May 21, 2014

Teaching at Rouge Creek in the Spring


The family and I went to Rouge Creek a couple weeks ago to farm some wild rainbows out of the inlet side of this small reservoir. Connor and Caleb have been enjoying their $10 Tenkara rods I purchased from Amazon a couple months ago. These knock-off Tenkara rods have been a perfect match for these boys. They don't have a reel or line going in and out of guides to deal with, so they can just concentrate on their cast. And with a $5 price tag and about $5 of cork-work, these are some scrappy rods for these little boys. The difficult part has been trying to find the right line/leader combination.
Connor landed 10+ feisty rainbows and hooked about twice that may and long-line released them. Connor has the bug and really enjoys fishing. I can't believe a 6 year old is sticking so many fish all on his own!
Caleb nonchalantly stated "I hooked one" on one of his first casts. I don't know if it's because his mother converted from gear to fly while he was in her womb or that's just a coincidence, but Caleb is just naturally fishy.
Teaching Boy Scouts at Rouge Creek
Sam and I went to Rouge Creek last spring with the goal of catching a Cabela's tagged fish. About an hour into our venture, three young men donning waders and fly rods walked past and started fishing a few yards down the bank from us. A couple minutes later their scout leader walked up and stated "If they get in your way, just let me know and I'll get them out of your hair". Come to find out they were working on their fly fishing merit badge and their leader wasn't much help to them. He even made the statement "I'm not going to teach them" as if it was too much trouble. 

A few more boys walked up, but they weren't wearing waders or holding rods. They watched as their wader-wearing troop members tried unsuccessfully to catch fish. I offered to let one of them fish with my rod and immediately put him on a fish, then another, then another. I asked that we give the next guy a try and he reluctantly passed the rod on. I asked the other scouts with rods if they wanted me to help set them up to catch fish. Most of them immediately took me up on my offer and the prideful ones soon conceded. Sam jumped in and we both set their rods up while teaching them about knots, leader length, fly selection, strike detection, and casting.

The scout leader left with his tail between his legs to go cook hot dogs and another scout leader replaced him. For the next few hours, the scouts caught fish after fish; many times doubling and tripling up. The 2nd leader kept thanking us for teaching these boys. Watching them smile from ear to ear as they caught fish was thanks enough.
 I learned to fly fish and tie flies as a Boy Scout when I was 12. My scout leader was a Biology teacher, fisherman, and butterfly collector extraordinaire. Learning to fly fish at an early age kept me off the streets and out of gangs. So I owe great gratitude to the stellar folks I've come across while learning to fly fish who readily shared their knowledge and flies; I was happy to pay it forward.
I challenge all of you to take someone under your wing the next opportunity you have. I guarantee you will have more fun watching them catch fish then doing it yourself. It's kind of a less sick and twisted version of "Being John Malkovich" where you have to catch the fish through someone else's body. It's a whole new challenge and a win win for both parties.


  1. That is a great story! My own thanks to you for helping grow the next gen into things that are important! M

  2. Awesome stuff. Your kids are way better than me at fly fishing.

  3. Thanks for your kind words Mike & Dan. I don't know why I fiid the "progression of a fly fisherman" so clich, but it rings very true. I've gone past the strages of "just catching a fish on the fly" and "catching as many fish on the fly as I can". I'm now in a mixed stage of "the biggest, new species, new locations, and giving back". Fishing is a great vice!

  4. I dig your blog Mike. You have a certain style to your writing and it keeps me coming back for more. Keep it up!