Friday, December 26, 2014

Winter Dry Fly

It had been a while since I had dedicated an entire day to dry fly fishing.  With all the streamer and euro nymphing techniques to learn, I had put aside my dry fly-only days to expand my knowledge in becoming a well-rounded angler.
"I'm only going to dry fly fish today, because I don't nymph!" Travis Swartz said, as we pulled in to gas up. 
"I don't want to hear it!" I said quickly.
"Oh geez, here we go!" Travis said, rolling his eyes.
"The last time we fished the South Fork, you threw on a nymph before you hit the water." I said, matter-of-factly.
"OKAY! I'm sorry, I didn't know you were going to take every word I said so literal." Travis said with a sigh, before he continued. "I guess, for YOU, I need to say that I would rather dry fly fish, but will nymph if I have to."
I sat and stared at him after he finished.
"What?" He asked.
"I didn't know you were so sensitive." I said, calmly.
"What?! NO!  I'm, just... I don't have time for this." Travis said, and stepped out of his car to fill his tank.
"Hey!" I yelled out to him, "Want me to chip in?"
"No, that's ok..." Travis said, unhooking the nozzle and sticking it in his car.  "Besides, I wouldn't offer to help you."
"Fair enough!" I said, and after filling up we took off to the South Fork.   
We geared up quickly and made our way to the river.
"Tell you what..." I said, "I'm going to cross the river here so that you can have this side all to yourself."
"OH! So you're saying that you will cross the river and hog the honey-hole, while I stay on this side to scrounge for a fish?" Travis said, adding, "Yeah... I have fished here before too!"  
It was true, I was about to hog all the glory while Travis watched with envy from the bad side of the river as I caught fish.
"Let's both cross the river and take turns picking off fish." I said, back-peddling. 
"No, no, no... I would hate to crowd you." Travis said, and when I hooked into a fish almost immediately on the other side, he considered my offer.  
"Come on, Trav!" I yelled over to him, "There are fish rising all over the place here." 
Travis ignored me, so I pitched out another cast, and WHAM, another fish! 
"TRAVIS!!!" I yelled out, so Travis could watch me bring in my fish.  
Before I could re-fluff the CDC on my suspended midge, Travis had made his way across the river to share the honey-hole.
"Did you see that?" I said, as another fish rose within easy casting distance.
"Yep!" Travis replied, and laid out his fly in striking distance from the fish; for Travis, that was pretty good...
"Come on, you." Travis said in a hushed tone to the fish, just before it ate his fly!  Travis lifted his rod, and the weight of the fish was imminent.   
"OH!  This is a nice fish!" Travis yelled, "At least 28 inches." The fish ran a few time before Travis was able to get its head out of the water for me to scoop up with the net.
"That is a nice fish!" I agreed, but it was no 28-incher. 
"You're getting a picture of me." Travis demanded, as he admired his fish.
"Oh can I, please?" I asked, sarcastically.
"Yes you may." Travis replied, as he fumbled to grab his fish.
"Don't lose it." I suggested. 
Travis just looked up at me with dead eyes, and said, "Really?!". 
Just as Travis lifted his fish out of the net, he lost grip of it and, luckily, dropped the fish back into the net.
"Give me your fly rod." I offered, and Travis handed it to me to free up total mobility. Though his hands were free, he was still unable to handle his fish.
"You want this picture so bad that you are going to screw it all up." I said.
"No I'm not!  It's just this fish, it won't settle down." Travis complained.
"Oh, sure...blame the fish." I added.
"Would you just be ready?!" Travis said, raising his voice.
"Yeah! Go!" I said, with the camera ready, and Travis picked up the fish.  

"Got it!" I said, before Travis gently slid his fish back into the water, and watched it swim away; his attention on the released fish was short due to another rise just in front of him.
"They are everywhere!" Travis said happily.
"Go ahead and get it. You need to catch up." I said, and Travis didn't waste any time.  He presented a fly to the rising fish, but the fly fell short of its target. Travis pulled more line out of his reel and went to make another cast, and a tree snagged the fly on his back cast.
"Aw hell..." Travis said, looking back at his fly.

"Stay there, I'll get it." I said, as Travis started to walk towards the snag. The tangle was not bad, and Travis was back to casting in no time. With a quick readjustment in his casting lane, Travis presented his fly perfectly, and the fish didn't disappoint. After a quick fight, and more fumbling around with the fish, Travis managed to hold up what he called a 31-inch fish for the camera.

"Okay, my turn." I said, casting to more rising fish.  The blue winged olives were starting to hatch, so I quickly switched flies after a few refusals.
"Gotcha!" I said, setting the hook on a fish.
"I'll show you how to handle a fish!" I said to Travis, who was watching with a camera ready.  My fish got close, then made another run, tearing line from my reel.
"WHOA!" I yelled, as my reel screamed to life.
"Here we go!" Travis chimed in.  The fish was putting up a great fight, but my 4wt fly rod was holding its own.  Finally the fish came in, and I scooped it up into my net.

"This is how you hold a fish for the camera!" I yelled at Travis, whom had fumbled with both of his fish before we could get a picture of them.  I held the fish and brought it up, but the fish kicked hard and out of my hands.  SPLASH!  The fish hit the water and there was no net for it to fall in.
"NO! NO!" I yelled, as Travis laughed at my blunder.  The fish started swimming away, but I knew I still had it hooked.
"Get over here!" I yelled, and raised my rod to bring the fish back to scoop up.
"Okay, I'm ready." I said, this time having a better hold on my fish as Travis snapped a picture.

I let my fish go and  looked up to see fish boiling all around me. Travis was already timing a fish, and presenting a cast before I had dried my fly.   

It was an absolute dream: together Travis and I took turns hooking into fish.  Laughing like a couple of kids, we casted to fish after fish, hooking a few in the process.  An incredibly large fish rose in the middle of the river, and both Travis and I stopped casting.
"Tell me you saw that!" Travis said in awe.
"I saw it. That was a huge fish." I replied.  The sad thing was, the large fish that just rose was too far out in the river.  The cast wasn't impossible, but it would require us wading out and possibly blowing out the line of feeding fish we were casting to. Also, even if we did wade out, there wasn't enough room for a nice back cast and the fish may not rise again. We both watched to see if the fish would surface again, and when it didn't we went back to fishing.  Though many fish were caught by the both of us, in the middle of the hatch neither one of us was willing to snap a picture of each other's fish.  Regrettably, this picture I snapped of Travis bringing in a fish was the only time I stopped to capture the moment.

"I think we caught all the fish here, Trav." I said, after a while had past without a fish.
"Happens to me every time..." Travis said, pulling up his line. We both made our way back to the car, and to another spot on the river that Travis had had luck in the passed.

Travis hit the water first. I was only a minute behind, and called out to Travis.
"Any rising fish?" I asked.
"Only one!" Travis yelled back, fighting a fish.
"Well, look at you!" I said with a smile, and brought out my camera to snap a picture.

"This one's over 20!" Travis yelled.
"Let's get a picture!" I yelled back, but as I approached Travis dropped his net into the water, allowing enough space for the fish to swim out.
"Darn!  It got away." Travis said, "It's too bad you missed it; it was huge."
"I'm sure it was..." I replied.
Just then I saw a fish rise, and it stole my attention.  I got into position and waited for it to rise, but nothing was happening. Surly I didn't spook it, I thought as I stood still, watching the spot like a hawk.  It rose again, then again before I pitched out my fly.  The fish was not interested in my fly, even after a few more attempts with several different patterns.  With time running out I decided to break the hatch with a Pico ant, and I didn't wait for the fish to rise before I threw it out.  The Pico ant hit the water, and the fish pounced on it! My arm shot up, setting the hook, before I knew what was going on, and the hooked fish thrashed to get away! 
"Well, it's about time." Travis hollered, while wading quickly towards me for a possible picture. But it didn't happen.  As I chased the fish downstream I gained control and brought it up to my net.  A big rock offered a nice backflow which presented an opportunity to land this crazy fish. With my arm reaching up as far as it could, I slipped the net towards the fish, which spit my fly at that exact moment.  The fish, not knowing it was not hooked, sat on the rock for a second, then shot into life, jetting up and over the rock! 
"No!" I yelled, as I slapped my net in the path of the fish. But it was useless: the fish was gone.

"What happened?" Travis asked, now standing right behind me.
"It got away..." I said, sounding pitiful.
"By the looks of it, that's a good thing.  I thought you were trying to club the poor fish to death with your net." Travis said with a laugh, adding, "You just need to learn patience."
"Patience?" I asked.
"Yes!" He said, as we walked back to the car.
"If you had patience you would be holding a trout right now for a picture." Travis finished.
"I don't think you know what you're talking about." I replied.

"Can you see the deer?" I asked, after I finished gearing down.
"Well look at that... magnificent creature." Travis said in awe.
"You like deer?" I asked.
"Yes! They are so peaceful. The way they walk and look around." Travis said, as we both watched the deer make its way up the hill.
"What if someone shot it right now?" Travis asked, plainly.
"What? Why would you say that?" I asked sharply.
"I'm just saying... Wouldn't that suck?  I mean, here we are enjoying this peaceful creature, then BLAM!" Travis said, adding some arm gestures to emphasize his point while not looking away from the deer.
"You ruined it. You ruined the moment." I said.
"ME?" Travis asked loudly. "You are the one that needs to learn patience!"
What those two instances had in common was beyond me, so I chose not to respond.  Instead, we both watched as the deer went out of eye shot, before getting into the car and ending a good dry fly day on the South Fork. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Poop Pipe

For weeks now the 7th grade students of Anser Charter School have been meeting up to fly fish the Boise River, and the success rate of the students that fish in my section of water had spread like wildfire.  Small talk amongst the students before every outing was about who was going to be the lucky ones to fish the pipe!  Yes it was true, in my section there is a pipe that is clearly visible under the water, and it creates a nice break for fish to pile up behind.  
What the students don't know is that directly across the river from the pipe is a sewer plant, and to many anglers this particular landmark is known as the poop pipe. 

The snow was falling thick with a few inches already on the ground, which made for a great day to take pictures. As the students crossed the river, I noticed that every kid was bundled up as if they were going to spend the night at the North Pole. 

Before fishing today, Shawn, the brains behind the class, lined up the students to receive a gift.  The Women's Fly Fishers of Idaho spent a few evenings creating designer fly fishing lanyards for each student, and when each received their lanyard, the smiles that spread across their faces could warm the coldest winter day.

After the quick ceremony, it was time to fish.  John and I had a quick conversation about the recent steelhead planted in the Boise River by Idaho Fish and Game. 
"Wouldn't that be cool if one of the kids got into a steelhead?" I asked John, as we walked to our section of river. 
"That would be cool." John said before we split up and started fishing.

Audrey fished with me first, and after a quick tutorial on how to set a hook she was ready.  Her first fish got away, but the second fish was not so fortunate. Audrey's indicator went under, and she pulled back on her fly rod to set the hook!
"I got one!" She yelled, as the fish leapt from the water. Normally a jumping fish is a fun thing to watch: the leap from underwater as it breaks the surface, and the splash down that quickly follows. Only Audrey didn't give the fish time to splash back down.  At first sight of the fish, as it leapt from the water, Audrey set the hook again bringing the fish straight at my face! I felt like Neo from The Matrix as I bent back to avoid the fish hurling towards my face. Though others may say I looked like a seagull that couldn't fly, as the fish soared by me...
I quickly regained my composure and saw that Audrey was still fighting the fish.  I unhooked my net and scooped up Audrey's fish, making this the first fish she had ever caught!  

After a few photos, Audrey dipped her trout back into the water and let it go.

"I can't believe I actually caught a fish!" Audrey said excitedly. Her dad beamed as he watched his daughter from a short distance. 
"Give me a thumbs up." I said, lifting my camera, and Audrey was happy to oblige. 

Next to fish with me was Samson, and he wanted a fish so bad he could taste it.  Getting Samson to focus on fishing was a bit of a challenge; I had to lie and tell him that the fish would spook if he talked too much. It worked, but when his indicator went under he didn't set the hook. 
"Samson!" I said, and noticed he was looking away from his indicator. "You had a take!" 
"Oh man!" Samson moaned. 
"The fish know, Samson... They know when you are not paying attention, so you always have to pay attention." I explained, and he went back to fishing. 

Just downstream from us, Luke hooked into a fish.  I walked down to help, just as Connie netted his catch. 

The little white fish Luke caught would not stop flopping. I had my camera ready for a picture as Luke grabbed his fish and held it up.  Just as I snapped a picture, Luke's fish flopped again, right out of his hand. 

Luke quickly grabbed ahold of his fish for a better picture. 

The day was nearly over, and I had walked back to Samson to see how he was doing when I heard a yell echoing from upstream. 
It was John, and Brennan, the student he was fishing with, was hooked into a nice fish. 
"Beach it!" John yelled, and I saw the fish splash as it neared the shallow water. 
"He got a steelhead!" I whispered to myself in disbelief. 
"Can we go see?" Samson asked, and we both ran up to see Brennan's fish.   
As I got near, Brennan was doing his best to wrangle his fish. 
"Is it a steelhead?" I asked John.  John shook his head no with a huge smile on his face. I looked over to see the fish, and Brennan was holding up a large-scale suckerfish. 

The smile on Brennan's face was unmistakable.  Sure it was an ugly fish, but it was also the biggest fish caught out of any of the students during this class. Both Kai and Samson gathered around for one last picture with the sucker fish. 

We all stood and watched as Brennan set his fish back into the water, and it slowly swam away.  We walked back to join the rest of the class, and Brennan was reliving his suckerfish experience while the other students listened closely.  I, along with the other volunteers, were laughing about the memories of the class: fish being caught, kids falling in the river, fish being flung in our faces. We laughed and said our goodbyes as the kids filed out and handed in their fly rods for the last time. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Idaho Experience

After a few years of planning, my buddy, Shawn Pitman, and I were finally able to schedule a time to go fishing.  He had a couple friends coming into town that were looking for an "Idaho experience". Though his buddies, Wes Howard from Iowa and Kelly Mort from Southern California, didn't know how to fly fish, they were both up for the opportunity. Getting away from cell phone reception and hopefully catching a fish with a fly rod would be a cool experience, but what they ended up getting was a REAL Idaho experience.    

The bite from the 19 degree weather inspired us to gear up quickly, but it was going to take a little more than cold to damper our day. Shawn had spared no expense on all kinds of good food and drinks that would satisfy any palate, and after a few drinks, there was no worry of being cold.  A bald eagle soaring in the distance offered up a picturesque scene before we walked into the water. 

The feeling of water passing by their legs was enough to get them addicted to the sport, and before long, Wes was hooked into a nice rainbow trout!

The fish took his comparadun BWO pattern, and was not happy to be hooked.  Though Wes is a seasoned gear fisherman for bass, he admitted to loving the fight with a fly rod. Wes's years of experience translated nicely to fighting the fish with a fly rod.  With some quick maneuvers we were able to land his fish and, despite the cold, he took off his gloves and held up the fish for the camera.

Once Wes let the fish go, there were more fish rising all around us.  After a failed attempt to call Shawn and Kelly over to us, we went back to fishing.

The day was flying by and the sun started fading behind the canyon walls, which created a noticeable drop in the temperature. Shawn and I had walked upstream to fish a different run.  He mentioned that Kelly had caught a white fish, leaving Shawn as the only one who hadn't caught a fish.  I had some luck in the new run, but the fish seemed uninterested in Shawn's fly.  I took another shot at the fish and was unsuccessful. The cold was making the fly changing process take a lot longer than normal, so together we decided it was time to go, and fished our way back to the vehicle.

Upon our arrival, we discovered that Kelly had turned on the radio to listen to some music as he and Wes took off their gear.
"This isn't good." I said to Shawn, as we approached. Earlier that day, we had a small scare with the battery: it had enough juice to start Shawn's SUV, but just barely. We had left the engine running for a while to charge up the battery, and I thought it was clear that we were not to leave the doors open, let-alone run the radio, for fear the car wouldn't start the next time we tried it. 
"Please tell me you started the car so you didn't kill the battery?" Shawn asked, as we approved the SUV that had doors wide open, with all interior light on, and a blaring radio. 
"I turned it on for ten minutes." Kelly said.
"I told him not to turn on the radio." Wes chimed in, but whatever damage there was, was done.  Shawn shot me a look, as if asking, please tell me this thing will start, and my look back was not encouraging. 

Shawn quickly made his way to the driver seat, and turned the key... At 19 degrees and dropping, the worst sound in the world is the click click, of an engine failing to start due to a dead battery.  
Oh S#!t, I thought, as we sat there in silence after another failed attempt. As the outdoorsmen of the group, it would do us no good if I started to worry, and after a little game of Pass the Blame, I interrupted with the plan.
"Ok, guys.  If I walk upstream about a mile or so, I can get some service and call my wife." Though no one was happy about walking in this cold, we were out of options. 
Shawn and Wes joined me on the journey upstream, and as night fell, the dropping temperature started to bite at our faces.  When we reached a spot where I received service, I called my wife, Gracy, and after she confirmed AAA was on their way, we snapped a picture of the moment. 

If we thought it was cold before, it was nothing compared to our walk back. Our faces were covered and our heads were down to keep the artic breeze from piercing.
"Okay, guys..." Shawn said, breaking the silence. "Let's tell Kelly that we couldn't find service, and we had to turn back because we heard wolves."
"I'm game!" Wes said with no hesitation. 
"Me too." I said, not believing Kelly would go for it... and boy was I wrong! 
Upon our arrival, we all got back in the SUV before Shawn told Kelly the "bad news".
"Dude, Kelly. We have a problem. We had to turn back before we found service, because we heard wolves." Shawn said convincingly, even with the smile he hid behind the front of his jacket.

"Seriously?" Kelly asked, his eyes wide... "What are we going to do?"  He asked, as he started to rub his hands together.
"We may need to stay out here for the night." Wes said.
"We can't!" Kelly said, raising his voice, "I already can't get warm!"  He continued to rub his hands together, this time more aggressively.
"I can't feel them..." Kelly, said looking at his hands... then the shivering started.
"It's... soo... cold !" Kelly said behind violent shivers.  He curled himself in a ball, and was making va va va va va, sounds as he shivered.  We all started laughing at this point, but Kelly was too far gone to pick up on the sarcasm.
"Ok, seriously guys!" Shawn said, over our laughter, "What are we going to do?"
"YOU SERIOUSLY DON'T HAVE A PLAN?!" Kelly shrieked. He began gripping at his arms and rubbing his hands against his legs for warmth, murmuring "my hands, my hands."
"Kelly, stop freaking out." Shawn said. "Here!" Shawn added, reached back to Kelly. "put on these extra gloves."
I was now laughing so hard I was crying.  This is so mean, I thought to myself, then brought out my camera for a picture.
"We are going to make it through this." I said, "Now let's get a picture of you guys so that you can remember this moment."
"Come on, Bro!" Wes said, tapping Kelly to break him from the fetal position, "Let's take a picture." As soon as I saw that they were both looking my way, I snapped a shot that most certainly captured Kelly's state.

"What's our plan, Erik?" Shawn asked, regaining his composer.
"The closest town is about 20 miles from us... We could walk, and get service along the way." I said to him.
"20 miles?  No way!  It would be better if we stayed here for the night." Shawn said.
"I agree." I replied.
"We can't stay here..." Kelly said, through violent shivers, "We have to try..." Kelly took a long shivering breath. "...and send a message!"  
"None of us gets any service, Kelly." Wes said.
"Hold on, Kelly." Shawn said, and reached up to the windshield. The perspiration was frozen on the inside of the cab, and Shawn was writing something.
"There Kelly.  You think anyone will see this?" Shawn asked, as he shined a light on the windshield.
The three of us started laughing once again as Kelly slumped back into his seat, unhappy.
"Maybe we can send a message through prayer?" I suggested, after my laughter subdued.
"That's a good idea." Shawn said, "It will work better if we all hold hands." Shawn added reaching for Kelly's hand.  
"Come on, Kelly. Help us pray." Shawn said, as he took Kelly's hand. Playing along, Wes and I locked hands with Kelly and Shawn, but before Shawn could say anything, the three of us started laughing again.
"I don't see what's so funny." Kelly said, angry. "We are going to freeze if we stay out here! Wes, give me your phone." Kelly demanded. 
"There's no service." Wes said, as he handed over his phone.  Kelly snatched it from Wes's hand, and pointed it at the rear passenger side window.  When he got nothing, he held it to his window, then the moon roof.
"Come on, please." Kelly pleaded, then held the phone up so that it touched the roof of the SUV
"I GOT THREE BARS!" Kelly yelled.  We all looked in amazement as Kelly dialed his wife... the phone rang on speaker-phone.
"Hello," the voice said. Shawn looked over at me with eyes the size of quarters, just as shocked as I was that he actually got through.
"I need you to listen to me..." Kelly said, trying not to sound panicked.
"We are stranded out here, in the middle of nowhere." Kelly said, very clearly.
"What?" The voice replied.
"We are stranded and we need you to call Triple-A, to come and help us." Kelly said.
"Isn't Triple-A on the way?" The voice of Kelly's wife asked.
"No!  You need to call them for us!" Kelly spoke every syllable slowly, as he continued to speak. "Because.. We're running out of options, and it's freezing." The three of us started laughing again, but hushed up as Kelly's wife spoke again.
"But... I just got a message from Shawn saying that Triple-A was on their way."  The three of us began to laugh harder, and the light finally went on in Kelly's head.
"Oh... I hate you guys, I hate all you guys!" Kelly said, with a smile. 
Before Kelly hung up, Shawn confirmed that AAA was on the way, and that they had nothing to worry about. I brought out my camera to take a picture of Kelly's now-smiling face.

"I got punked!" Kelly said, as he joined us in laughter. "I can't believe you guys." He chuckled.
"I was freaking out!" He added, amongst our laughter.
"And look at you know!" I said, "You are not even shivering anymore!" That fact got us going even longer, as Kelly looked at his hands to see them not shaking.

It was about 30 more minutes before AAA showed up, and at the sight of the truck lights coming down the road we all cheered with excitement.  In a matter of five minutes, Shawn's SUV was started with the heater on full blast!
"Hey, Kelly!" I said, "How are you feeling now?"
"REALLY GOOD!" He said, with a smile so warm, it could melt the heart of the Wicked Witch!

We did not have the patience to wait for the frozen perspiration to thaw, so we used credit cards as ice scrapers so we could get going. 
"It's snowing." I told Shawn, as I scraped away.
"How much more do you need to scrape?" Shawn asked.
"I just want to make sure you can see." I replied.
"No.  You just want to make your side look better than mine!" He retorted, and held out his hand so that I could give him back his credit card. I handed it over, and as soon as Shawn had it in his hand, he said, "Sucker!" And reached up to continue scraping his side until it looked better than mine.

The bite of the cold quickly faded as we drove out of the canyon, and we continued to laugh as we relived Kelly's meltdown.
"I was just scared for my wife and kids." Kelly said, defensively.
"Oh, don't give me that!" Wes said back. "But do you know what the best part about this whole experience is?" Wes asked. I looked back to hear what Wes had to say.
"It was just this morning when Kelly was telling Shawn and I how cool it would be to be on one of those Amazing Race reality shows." 
"That's right!" Shawn said, remembering the conversation. "He wanted to know how we thought he would do!"  
"Well, if you want my opinion." I said, looking back to Kelly, "You wouldn't make it past the first episode." At this, everyone, including Kelly, started laughing.
"You are moving to Boise, right?" I asked Kelly, after we settled down. 
"Yes." He said.
"Well..." I said, after reflecting on the torment we just put Kelly through.
"Welcome to Idaho!" I said, and we all enjoyed a nice warm comfortable drive home after a rather interesting Idaho Experience.

Monday, November 10, 2014

7th Grade Fly Fishing Class

"Don't you wish you had the opportunity to take a fly fishing class when you were in seventh grade?" John Wolter, the owner of Anglers Fly Shop and my boss, asked me while we were tying flies in the shop.
"Heck yeah!" I said without hesitation.
"Well Nick's [John's son] school asked if I would be involved in a fly fishing class!" John said, enthusiastically.  He stood there looking at me with a simple smile on his face, waiting for my response. 
"Sounds fun." I said back to him.
"Yep..." He said, with the same happy smile. "And you know what else...?"
"I get to help?" I said... then quickly changed my tune. "I mean...  I GET TO HELP!!!"
"All riiiiiight!  I knew you would be thrilled!" John said, and before we knew it, twelve seventh graders were gearing up to try their luck on the Boise River.

Parents and a few ladies from the Woman Fly Fishers of Idaho club were there to help, and as soon as John recognized that all kids were present, he called out to the class.
"Okay guys, follow me." Every volunteer and student made their way across the water for a quick instruction.

In a short amount of time, John covered water loading and line control for nymphing, then released us in small groups to fish. 

Naomi, Kai, and Preston were the students in my group. Connie, from the woman's club, and Naomi's father were also there to help. We split the students up so that they were close by, yet far enough away from each other to avoid any entanglements.

The two boys looked like they had fly fished before, so I focused my attention on Naomi. As soon as she understood how to bend her line properly, her indicator darted under the water and zigzagged with a fish! 
"Set it!" I said quickly, but it was too late: the indicator popped back up, lifeless. 
"You need to set the hook when your indicator goes down, sweetie." Her dad said. 
"I don't know what that means." Naomi protested. 
"It means you need to pull back on your fly rod," I said. "That way you hook the fish. What if I said 'pull back'; would that help?" I asked. 
"Yes." Naomi said. 
"Then get your fly back out there. That fish is still hungry." I said to Naomi, but she was way ahead of me. Naomi made a few more casts before her indicator shot under again.
"Pull back!" I said, but it was not needed. Naomi's little arms shot skyward, and the tip of her rod danced with a fish!
"A fish! A fish!" She yelled ecstatically. Her trout shimmered with every tug as I unhooked my net and scooped it up to land the fish. Naomi's father beamed with pride after seeing his daughter's face light up. After all, this was the very first fish she had ever caught, and it was on a fly rod.

Naomi gently placed the fish back into the water, and it slipped from her fingers to return home. 
"Nice job!" I said to her, as her fish disappeared into the river. From there, Naomi and her father went back to fishing while I walked up to help Kai.  

After I quickly adjusted his casting, I heard a scream from downstream. 
"I got another one!" The little voice hollered. I looked down and saw that Naomi had on another fish.  Her father was right by her side while I rushed to net her fish.  
"It's a white fish!" I said, with a smile. 
"Is that good?" Naomi asked. 
"It's a new species for you!" I said back. Getting a new species on a fly rod is a big deal, especially for Naomi, whose excitement was captured on camera!

Naomi once again placed her fish back into the water, and watched as it swam away and out of sight.  Further downstream I heard Connie yell out that Preston had a fish on.  I quickly made my way down to him and netted his fish. 
"It's not exactly the biggest fish in the world..." I said, but was cut off.
"That's a nice fish. You be quiet, Erik!" Connie snapped, as I netted Preston's fish. Thankfully, his fish was big enough to stay in my net, but hey, a fish is a fish, and Preston was happy!

In the blink of an eye, Preston's fish was gone, and I made my way back up to Kai. 
"You know..." I said to Kai, quietly. "You are the only one who hasn't caught a fish yet." Kai just looked up at me and shook his head. I stood near him, offering up advice as he fished. His indicator went under, and Kai didn't react fast enough. 
"Ohhhh, that was a fish, Kai." I said, and Kai had seen it too: his indicator had not only shot under, but jerked upstream before coming back to the surface. I could tell that he was getting frustrated at not having caught a fish yet, so we moved a little downstream.  Another cast, and Kai's indicator shot down! THWACK!!! Was the sound that protruded from the indicator after Kai set the hook faster than Bruce Lee!  An orange indicator with a hook attached was the last thing I saw hurling towards my face before I turned away.
"Sorry." Kai said, gathering his fly line.
"It's okay, you did what I would have done." I said back. "The fish is still there. Get it!" I encouraged.  Kai pitched out his line, and his indicator shot down.  This time when he set the hook, there was a fish attached.

Kai was all smiles for his picture.  He had just caught a respectable rainbow trout, and the other students around watched as his fish returned home.

Only a moment before Kai had caught his fish, John sent Brennan, another student, up to me from downstream.  It was already quite the task getting the three of my assigned student into a fish, but I welcomed the added challenge. Brennan had yet to catch a fish, and today was hopefully his day.  The only problem was... my alarm went off, indicating that we only had five minutes before it was time to go. 
"Five minutes everyone!" I called out to the group, then looked at Brennan. "Let's get a fish!"  Brennan didn't waste any time, and we got to a spot on the water that hadn't been fished yet.  As we waded out Brennan fished, and as we waded further out, he went to cast and had a fish on.  But with the sudden surprise of a fish, there was little time to react.  The trout that was hooked flew out of the water, spitting the hook in the process.
"Oh no!" Brennan yelled, knowing he lost his opportunity to bring in a fish.
"Come on, come on... we only have a few minutes." I said, regaining Brennan's focus from the lost fish.  The frustration of losing a fish was still on Brennan's face as he casted and casted with no sign of another. My alarm went off again, and I quickly silenced it.  The group of kids and helpers were now waiting and watching from the bank as we remained out in the river, trying our hardest to catch a fish. Then it happened: Brennan made a beautiful cast, sending his indictor and fly right where it needed to be.
"Positive fish vibes!" I said, raising my hand towards the indicator as it floated downstream. Whether it was his good cast, or the positive fish vibes, Brennan's indicator shot under and he set the hook!
"YOU GOT ONE!" I yelled.  Brennan's face lit up like it was Christmas morning as his rainbow trout flew out of the water! One, two, three jumps from the fish, and all I could think was that it was going to spit the hook.  I quickly brought out my net and Brennan lifted the head of the trout so that I could net it. Cheers erupted from the group as we headed to the bank to take a picture of the biggest trout of the day!

"There it goes, back home to its family" Connie said, before we got out of the river and walked back to meet up with the rest of the class.  Each student in our group was happy to share their fish story with the rest of the class, and every experience was told in full detail as other envious students came close to hear the stories. 
"So, you got them all into a fish." John said, smiling at me over a few students.
"You know what this means, right?" John asked, as he approached. "This means they will expect you to get them all into a fish next week!" John said, while patting me on the shoulder. 
"Well, I would hate to disappoint." I said, smiling back, ending a fun day with the Anser Charter School's seventh grade fly fishing class.