Fishing with Uncle Gary
I had been waiting for today for a few months, it was the day Kyle and I took my Uncle Gary and cousins Greg and Grant fishing on the South Platte. They are out here visiting from Kansas, the cousins taking my Uncle on a trip for his birthday. They stayed in a nice cabin right on the river, and it was a beautiful day for the most part, although we did get some bad thunderstorms and lightning towards the end of the day, but that was OK.
My Uncle Gary is the next sibling to my mom, now the oldest of the remaining two brothers and two sisters, and I was very close to him growing up. Greg and Grant are the youngest of Uncle Gary’s four kids, and I didn’t get to know them very well since they are 16 and 17 years younger than me, I was off to college and then the Air Force while they were still babies. They are grown men now though, and both very successful in the auto repair/rebuilding business, and big time outdoorsmen, although this was their first time fly fishing.
We got to the cabin at 8:30, and right after we said our hellos, Uncle Gary said he had something for me and went into the cabin. He came back and said “Donna gave me your Mom’s tackle box after she died, and this was in it, I thought you might want it.” He handed me an envelope full of letters that I had written to my mom. I looked at the return address on the envelope, and it was my address in November of 1983. Letters I wrote to my Mom 30 years ago. I haven’t read them yet, but boy did that stir some emotions in me. I guess it was at that instant that I realized how much Uncle Gary resembles my mom, their physical characteristics are very similar.
I got the wader bag out of my truck and got them setup with waders, and then I took the rods out of my redneck rod holder, which did great today I must say. We were in the river in 15 minutes, and I gave a brief fly fishing lesson before Kyle took my Uncle Gary upstream a little ways, and I stayed with Greg and Grant to help them get started.
It was a beautiful morning, sunny and warming up quickly, but the water was still very cold. Greg and Grant were getting the hang of casting pretty well, and I have to say that of all the people I have ever taught how to fly fish, my two cousins were the lowest maintenance students I have ever taught. No one lost a single fly the entire day, and only one bad tangle happened towards the end of the day, it was an easy day for being a guide. The only problem was the fish were not cooperating. On the few that were hitting the flies, everyone was having a hard time detecting the soft take of the fish in early spring, so no one was catching anything, but they were all having a great time, and so was I.
We worked our way upstream for about a half mile, and since I wasn’t fishing it gave me the chance to spend a lot of time talking with each cousin and my uncle while giving them instruction. I felt bad that no one was catching any fish, so I used my seine to see what types of bugs were flowing in the water, and there were none, the water was just too cold. And I also felt bad that the hip boots I brought that Grant was wearing had a leak in one of them, and his left wader had three inches of frigid water in it. What a horrible guide I am!
We quit fishing and headed back to the cabin for lunch at about 11:45. We had sandwiches out on the back deck of the cabin overlooking the river with a gorgeous view of the mountains and Pike National Forest all around us. We talked about the morning of fishing, about family members back in Kansas, and about how our lives are going presently. It was just a comfortable feeling to sit and talk with my family like that and get to know these relatives again. Moving away from my family is the one regret I have in my life.
I won’t drag this story out to its end, but suffice it to say that today was a great day. Although the fishing was terrible, we all had a great time. After a storm came in and Uncle Gary decided to head back to the cabin, the rest of us fished down the river, and I committed the ultimate guide sin, I caught the only fish of the day, when I wasn’t even fishing. We were fishing a slow flowing part of the river, and I had Uncle Gary’s rod and decided to cast a few times. Sure enough, I caught a fish. OK, so I’m a terrible guide.
We got off of the river just in time before a massive thunder storm blew in; dropping ice-rain pellets the size of quarters, lightning flashing in the sky and booming thunder resounding through the valley. Kyle and I packed up the fishing gear, gave our good-bye hugs to my Uncle and cousins, and then headed home in the storm.