I just spent the last week searching my soul while spending time with my father and family in Sioux City, Iowa. Last week my grandmother passed away. Now I know this has nothing to do with steelhead, but as we get older we lose the people that mean a lot to us. Since graduating from college I have had the unfortunate experience of losing two of my grandparents as well as my mother. The winter my mother passed away was the first time I really tried to swing flies for steelhead. Living in Portland, I spent many days on the Necanicum and Nehalem looking for something other than steelhead. I spent countless hours on my days off swinging flies, but really thinking and reflecting what my mother did for me. I still credit what I learned from my time on the river as part of my recovery.
One of Grandma Dee's Fishing Licenses.
Part of my childhood was spent in the Midwest. My first fishing experiences was with my father and grandmother. The game dealt more often with minnows and night crawlers for warmwater species, but as we well know these first experiences influence our learning. I have many pleasant memories fishing with the family including my brother who later taught me how to fly fish. Those long days fishing with my grandmother are dear to me. Those long days sitting with her, smoking her non-filtered cigarettes stick in my memory. I will never forget her and how she encouraged me to get out.
Uncle Elwood, Aunt Annie and my Father in Minnesota
My father always encouraged me to get out as well. Growing up he hunted and fished frequently. I remember all of the stories he told me over the years about Northern and Walleyed Pike. He used to fish with his Uncle Elwood and Aunt Annie in Minnesota every year. The story of the huge Pike he caught by accident in Minnesota and the whole Perch he found in its belly, the dogfish he would her barking at night and how Walleyed Pike were the best eating fish in the world. As a father myself now, I see how important it is to share my memories that I have with my daughter. The stories my father told me I can share with her as well as the other adventures I have had with my father and friends. With luck she will have stories to pass on. You never know, she might tell her children stories about the rare steelhead and how her father actually used to catch them.
My Father and I in Alaska
My father found this in between a photo album and an old scrapbook. I was shocked to see a fly rod and steelhead. Well I guess it could be a small salmon, but shocked regardless because they did not use fly rods in this part of the Midwest.
13 hours ago