My son burst through the garage door and jumped into his car seat in the truck. “YESSSS, yes we’re going FISHINGgggg…. Daddy, are we going fishing, are we going fishing, are we going to ratlakesnake lakes???.” “HAY neighbor, were going fishing…..” Ten minutes after that he was working as hard as a three year old can work to keep his eyes open in the car. He lost the battle as he mumbled “daddy, I’m just going to close my eye take a little rest until we get to ratlakesnakelake and....” As I looked in the rear view mirror, and saw him fall asleep, I worried that he would wake up tired, crying, grumpy and in a just plain “nothings going to make me happy” three year old mood. It may just be something about me and my family, but 2 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon tends to scream naptime! Yesterday was one of those perfect days where the air was cool the sun was warm and the light soft and comforting. I weighed the option of laying in the sun and watching the Seahawks game or taking my three year old fishing - and turned off the TV. I made the right choice The first time we went out fishing, in August of this year, we spent most of the time wading the shoreline of lake Washington, throwing rocks, and eating blackberries. We had a great time, but we didn’t really fish. The closest we got to fishing was casting a hookless Rapala and pretending it was a fish. This time, none of those amenities would be available. I knew the water would be too cold for any purposeful wading, the blackberries were done, and there would likely be too many fishermen to make throwing rocks a polite or politically correct option. This time we would actually have to fish. When we arrived at the lake I left him sleeping in his car seat. I got out his broken purple and yellow Mickey Mouse rod and taped the tip section of my 15 year old ugly stick spinning rod over the top of it. I strung it up and put a bobber and fly on it. Then I packed all of our ?stuff? my “vishing fest”, “flies”, “fishinpooool”, “fish scissors” (forceps) into my “backbag”. I strapped it all on and then pulled my sleeping son out of the car. As I walked down to the lake holding him in my arms I looked up at the perfect blue sky silhouetting Rattlesnake Ridge. A lone eagle or hawk drifted high above and I could see tiny people standing out on the ridge looking down on everything but the birds. The little trail dipped into the woods and as we emerged onto the lakeshore, my son lifted his head and looked around. “Are we going fishing?” he whispered in my ear. “Yep, we are. We are going fishing right there.” I said pointing at the lake. “There?” he said lifting his head again and looking around. “Anywhere you want. Where do you want to try?” I said as I put him down. “YEAH, YEAH, were going FISHING” he screamed “FISHING, FISHING” he screamed again as he jumped up and down and punched the air like a boxer on a speed bag. “Where did he learn that?” I thought to myself. As he looked around, he saw a boat and float tube in the water. “Why don’t we have a boat, daddy?” Oh no… here it comes – the eltdown. “Because my pontoon boat only fits one person buddy, and it wouldn’t be safe for both of us to ride around in it.” “Can you buy a boat for us so we can both go in it?” Smart kid - “Well, you have to ask you mom about that. I don’t have a problem with that idea, but we don’t have a boat today. Sorry, do you think we can just fish from the shore?” “Yeah, that’s ok, cause we don’t have a boat today, right daddy?” What was this, no crying, no tantrum, he’s in a good mood after a 5 minute nap. I smelled the air to make sure we weren’t standing next to some odd herb smoke drifting our way. Nope, all clear. “Let’s go fishing, huh buddy?” “Yeah, let’s go!!!” as he ran down the lake shore and promptly triped on a rock. “Oucheyyyyyy, aaaaaagh, aaaaagh, daddy, pick me up!!” So I picked him up and started stumbling down the shore. “Can you get down and walk?” “No.” “please?, your to big for me to carry around the lake.” “No!” Great. I walked down to the shore and asked again. “B- can you walk for me, your getting kind of heavy and I have to carry all this other stuff. Besides, you can look in the water if you walk.” “No, I don’t want to walk.” “Well, too bad” I said as I braced for the meltdown. Nothing, he just looked at me and frowned. As I set him down I crossed my fingers and started walking along the shore. “NO DADDY, you forgot me, hold my hand!!!” “Ok, don’t worry, I’m not forgetting you, I just thought we could walk around the lake a little way. Ok?” “Hold my hand please daddy.” Hum, maybe he was just luring me in. Letting me get comfortable before showing me in person what St. Helens looked like on May 18, 1980. Whatever it was I would take if for as long as it lasted. As we walked down the shoreline we passed a dog swimming and a father and his two children pulling old line and lures from the exposed stumps. “Can’t let the birds get tangled in this mess” he said as we passed him by. “Daddy, why is that man picking up string?” “Because it can get wrapped around birds feet and hurt them.” I said. “Oh, should we pick up string? “If you see some you tell me and I will pick it up.” “When you see a spot to fish you tell me ok.” “I don’t know where to fish, you decide.” We walked about half way down the east side of the lake, picked up a couple of yards of old line wrapped around a stump, and chose a spot near two giant hollowed out stumps. As soon as we stopped, a fish rose and sucked down something on the surface. “Daddy, daddy, what was that?” “That was a trout, and were going to catch him.” “Will he bite?” “I hope so.” “Will he bite me???” “What? “Will the trout bite me, daddy?” “What?” I said as I started to unpacke my fly rod and string it up. “Daddy, I don’t want the trout to bite me.” Came a worried little voice at my feet. “Oh, don’t worry, when I say I want them to bite, I mean the end of our line. I want the trout to bite our flies. Don’t worry, the trout will not bite you. Trout are very nice, and there very pretty too. You’ll see.” I put my rod down and help Him make his first cast. The bobber sailed out over the water, out, out, out, splash! A great 20 foot cast. “Nice cast.” “Yes it is. Thank you.” He said. Nice to be confident in your abilities, even at 3. I picked up my Rod and tied on an October Caddis. While I don’t normally think of lakes as good spots for October Caddis, there where a bunch of them flitting around the water, so I thought it worth a try. As I was tightening my knot I felt a tug at my pants. “Hay buddy, what going on?” “Daddy, will you come sit with me on that rock?” “Sure.” I walked over and sat on the rock, and he sat down in my lap. “Are we fishing???” “Yep, we sure are. Do you like it?” “I like the water and the mountain over there he said pointing to Rattlesnake Ridge.” “They are beautiful, aren’t they” “Yes, can I go swimming?” “Do you want to go swimming?” Swimming for him meant wadding in the water and likely getting into a splash war. “Yes.” “Don’t you think the water is too cold?” A blank look replied to my question. “Touch the water, see if it is too cold for you to swim in” “Ooooh, it’s cold daddy.” “Still want to go swimming?’ “Noooooo. Its tooo cold!” “Can I get my rod so I can fish a little too? “No, you sit with me!” He tossed his line out four or five more times, each time reeling it in slowly. Looking at the fly on the end of his line, and casting it back out. Sometimes 20 feet, more often 10 or 12. His face had a calm, half smile on it as he leaned back into my lap and reeled slowly. SPLASH. A large rainbow thrashed the water chasing an October Caddis 5 feet from shore. “See that!” I said “Yeah, yeah, is that a trout daddy? Is that a trout?” “Yes that is a nice trout. Cast out your line and let’s see if he’s interested in playing.” So out the line went again. Splash went the bobber and away went the fish. “Daddy, where did the trout go?” “Well, he swam away, but if you let your fly sit, maybe he will come back. Just let it sit and watch your bobber. If it bounces on the water or goes under the water, you lift up on your rod and start reeling. Ok?” “Ok” “I’m going to get my rod so we can have two lines out. Ok?’ “Are you going to come back and sit with me?” “Do you want me to?” “Yes.” I grabbed my rod and made a 35 foot cast to where I had seen another rise. “Are you fly fishing?’ “Yes I am” “Why am I not fly fishing” “Well you’re a little young, and this rod is a bit big for you to cast.” “Oh…” “Daddy, I need help.” I turned around and saw a rats nests at the end of the little fishing pole. Ugh, not a rat’s nest. I knew this would happen. “Hold on.” I leaned my rod against the stump and took the three steps over to start untangling the mess. Over, under … under around, over, over …. Back around over, and “*&^*%” I thought. “Daddy, why is your rod moving?” “What?” “Why is your rod moving?” I looked over and sure enough, my rod tip was bouncing against the stump where it was leaning. “Grab it, quick!!” He reached out and picked up the rod. “It’s pulling daddy!” “Bring it here!” “here daddy!” “No, you hold on to it here and reel, see this here, turn it. Good, good. Try and reel, Keep the rod up, no I mean point the end of it up to the sky. No, point the other end up. Good. Try and keep it up, can you reel, do you want help? “I can do it, I can do it” came the reply. Splash, the fish did a quick tail walk across the water the line lay still. It was a great effort for a first try, but the fish had gotten away. I was sure this was it, the rumble, the smoke, the tears…. “AGAIN, Lets do it AGAIN!!!!” …. huh “Ok, do you want to use your rod or do you want to use daddy’s” “Use your rod” So I knelt and took my son’s hand, wrapped it around the cork, placed my hand over it, made three false casts and settled the fly 30 feet out with a splat. And we sat, and sat, and sat, for nearly a whole minute. “Daddy, can we cast again?” “Sure.” And the line arched back and forward, back and forward . . . giggle, giggle, splat. “That’s fun daddy, like playing catch.” This was amazing, I couldn’t have scripted it any –SPLASH- a 13 inch trout slashed at the October Caddis and before I could react my three year old son and jumped up and, unwittingly, set the hook. “LOOOOK a TROUT!” “Reel.” Laughter exploded out of my son, “eeek, eek, hahahahahaha, eek.” “REEL!!!” “EEEEEEE, HOHOHOH, shreeeek.” “Lift up, keep the line tight, try to reel, reel, lift up!!!!” “Daddy!” pant pant pant, “Daddy, help me reel, I can’t let go” He couldn’t hold the rod tip up with one hand and reel so I put my arms around him an stripped line for him. “Scoop em daddy, scoop em!” A minute later a glistening 13 inch rainbow trout lay in my net. “Hay, Hay LOOK” screamed my son to anyone within shouting distance. “LOOK EVERYONE, We just caught a TROUT, a SILVER and PINK one.” He jumped and stumbled on the rocks “LOOK everyone it’s a BEAUTIFUL TROUT!!!!” We ended the day with 4 shared fished to hand, two other fish for daddy, 4 fish lost for daddy, a thorough exploration of two hollow stumps, and three solo hookups and lost fish on Mickey Mouse. As we drove home, the sunset lit up the sky in blues, reds, and pinks. “Look at the sunset buddy, it’s very beautiful don’t you think.“ “Yes, it looks like the fish.” And it did.