By: Harry Whited
Papa and I had not been fishing for very long when the fly rod I was holding suddenly took a C shape. White foam erupted from the surface of the small pond and the splashes from the fish mixed with the falling rain on the water causing an enormous ripple to splash waves onto the shore of the pond. The fish was brown and grey and his ugly mouth came up first attached to the small hook that mimicked a piece of catfish food.
I still can’t get over how ugly these things are, I thought as my Uncle Joe netted the large channel catfish from the reeds. I looked up and saw Papa grinning his custom grin.
After a stressful week of classes, I arrived at Uncle Joe’s farm in Weatherby Missouri. It was there I was going to see my Uncle Joe and my grandpa (Papa) for a weekend of relaxing, fishing, eating, and figuring out life’s problems.
We decided with the weather at the time that the fishing would be better in the middle of the day. Uncle Joe’s farm offered a variety of activities but one of the most exciting ones was fishing from the pond in his backyard.
The pond was small but it was home to a clump of reeds and weeds that stretched out of the banks into the water which offered prime fishing spots. On the far side of the pond was a standing windmill and it was around that windmill we caught several smallmouths and blue gill using normal spinning baits.
Coming from Alaska I was unfamiliar with the Midwest fishing styles and I was shocked to learn that fly fishing could be just as effective in a lake or a pond as it would be in a river.
When it comes down to it, fishing is fishing and if you’re fly fishing all you have to do is present something that looks good to the fish and get it in front of them then strip in the line for the fly to behave in the way you want it to. Very simple.
Since the weather was cold there was little action but with consistent casts and a lot of different presentations, the fish could not resist themselves.
First came the aforementioned “big cat.” He was released and we capped off the day with him because we felt that was a good one to end on. Papa and I went back to the house where Joe prepared a beautiful roast. A perfect end to a cold day with big fish.
The next day was about the same but more rain and it was Papa’s turn for a big cat. Together, he and I fished the Kenai and the Russian Rivers and now we stood on a calm pond in Missouri. It was more calm and he and I did not need to catch the biggest fish to have a great day. He and I had caught plenty between the two of us and the rest were extra at this point. We were just glad we got to do it together.
I took the rod for a second and suddenly the line shot to the middle of the pond and I set the hook hard. The murky yellow flashes came out of the muddy water and soon the bass was ashore. My first bass at that, caught on the fly in Missouri. It was after that that Papa and I felt we did all the damage we could in this pond. We retreated inside again for more food and stories.
I hope that as my time in the Midwest becomes more permanent I can take what I know now and put it to use. I look forward to the future adventures I will have, using the skills I am acquiring every day.