Friday, September 13, 2013

Fishing with Kids

Summer time!
Story by Jon Tapper

It was early-August and the steelhead numbers had just gone richter at Bonneville, but like a giant wave of biomass that pushes and crests up the Columbia every year, their time would come.  The fleeting summer days of childhood have to be step away from work, disconnect the devices, and share with your kids the kind of Mom and Dad time that makes those "lifetime" memories they can tell their kids about.

So how about some black rockfish on the fly?

The camper was packed.  Batteries charged.  Time for the annual family trip to coastal Oregon, even brought the cat.  …can't tell ya where, exactly, but you know how that goes.

First order of business, unadulterated beach time, then there was a bit of pulling pots for crab.  Can't say enough about the delicious spiders of the sea...and while not the 25 crab haul we got last year, the 6 keepers provided just as much fun.  Busting around the bay on the boat, haulin' traps, drinking kid pops and Dad pops while munchin' fritos and corn nuts in the that's some livin' right there.

After a few days more of whale watching from our campsite and beachcombing, it was time to crown it all off with a new  family tradition.

Our friend Jack has been pushing the envelope on fly fishing the coast via dory, and if it wasn't for Jay Nicholas' blog posts, I wouldn't have even known it existed.  While the charters for tuna run up and down the coast, we wanted something a bit more intimate and accessible to do with the kids.  With the swell up in the early part of the week, our friend Jack suggested we head up on Friday to take a look and give it a shot.

Early wake-ups during vacation aren't the usual state of affairs, but at the same time, they do let you know that you're gonna be getting after it.  Travelling up the coast with my son Forest, my friend Jeff, and his son Axel, the heavy drizzle of an Oregon coastal morning had us feeling tentative about the weather.  Jack met us in the parking lot and wasted no time in having us jump in his truck, to drive down to the beach.

Forest almost had the rod pulled out of his hands a few times.  
 In his marine sea pants and jacket, he's like the grandpa we all wish we had...patient and relaxed and simply happy to be connecting with the ocean life at his door with the fly.  15 minutes and we were in his zone.  He said that the fishing has been good this year.  The sonar agreed.


9 foot  7- and 8- weight rods with lead core shooting heads are handed out, and we drifted over the school.  Tension cast it back, let it sink, and strip it back in 3-4 inch pulls.  My son connects on his first cast. Then Jeff connects, then I do.  It's a triple hook-up and we've only been out 5 minutes.  It's gonna be that kind of day...In fact, things were so hot, drifting over huge feeding schools, that we limited out by noon.  The captain let Axel try his hand at piloting the dory, and I don't think you could have wiped the smile off his face for the rest of the day.  After cleaning and packing our ocean bounty, we all headed out to a little family style lunch before driving back south to camp.

Back at camp, filet's were grilled, fish tacos, smores constructed, and laughter abounds. A great ending to the summer.