Since the moment my daughter, Little Chick, picked up a flyrod, she has received no shortage of instruction, advice and input. Diligently she would practice with her Orvis 4-wt seven-foot rod. And finally last year one tip brought everything into focus for her: Lift your rod like you’re bringing a telephone up to your ear, hold it there long enough to say, “Hello, how are you doing?” and then set it back down.
All of a sudden her casting was looking good!
Unfortunately the fish on The Missouri refused to reward her stick-to-it-iv-ness and all-around positive attitude. Here and there she managed to sit in my lap and “land” a few trout that one of us had hooked for her. But her own fish…that still eluded her.
This past July we traipsed over to the Blackfoot for a few days. My mother and I had a pretty good feeling that this was going to be Little Chick’s moment of glory. But we didn’t dare say so to anyone other than ourselves. And even then, only in a hushed whisper.
Besides Little Chick was in heaven anyway. She’d been trying for so long I think she thought casting was fishing – and she was perfectly delighted to do just that. But after lunch on our first day on the Blackfoot, she put a short cast off the front of the raft in some fast water and CHOMP! A fish came right down on it.
We all started screaming “HIT IT! HIT IT! HIT IT!” as if she had a world-record tarpon strike her line.
But Little Chick didn’t move a muscle.
Immediately we started laying on the speech that we’ve all given ourselves a million times…how it’s all about the “take”…getting them to eat it is the most difficult part…congratulations are definitely still in order.
But Little Chick didn’t seem excited at all. In fact she looked upset. I leaned in for a little tete-a-tete because she had a question she was too embarrassed to ask out loud. “Mommy,” she asked with tears swelling in her eyes. “What does ‘HIT IT’ mean?”
Of all the instruction, tips, and advice she’d received over the years…we forgot one fairly critical nugget. So once again we were falling over ourselves trying to offer instruction.
Day Two on the Blackfoot was sublime. I was having my own troutfest in the front of the boat because no one else wanted to fish. I couldn’t get Little Chick back in the game. But eventually I got on this crazy, ridiculous bank with lots of grabby little fish. And I noticed her taking notice.
Little Chick loves rummaging through a fly box. So we bribed her with a trip through the hopper section – her favorite. And we cut her a deal. If she fished this bank, she could pick any bug in the box and then keep it.
Needless to say she picked a pink and purple hopper that looked like it should have the BARBIE logo printed on it.
Well, with the Barbie Hopper she got a take on her first cast. We screamed HIT IT, and this time she did, but didn’t manage to set the hook. Nevertheless she was intrigued. Her posture straightened and she tuned us out. Little Chick was on a mission.
She had two more misses but you could see she was really into it. And finally it happened! Fourth time was a charm. She made a perfect cast and BOOM. Fish chomped down on it, and we didn’t even have to say HIT IT. She saw it eat and she set the hook, all on her own. The biggest little trout in history.
So this is a fishing story that’s really more of a love story. I have never seen Little Chick so happy. Christmas morning, birthdays, even the time she lost her first tooth…this surpassed them all. Little Chick fell madly in love with her fish and I was the proudest mommy on the planet.
It was a happy day on the Blackfoot.
happy valentine’s day sweet baby girl…