Fishing With Dad
by Steven Maslar
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
March 2014 Issue
Skilak Lake Alaska
James Reid's Shop
half loaded backpacks he was trying to hoist into the tree nearly hoisted him into the tree.
This episode occurred as my dad, brother-in-law, uncle, and I were setting up camp halfway through a 14+ mile trek through the
backcountry along Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Times were tough in those days – the park had not
placed bear-proof backpack storage cable systems at each backcountry campsite yet. You had to lift your backpacks into the
tree however you could.
This was just one of the countless, and often crazy, fishing trips
I've been on with my Dad through the years. As I was coming of
age as a teenager, he was in the twilight years of his career with
IBM. This meant he had tons of vacation time, and so did I. And
spend the time wisely we did. Typically, we would fish one
Saturday a month. In addition to the monthly trips, we would
also take either a camping trip or a backpacking trip during
spring break, one to start the summer season and one at the
end the summer, as well as one at the fall break from school.
Fortunately, by that time in her life, Mom was thrilled to have us
out of the house so she was OK with it all. I didn't think about it
at the time, but I was actually learning life's lessons as we talked
en route to the stream or while fishing, rather than spending my
time getting into trouble like many teenagers.
One of the things we learned was that you didn't have to know what you were doing to get started fishing. I fell in love with fishing
when he took me on our first rain-laden, tent collapsing, camping/fishing trip at age 12. The next year, I started fly fishing for trout
with 5'-6” Berkely Lightning Rod bass rod, el cheapo fly line and $20 fly reel from Big Box Store. We didn't have a clue where to
even start, but we learned quickly as we tried different destinations. We found that small streams are great to get started on – the
fish have far fewer places to hide, and your casts don't have to be that long.
And, we caught fish – just a few to begin with, and then over the years eventually a bad day was single digits. I must say,
however, that I much prefer my nice fly rod and lightweight reel to the Lightning Rod and boat anchor I started with, and
(shameless plug here) Perfect Fly Brand flies are a huge advancement over the feathers I tied on a hook as I was learning to tie
We found that there are some advantages to not knowing what you are doing when you get started. For example, I didn't know
what a roll cast was, so I carefully grabbed the bend of the fly hook between by thumb and index finger, stretched the rod and a
short length of line like a bow and arrow, and shot the fly into otherwise impossible to reach areas. Not very elegant, but very
effective in reaching tight areas on small streams.
Copyright 2014 Steven Maslar
elp!" Dad cried. “Wrap it around the tree.” My brother-in-law suggested. “Help!” Dad replied, this time a little more
Bow and Arrow Casting in Tight Spaces
Then, my dad, who was more likely to use a spinning rod, decided to get all historically accurate on me and started fly fishing
with a 13 foot cane pole like Horace Kephart himself had done in times past. He would sneak (well, his version of sneaking
anyway, which could also be called rolling) up to a pool and dangle the fly just above the water, sometimes in a figure 8 or
touching it for an instant to the surface of the water. The trout beneath would eventually work up his courage and jump out of
the water, trying to catch the fly. Later, I found out just how lifelike that technique was as I observed a trout trying to catch a
The Base of Upper Falls on Big Sandy
Creek Stone Mountain State Park, NC
Grandpa and Grandson Fishing on Upper Creek
Father and Son Fishing at Stone Mountain State Park, NC
Some things I learned on fishing trips with my dad and children:
Keep your fly rod away from open car doors and the trunk's hinges and latch.
Keep your fly rod horizontal when stringing the line through the eyes, unless you like starting over.
Woodchuck holes can crack your ribs.
Salmon basically stop eating when they enter fresh water. All those pictures you see of thousands of salmon running
upstream don't show you how difficult it is to get them to bite.
Mountain laurel is nature's way of protecting otherwise vulnerable trout.
Always hold the rod tip when you're helping a child (or Dad) with his fly or lure.
It's always great to go fishing with another person; otherwise, who's going to pull your waders off at the end of the day?
Backpacking and hiking are great ways to find eager trout, and enjoy the fishing all to yourself.
Keep kids out of eyesight of one another, if possible, while they are fishing.
Fishing is a lot better than watching TV.
Prepare for rain. Lots of it.
The greatest gift a Dad can give is his time.
A trail that follows a stream does not always go downhill even though the stream does.
Dad's waders are whichever pair is in the best condition.
Dad's backpack is whichever one is lighter.
A bad day fishing is truly better than a good day at work.
Bring an ample supply of toilet paper when you go fishing.
Keep your toilet paper in a water proof bag.
If you see a bear, you don't have to outrun it. You simply have to outrun your dad.
Wrap it around the tree.