I am a husband and a father, the man of the family. Everything we do or fail to do is my responsibility. Don’t think for a moment that I’m minimizing my wife’s importance. She means every bit as much (probably more) to the family as I do, but for the really, really important things, like family trout–fishing adventures, I reign supreme.
I find it embarrassing to admit that I’m not a successful trout fisherman. Trout are the grand and majestic trophies of freshwater fishing and are most often considered the pinnacle of woodsmanship. Yet somehow, for some reason known only to the omnipotent and omnipresent Architect of the universe, the ability to catch these tasty little fish has eluded me.
On a recent adventure to the mountains, I led my loving wife and eager children to Summit Lake in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, in an effort to redeem myself as a trout–fisherman. We prepared well in advance, purchasing the appropriate licenses, discussing tips and advice with my best friend, getting rods and reels in top condition, and of course, packing plenty of snacks for the children and for the woodsman alike.
When we arrived at the lake, my dad and step–mom were already seated in folding chairs with lines in the water. As my family and I walked along the dam toward them, I mustered the most friendly voice available to me in the morning hours. “You guys having any luck?”
“Not at all. Not even a bite. The people over there said they’ve been here all morning and haven’t caught a thing.”
Just outside of Richwood, West Virginia, Summit Lake is an especially beautiful, 43–acre reservoir, hidden away in the mountains of the Monongahela National Forest. Not only is it an exceptional bass–fishing lake, Summit Lake is THE place to go for trout. I couldn’t conceive of so little success. Even so, my confidence didn’t wane. As a devout mountaineer, I knew that my family and I would leave with the legal limit of trout for each of us.
I quickly readied each child’s tackle – trout–appropriate hooks, yellow Power Bait, and a small sinker. I then sent them on their way. “You can fish anywhere that I can see you. But I think you’re best chances are near the spillway.” As much as I enjoy their company, I believe children should learn to spend time with themselves, especially when presented with scenery that forces their rapidly developing minds to reflect upon their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
As cast followed cast followed cast, each child looked to me, their supposed all–knowing father, for support and advice. What could I say? My creel was far from full. Based purely on the day’s success, their fishing abilities were comparable to mine.
At that moment, I could have grown impatient. I could have lost my calm, grown aggravated with my children, become frustrated with the fishing trip. I could have given up and went back to the cabin, watched television for the remainder of the day, and spoiled the opportunity to enjoy nature and to bond with my family.
In a surprising burst of wisdom, I muttered to my youngest daughter, “That cloud looks just like a seahorse.” My daughter immediately saw the seahorse and began looking for other shapes and figures in the collections of moisture looming overhead. From that moment forward, I continued to fish but put the better part of my efforts towards building relationships and watching the skies. Contrasted against the deep blue sky, the white and gray cumulus clouds provided hours of favorable fishing conditions for me and my family.
My oldest daughter fished hard. Even as the rest of the family congregated in mountainous fellowship, she never wavered. To her dismay, her younger sister, whose fishing takes a much more aloof approach, caught the only rainbow trout of the day.
Even though a party of seven only averaged 0.14 per fish per person, the outing was still a success. My wife had the opportunity to walk around the lake, overcoming her “Bearanoia.” My dad and step–mom enjoyed time with their grandchildren. My oldest daughter learned patience and perseverance. My youngest daughter was the hero of the trip with her one trout. My son played on the rocks, went on his first fishing trip, and enjoyed time with his dad and grandpa.
And as for me, I found joy staring at the clouds, being a husband, being a father, and leading my family on a successful trout–fishing adventure.