For me, fishing has always been in my life. As a kid we used to fish regularly. In many ways because it was a relatively cheap thing to go do. But as a kid you don’t have any awareness of what activities cost, you just want to do them. For one reason or another, I enjoyed it.

I am not sure I remember the first fish I caught as a kid, but I am sure it was a blue gill. I do have vague memories of catching them off the patio/dock at my local park’s small reservoir. To even call it a reservoir is generous, as that would deem the body of water to have some girth to it. But this was just a small Colorado front range man-made lake.

Blue gills are dumb, and so are young boys, but I guess I narrowly out IQ’d ‘em, because we mopped them up. Out there with my little spin rod, dad by my side, fishing with old chicken fingers or something, watching 5 inch blue gills stack up like koi fish. Funny the things you remember.

As I became more proficient, we started fishing for bigger “game” at bigger fishing lakes on the front range. If we had a few hours to go out before sunset, we would be out there fishing for some small bass. Not totally uncommon, was catching catfish, and one of my favorite memories as a kid was taking one of those home with my dad to eat. It ended as anything other than dinner. Maybe one day I will bust out that story.

My first deep sea fishing experience was off the coast of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I don’t have a weak stomach, but choppy water can get me. Our ride out was catching a bunch of swells, and I had to sleep through it just to make it to the spot. I thought is was going to be a long day, but when we got out there, things subsided and it was a glorious day. We pulled in heaps of Mahi Mahi and one Yellow Fin Tuna. watching them fillet them at the dock was still other worldly to me as a pubescent boy. We had to give up half the meat, as our house of 16 couldn’t eat it all before flying home at the end of the week. Probably never had a better day personally on a boat.

Ice fishing was an experience, I still want to turn into a GFW one day. I remember being fascinated with the fact that you could do a favorite warmer weather hobby in the dead of winter. Using an auger to drill through the ice and set up a tent for warmth. Really pretty boring fishing, but the idea of shooting the shit all day waiting for the slowest bend of the rod tip sounds appealing.

Fly fishing didn’t find me until my early teens. Something that I was rightfully protected from based on my ability to break the cheaper spin rigs. Not saying that you shouldn’t give a kid a $1,000 outfit and get them on the water, but I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t come to understand the art of fishing, I was merely a baby barbarian with a crude club. Even after using my first fly rod, it still took time to learn to cast, a skill I still pursue to get better at today, and understand what I was even trying to do, seeing as now I was working on the moving water of a river… you want me to drift this little tuft of fuzz in that, by methodically false whatting? How about I just tangle the shit out of this leader instead. Here you go.

My first fly fishing catch was standing at the top of a large damn and letting line down to the bottom. Effectively spin fishing with purely a gravity cast. I pulled out an 8 inch whopper, and dragged it to its death through the dirt of a riverside trail. Probably my most proud angling moment at the time, but my least proud angling moment looking back. Absolutely no respect for what I was doing. See: Baby Barbarian with Crude Club above.

But all of these moments had one thing in common. They were with people I cared about. Mostly my father, occasionally my grandparents, and sometimes friends. I look back fondly at what I didn’t realize at the time that I do now. Those moments are special.

Moments happen today with my daughter that no doubt she takes for granted. “Sing it again” or “One more push.” These moments are small, much like the little blue gills I caught as a kid. Dime a dozen some may say. But I know now why my dad regularly says “remember that time we caught loads of blue gill over the railing of the reservoir?”

Those moments matter.

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