With the addition of my first and only nephew recently, my mind has been on family and my role as a new uncle. I've done a lot of reflecting on my own life and who's had the most impact on it to try and figure out how I should act. So this week I've decided to skip the technical talk and instead share a little about myself and the one man that kept coming up, my Grandpa.
My family has always been outdoorsy and that pivoted around one man, my grandfather. A WW2 vet who had a need more than a want to explore and be outside. I can honestly say he had more of an impact on my life than any other person. Countless weekends we'd be off and running on some old gravel road looking for a heard about lake that promised willing rainbows. Old pickup trucks loaded down with handbuilt campers, screaming children and old tin boats. There was always a glint of excitement in his eyes once the campfire was lit and the stars were glistening off the lake.
Now I must admit there wasn't any fly rods to be seen, not at first at least. Old spinning rods and wedding bands with a fresh dug dew worm were all that was ever used. Trolling around the lake letting the line slip through the eyes and just waiting, watching the shore line pass by for that ever familiar tug. One such day on one such pass of his favorite lake a white phased black bear (unbeknownst to me until much later that these are actually Spirit bears and have deep meanings) came down from the trees and just stood by the water's edge. He just watched us go by no more than a stone's throw away as I bombarded my Grandpa with questions that he politely yet quickly answered. My grandfather was a polite man but had little to say. When he did speak you listened for there was wisdom in every word. This is the best way to describe him, patient and wise.
We spent a lot of time out exploring this great province we call home. He always was the first one up and the first one ready to hit the boat. Whether it be to escape the constant nagging us grandchildren inevitably did or to get away with not doing dishes, one will never know. He always would at least ask to take someone with him though. His knowledge came from trial and error and once he found something he liked, he used it. My Dad did fumble through a phase of fly tying when I was just born. Apparently, I learned just recently, my grandfather would take batches of Doc Spratley's he tied and use those when the worms wouldn't work. I'm pretty sure that was the extent of his "fly fishing". Regardless of his techniques, he always caught fish and I regret not going on the last trip he ever went on.
My transition to fly fishing all stemmed from his death. A sad day indeed and a wake up call for a young man, not sure what to do with his life. That day a change came over me, I knew I had always loved to be outdoors. I loved fishing and that sad moment I decided to keep the family tradition going and spend more time doing the things I loved, in hopes of making him proud, or as at least honouring a man who I viewed as a hero. Since then, I've done nothing but fly fish and through learning on my own have been able to catch some fish along the way. We visit those same lakes I explored as a kid. This time with a great group of friends and our own pickups. We haven't gone to homemade campers just yet, but I've built a bed and rod storage unit for my canopy. What can I say, I was taught young to be handy and crafty.
With the addition of this Freestone endeavor into my life and a fully encompassing life of fishing now, I have to look back and thank my Grandpa. I miss him dearly, I wish he could see some of my catches and I wish I could have tied him my own batch of Doc Spratley's (which coincidentally was one of the first flies I used). I can only hope that I can at least share some of my knowledge to my nephew in the same way my Grandpa did with me, patiently.