For me, the season opener actually begins the day before on the banks of the very river that will be fished the following day. A fabulous steak dinner is enjoyed by a fine group of friends and the evening is spent swapping lies around a campfire until one by one we slip off to the warmth of our sleeping bags. The day starts just before first light with the smell of wood smoke and fresh coffe being brewed by the first man up. Soon the smells of breakfast being cooked begin to mix with the wood smoke and that is usually enough to wake those that stayed up a little too late the night before. After breakfast, a few anglers will rush into waders, gather their gear and wait in the frigid water for the eight o'clock bell of the season opener. Most of us continue to linger by the fire until the sun begins to poke over the hills and shares its warmth with us. Then one by one we'll gear up, find a good looking piece of water and make the first "official" cast of the season. Which, on most years, has been preceded by several thousand casts by those of us who fish all winter long, except for those three long weeks in March and early April when trout season closes on most waters.
Opening day was a little different for me this year. This year I had company. This was the year I introduced my 9 year old son, William, to my opening day traditions. William has been fishing with a fly rod for a number of years now, but mainly on local lakes and ponds for panfish and the occasional bass. Last summer I introduced him to wet wading in moving water and once I was confident he understood the basics of safely negotiating rapids and could handle a dunking in moving water, we took a few short trips in preparation for Opening Day. Armed with a new fly rod and a pair of Dan Bailey waders and Simms wading boots that were given to us by a generous friend whose children had out grown them, he was ready to hit the water
I was thrilled that he was able to make the cast, detect the strike and play his first fish to hand without any assistance from Dad and he did it over and over again. I stood by his side to coach him, but it became obvious after a while that I was just getting in the way so I sat and watched.
Eventually he asked why I wasn't fishing and then offered to be my gillie if I wanted to fish for a while. So I did, it was nice to have someone to net my fish for me.
After a few hours he wanted to put down the rod and kick back and relax so I slipped off and managed to tease a few more fish into the net before breaking camp and heading for home.
I'm sure the day created memories that will last a lifetime for the both of us. Especially that big one that got away! He'll have stories of his own for next year's campfire!
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