- By: Joe Healy
For more than a year now, we’ve published articles in our Short Casts section with the header “Giving Back.” These have included profiles on such organizations as Family Tyes, Casting for Recovery and Project Healing Waters, groups introducing the values of fly-fishing to broad-based audiences. In this issue, we hear from Kathy Scott on how she began a successful in-school fly-fishing program in Maine. Giving back…the phrase reminds me of a note I received recently from Greg Thomas, our managing editor, about fishing with his daughters.
“I was only a half-hour into a float down Montana’s Madison River when I turned to Tate and said, ‘You two are terrible.’ Tate is my six-year old daughter and her sister, Myka, who was peeking through fingers and making angry hornet sounds, is three. Moments prior, I’d taken Myka to the bank for the second time and now Tate was saying, ‘Uh, dad, I’ve got to go, too.’ A boat and two anglers passed, headed straight downstream to my favorite hole where, surely, they would rail some big rainbows and browns. All I’d landed was one oversize whitefish and about 46 daughterly demands. That’s when I issued the ‘terrible’ comment, an Ahabish attempt to regain some sort of acceptable behavior on deck. But all I got were giggles and a tongue sticking out between Myka’s fingers. I took a few deep breaths and thought, Those guys got the prime water and they were laughing at me as they passed, but I’ve got my girls on the Madison and they don’t. That’s when I spotted a bald eagle overhead and quickly pointed it out to Tate. I won’t tell you that fishing with my kids is always easy, but in some ways I’m paying back a debt to my family, who introduced me to the outdoors and all the strong lessons, personal responsibility, self-respect and direction that a life outside offers. If that’s what the girls gain and I raise two people who are on the water, or at least outdoors, rather than parked on a couch in front of a TV, I’ll have done my job.
“Which, don’t get me wrong, is typically a blast. In fact, after handing the girls bubble containers, plus a few Gummi Bears, things got a lot better. As the girls blew orbs into the air, I leapfrogged that other boat and found a hole that was stacked with trout. Tate and Myka each caught 16-inchers and I got a brown that went 20. Later in the day, as the anglers passed, Tate pointed a finger in the air, slapped her other hand on her hip and sang, ‘We caught more fish, we caught more fish than you,’ and little sis, Myka, chimed right in beside her. As they say, we’re all works in progress.”