bell choices 1

Guest Blogger: Allen Bell, republished from the Aguabonita Fly Fishers and Southern Sierra Fly Fishers club newsletters.

Expert Fly Tyers Passing Along Their Skills
Expert Fly Tyers Passing Along Their Skills

Young Trey had a choice to make. Would he rather have warm dry feet or does he want to catch a fish? What a dilemma this turned out to be. We were at the Southern Sierra Fly Fishers Club Kids Academy. I had just spent the day teaching young fly fishers how to tie flies. (Might be a good idea for me to learn how to do it properly myself before next year, but that’s another story.) I really enjoy doing the Kids Academy. I enjoy seeing my friends, I always like to give back to the sport in some small way. Mainly though, I like being around the kids. They have an exuberance about them that rubs off on me. That is the main reason I choose to participate in this event every year.

As we live our lives, we are faced with choices every day. Some are the normal everyday things, such as ham or bacon for breakfast. Some are moral choices. Should I really be coveting my neighbor’s fly rod…’s a Winston after all. Sometimes we have very serious choices. But this is fishing. We don’t have to make them here. I don’t like those type of questions anyway. The ones I like better are the ones like, “That is a sweet looking slick over there. I wonder if I can wade though this water column to get there without drowning.” Or, “Maybe I should book my room for another night. Wonder how many days it will take my wife to talk to me again?”

We always have to weigh the cost of our choices. A great day of fishing loses its luster if others are hurt by our actions. Once I saw a fisher crowd into a spot right in front of another. He caught a really nice fish and let us all know about it. The guy he cut in front of was new to the sport and having a difficult time. He would certainly have gotten to catch that beautiful fish except for the choice made by another. I choose to go and make friends with the intruder. My tongue still bears the tooth marks, but in the end, everyone walked away happy. The beginner ended up catching a nice fish later and the rude guy admitted being a jerk with laughter. We all ended up friends – for a day anyway. I think he will be more careful in the future; sometimes we just get excited and don’t realize what we are doing.

Back to the Fly Fishers Kids Academy. This is a long day. I’m always amazed at how tired I am after sitting and coaching children how to tie. I wish I had the patience and teaching ability of my good friends Rob and Mark. They have the little ones tying these beautiful flies. Maybe I can get them to teach me to do that.

Anyway, back in camp, all the kids were off chasing lizards, finding rocks and the bugs that live under them, the older ones attached to their phones, the instructors finally able to crack open a cold one and enjoy a little relaxing time. I was just melting into my wonderful Winston chair when my friend’s daughter, Grace, and another young face I seemed to remember from earlier in the day are standing in front of me, fly rod in hand. “Trey wants to know when you are going to take him fishing?” I had a choice to make. I really wanted to just sit there and soak in the moment. I just looked him in the eye and said, “Well, I guess I’d better string up a rod.” So off we went.

bell choices 3Happily, we were camped right on the river. As we got to the water, Trey informs me that we can’t fish here. There are too many trees to cast his new fly rod. Hey, trees are no problem, just get into the water and wade out far enough to clear the brush. That turned out to be a problem for this young fly fisher. What’s the problem? It seems that the water is cold. “I don’t like it when my feet are cold”. Well Trey, these are trout we are fishing for. They live in cold water. You have to make a choice. Do you want to fish, or do you want to have warm, dry feet? Trey compromises. He took off his shoes and waded right along the bank. He wouldn’t come out far enough to cast, but he had a blast telling me where to cast while he found a plentiful bounty of beautiful rocks. So on we went and all would have been well, except I finally hooked the only fish of the day. Trey was so excited, “Bring it here so I can catch it!!!” Not so fast my young friend. You now have to choose, do you want dry feet, or do you want to catch a fish? I can’t bring the rod to you. You have to come to the rod. Trey thought about it for a few seconds and chose to catch a fish, which he did in grand form.

bell choices 2I still feel bad about the nosedive he made into the water but he’s ok. You know, I think Trey is going to be quite a fisher. I’m proud of the decision he made. It certainly won’t be the last time he goes home wet and cold. The best part of every fishing adventure is the story. This one is complete with a picture of the missing fish. The first ’big one that got away’ story. I also got what I had been after. The smile of a child experiencing the thrill. The thrill I feel every trip….Blue Skies and Fishy Flies!

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