the day, I looked at him differently- I remembered that there are things I really like about him and I want to keep him around for more than fatherhood (haha parents know what Im saying here). I taught him how to fish with nymphs and he taught me how to carry my coffee mug in the truck without spilling it. We laughed really hard at moments and so that is why I am going to give a vote out and say you SHOULD fish with your spouse, no matter how dangerous it may be. I see some awesome fishing days in our future…or even fights next to the river- but what a better place to fight right?
Happy fishing, oh decent humans! Shove that animal spirit down deep and let your spouse catch the big one! 😉 Spouses that fish together, stay together. Im pretty sure it is actually “pray” together, but you could also put “play together”. So many options here! Marriage and parenthood is tough sometimes- you got to have some fun!
Anyone else have some great ideas about fishing or playing sports with their spouses?