When you don’t tell anyone what you are planning because you’re sure they would think you are crazy, you may be a fly fishing adventure mom. You let people know you will be gone for a week, but only share the details in short snippets you estimate they can handle. For example, “Ya, we’re going camping for a few days.” Then, “In a tent.” Then, “With 5 children and just moms”. But you don’t share that last part until you are almost out of cell service so they don’t have time to talk you out of it.
But to get out of cell service, winding down the river roads, kids jolly in the back (or usually car sick), and nothing planned besides trying to keep your prodigy alive and catch some Westlope Cutthroat with some other humans that have similar ideas of fun, the kind that you say ‘ we should camp with all of our kids on a river in the middle of nowhere’ and instead of laughing they respond, ‘ya, tell me when you can go’, it’s worth appearing crazy.
What I love about fly fishing moms is that we have an unspoken language, and understanding of each other- that we are still parents, but we are also fly fishing addicts. We take turns making sure the children are alive while also trying to match the hatch out of the corner of our eyes. It’s not always graceful, actually it’s usually not even a tiny bit graceful. When we pull up to the fly fishing spot of the afternoon, most people literally run as far down stream as they can. Kids, water guns, fly rods, snack bags, a pile of chips where the kids can’t seem to fit enough in their mouths. A cloud of sunscreen and then mothers dispersing in all river directions, with out any communication what-so-ever. I am actually not even sure I had a full conversation with any of the moms on our trip. We feed, we clean, we feed, we fish, we try to make good memories, we each have our moments of either physically holding a child down in their sleeping bag or throwing a picky eater’s sandwhich off the cliff, and we get that.
It’s a very fine balance for fly fishing moms- making sure the kids are having a good time so they like these trips and remember having a cool mom, but then also finding moments to ourselves to de-stress and catch fish, without losing our cool and tying our children to a tree. The picture above was a great moment, the fish were hitting hard so the kids were excited to help me net. Apparently this fish was not approved by all in the group.
There were several moments of laughing under my breath, thinking how funny we looked or noting the hilarious things we had to say, like, ‘don’t dip your hot dog in the dirt’, but one of my favorite awkward-river moments of our recent fly mom trip was at one of the most beautiful stretches of river I had seen all summer, on the upper Saint Joe river in Idaho.
The children were equally excited by the prospects of fun at this section of river because the slate rock and several garnets found initially in the sand. With their gold panning stuff from grandma Lulu, they headed all over to find treasures. Meagan went up, Holly went down, and I stayed center in order to be closest to the smallest of explorers, my little four year old. The battle of selfish time, meets fishy riffles, meets needy four year old, started out rough. With only a few casts away I knew there were some majestic fish, but I couldn’t go there…. He fell once so I scooped him up and sat with him for a bit, trying not to drool at the water. He wanted to go explore with the other kids so I took a heavy exhale and grabbed my fly rod, while watching him toddle over rocks towards the treasure gang. One cast out, I hear crying again. He fell again. Fly rod down, cuddle, exhale…repeat. Repeat at least 5 times. On the fifth fall, one of the treasure seekers threw a huge rock across the river…. and then one of my other children had to go potty, the not fun in the woods kind. *sigh* *scream inside*. Then one after the other, had to use the “outdoor toilet” (a hole). I felt divided, wanted to be present and also wanted to be far off down the river…But then the little voice from the day before crept into my mind, ‘Mama, I want to be near you’, my little explorer yelled out to me. So this happened, again….:)
Once the kids settled down, I fished as hard as I could, switching from dries to nymphs to streamers, with not one fish. After that, I realized we needed to re-organize our days to meet the demands of bathroom time and to make sure we hit the river at the prime times…and to bring lots of food to throw at them when the fishing was good (which was pretty much every other time we fished over the weekend).
I want to fish because I love seeing fish and sharing this with my children, even my middle child, Cayden, caught a trout on his fly rod all by himself, but it’s much more than just fishing to me. If you look at the entire week from fly fishing perspective, it may have caused you so much anxiety, all of that fishy water right there in front of us, all conveniently not in kid-friendly spaces. But even though it was chaotic and often stressful moving these little humans around and keeping them fed, I felt so at home out there with them. Maybe it was the lack of cell service, or the fact that they could just dig into the dirt, or that we didn’t have to race off to any appointments, whatever it was, I did’t want to leave. I am actually still there in my head, wondering if I can re-organize my life in order to live out there permanently.
I’m making my loved ones nervous though. They have asked how my camping trip was, with a smug grin, waiting for a terror story about camping for that long with kids, and I have to be honest and tell them that it was a great time and I actually don’t want to be doing real life. Something may be wrong with me, but I think maybe I have just found the place where I feel like I’m mostly me and I can be mostly a fishy lady and mostly a mom and that’s just right. Or I just was seriously sleep deprived and forgot all of the terrible times, which is quite possible. Believe me though, I was so glad my husband showed up, so I could fish a bit and have help packing the five weeks of stuff I brought!! Here are a few more pictures, with commentary, of course:
Timeout in the woods is centered around standing on a leaf. And this is the little tent troll that ended up getting restrained. He also is a snake charmer….but this one was dead and he carried it around like his teddy bear. It was weird.
Apparently our children have never used a pay phone. We drove to Avery to make a quick call and they thought it was the best part of their day…
We found the jail five days too late…dang. We need one of these for our next trip.
More of camp-life. God bless Holly for bringing cars and God bless Meagan for bringing an Ipad for those mornings we missed Netflix and craved quiet!
Holly landing a nice cutthroat and being a stellar mom at the same time. 🙂
The brave crew, including Britt Davenport who came with her husband and cooked us breakfasts!!
Thanks, Holly, for getting this picture where I look like a really peaceful mom and it looks like my husband got to fish a bunch. In truth, I had caught a fair share of fish and told him he could use the fly rod for a bit. Poor guy. Corbin loves river-side snuggle time though, and so do I. P.S. I’m pretty sure we kept up with the other fisher folks around us, bad ass fly fishing mamas can tackle kids and matching the hatch!
Too many pictures to post and too many awkward river moments to list, but I’m sure you can tell I loved it. 😉 Hope my kids don’t have to go to therapy someday for my river-addiction. They will have some strange memories though, no doubt. 😉 Tight lines, mamas!