Tag: children

Get them started fishing. The younger the better.

I’m not sure whether it was the lack of video game consoles, the un-structured playtime (i.e. playdate what?) or the fact that Al Gore hadn’t yet taken the initiative in creating the internet, but when I was young we spent most of our free time outside. Fishing was very, very high on the list of activities. It presented challenge, competition, and a harmless direction for the expenditure of allowance dollars. No adult types asked any questions.

There is no doubt in my mind that it stuck. I still fish every chance I get, albeit only with fly gear now. That, in turn, has led to my looking at the household budget with flies and lines at the top of the non-discretionary list. Nobody is asking any question, still. And while I don’t have children of my own (a debate on that particular point may well lean towards the general benefit to mankind of not having my progeny walking the Earth after I’m gone), most of my friends do. Those friends, for the most part, fish as well, and many of them are already getting their kids started.

Remember these little tykes? They’re not only fishing – they’re getting publicized (see here and here)! Those boys are six and four, respectively, and I doubt their barely two-year old sister is far behind. Pete McDonald’s little gal is out on the boat, and her favorite word is “fishy”! My personal fly tying instructor David Luna has been taking his boy out fishing too. Little Diego is 3 1/2 years old, and I’ve heard he can already outcast me. I love it.

I’ve got a point here, but I just can seem to get to it. Oh yea…get them started fishing! And the younger the better! They’ll be happier, healthier, more full of wonder. Teach them about catch and release – they’ll quickly grasp the idea of conservation that way – kill only what you plan on eating. And show them how to cook fish too. (Editor’s quick-note: Don’t ever engage in cooking a trout, wrapped in bacon, in the Desolation Wilderness, when there’s a bear alert on. Trust me on this one.)

You don’t need expensive equipment, and you certainly don’t need to start off fly fishing on day one either (goodness knows I don’t need the competition). Just get them out there, and do brag about the fun. Fishy Kid, an organization created by two very fishy (in a good way) dads to promote the idea, is running their Three Months of Summer Fishing Contest right now. That’s as good a place as any to show off what your kids are doing with a rod n’ reel in hand, and they might even win some sweet gear to boot.

MG signing off (still full of wonder, just with a never-dwindling supply of smack-talking capability)

Enticing kids to ever greater feats of daring

Break your arm in horseplay and get gifts from Uncle Michael

As it happens the young son of some very close friends of mine broke his arm. He and the elder boy were playing a game – see what distance one can attain by running across the basement floor, hurling themselves over the back of the sofa, and landing in a pile of bean bags (that’s the general description, but don’t quote me on the details). The big kid – a bonafide daredevil who was skiing GS and jumping his BMX bike on a home built ramp at the age of 4 – makes his leap. Unfortunately, the younger brother hadn’t gotten out of the way after his attempt – the older lands on the younger and SNAP!

So what does a friend send the kids to encourage more responsible playtime activities?

Monster trucks and supercross bikes! Duh.

Even the one-year old daughter got a Suzuki RM 125 (albeit a vintage two-stroke model). Rumor has it these fine young ones are already debating which vehicle can jump the farthest.

Sometimes I love my work.

MG signing off (to continue being a role model for children everywhere)

I believe the world would be a better place with more kids fly fishing

Hark back to days of yore

Transport for youthLast year’s model DG, equipped with the Tuff wheels and long cranks, was the neighborhood’s standard-issue implement for the attainment of glory. A three foot by two foot piece of weathered plywood propped against spare cinder blocks, in a driveway cleared by the adults for jump hour, drew challengers from far and wide (or at least within an earshot of their own front doors). The queue would form along the runway, most onlookers determined to outdo the prior contestant. There would be cheers and jeers, and maidens would swoon. Then some spoiled punk (who’s parents owned a persistently bankrupt parking lot resurfacing business) would show up in a shiny new gold FMF and momentarily steal the show with a single, perfectly executed table-top maneuver. We knew that’s all he had, but we’d feign impression, and then like clockwork the crowd would disperse.

To go fishing

South FloridaThose BMX bikes could fly, then so could the casts. The knobbies would morph utilitarian, carrying bands of brothers (and the much welcomed, curious sisters) across plots of land that would later, much later, be labeled suburban sprawl. To a dark canal, constructed in the duality of road fill and flood control, and home to freshwater shrimps and a lifetime supply of pet turtles. Or a lesser known, sparsely hyacinth-ed pond, tucked away behind a seldom used stable, an electrified fence, and the occasional moo-cow. And misplaced, juvenile alligators.

Our adventures were always enveloped in discovery. We’d cross paths with red and yellow rat snakes, and if really lucky, a king snake. On the travels back all the better, a new found addition to converted aquariums (after all, it just didn’t seem right holding fish captive). A pile of discarded wood fencing often held scorpions, and we were certainly not afraid of them. They’d be harassed and harangued for an amusing dance, and some fool would always be carrying one of mom’s Bell jars to guarantee an “A” at school show-n-tell. Spotting a panther, preferably a black one, would capture our hearts and our minds for a moment as fleeting as the cat’s own legs. The end-game was fishing.

Boxes contained but a few token baits, and leaders were an item valued in terms of the number of lawns one had to mow to afford them. Nevertheless, fish were always caught. Call it a benefit of the fish’s own lack of education back then, but it reminds this angler that he probably has more flies that he needs now. And has taken too much for granted.

I would not trade the memories of my youth, growing up an outdoors person at heart, for the world. Well, maybe the world, at which point I could do whatever I want and promptly renege. However, I’d be amiss by saying those days are gone forever – they most certainly are not. I stand by the water (probably more often than I should), feeling all too fortunate, but making the best attempts possible to remind myself that it wasn’t just luck. My soul was shaped by my youthful endeavors, a fervent appreciation for the outdoors taking center stage in my life as a result. Being charming, handsome, and a self-aggrandizing but undeniably superb a decent angler? That was luck.

fishy kidA fabulous endorsement of youth

Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto and Kevin Powell of Red Dirt Studio have joined forces to create Fishy Kid:

Fishy Kid was inspired by two fathers who enjoy the sport of fly fishing and want to do our part in passing along the virtues of the outdoors to our children as well as to families within the online angling community.

Mr. Mortenson expounds:

The first project for Fishy Kid is a children’s coloring book and contest with over 30 pages from premier angling artists such as Derek DeYoung, Jeff Kennedy, A.D. Maddox, Kevin Powell, Paul Puckett, Kirk Werner, Bob White, and Mark Yuhina. This coloring book is quite impressive and so good that when we’re done with the children’s coloring contest we’re going to run an adult contest too. Sharpen up those crayon and colored pencils since I’ve already got a couple of cool prizes lined up.

At first blush, cute. On second pass, genuine, and brilliant. Start them young, and while full of wonder.

When I heard about these gentlemen’s efforts it instantly reminded me of a humid summer day by that first dark canal. My own father handed me a old bamboo rod and beat up reel. The first course wasn’t a fly but a bread ball. It was fruitful – I caught my first fish ever, a bluegill. Everyone has points in their life they would soon soon forget, particularly from childhood, myself included. But this introduction has remained etched in my mind, brilliantly technicolor, defying my age. Defining me now. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can hardly wait to see what beautiful creations the children of Fishy Kids cook up, and with hopes they fulfill some of those dreams at the water’s edge. Brought there on a DG bike.

Teaching your kid to fish

parksfirstfish035Fly rods are unwieldy for small children, but you can always hand ’em a Lightning McQueen:

Normally I wouldn’t go out of my way to catch some stocked fish, but today was different. Today I was on a mission to break the cherry on a pretty sweet rod. That’s right my son’s Lightning McQueen Rod, an Easter gift from his Pop.

The accompanying pictorial drama is enough to make any angler want to introduce their kid to fishing. Way to go Urban Fly Fisher!

(h/t @roughfisher)

From Lefty Kreh’s lips to my ears

Words of wisdom from a fly fishing icon (and maker of fine lemonade)

I thought I was about to meet a man jaded by attention. Lefty Kreh is certainly a fly fishing legend, and today he was deep in his realm – an outdoors industry convention. But the person I sat and chatted with was a kid in a candy store, eager to share his insights on more than half a century of throwing fly lines, an economy and industry seemingly in flux, and embracing family.

Lefty Kreh and Michael Gracie


Mr. Kreh on the expense of picking up the sport of fly fishing:

Yes, there is a lot of expense regarding fly fishing. In some cases I think it’s just too much, but the industry is adjusting. There was a time when really expensive gear was all there was out there – nowadays you and I can pick up just about any inexpensive combo, go out fishing, and have a good time. In fact, just about anyone can.

Following up on the above, Mr. Kreh on fly rods:

There are no bad fly rods out there for sale anymore. You can pick up a rod at a big box sports retailer that does the job quite well, and without breaking the bank.

And Mr. Kreh on reels:

Like rods, where technology worked its way down to the point where all of them do a good job in the casting and catching departments, fly reels are following. The very best are still built for people with lots of money, but even those people are holding back. Now we are seeing great reels come off the shelf that are both very functional and very affordable.

Mr. Kreh on the economy, and how it will effect the sport:

I lived through the Great Depression. And while it wasn’t the best of times, one thing I found that rang true was that the lack of money brought people closer together. Families in particular, banded together. Even if we see similar bad economic times, that one point will make it seem nowhere near as bad. Fly fishing doesn’t need to be a solitary pursuit – more families participating in the sport of fly fishing, together, would be great for our sport. It’s interesting that when ever there has been a recession in this country, the number of fishing licenses issued goes up. That could be the basis of a whole other discussion, but again I find it interesting.

Mr. Kreh, on why it seems kids would rather play video games than go fly fishing:

I think part of the fascination kids have with video games, and computers and the internet, comes from the fact that parents sometime struggle to make ends meet. So they both work, and kids need an safe outlet when the parents are not around – technology like video games may have given kids some of that. But with our economy taking a dip, I think that there may be less work for those parents, and less money for those video games. At least one of the parents may be around more for their kids, and while I wish the best for families in that situation from the money standpoint, I also think parents and children being together more is a good thing whether they decide to spend that extra time together fishing or not. If the parents decide to take their kids fishing, that’s even better.

Mr. Kreh on the start of the International Sportsmen’s Expo:

I’ve been to a lot of these events in my day. This is the best Thursday I’ve seen in quite a while.

Mr. Kreh on why women make such great fly fishers:

I can teach any women to fly cast, just as long as I’m not married to her [laughter then ensued between both of us, as well as a couple of folks listening in]. Women are more patient that we are (well most of the time..wink wink). There are groups now to bring them together to learn the sport, which is good for fly fishing. And you also see organizations like Casting for Recovery popping up that help women through very difficult times in their lives, through fly fishing. And I think that is great for both the women that participate as well as the sport.

And finally, when asked how he’s kept it all together for so long, and with such enthusiam, he added:

I thank my darling wife.

I could have spent a month with Lefty Kreh, picking his brain about why he tied this or that fly a certain way, or better yet…how to add thirty feet to my casting range. But as he stood up, acknowledging the folks standing by for his next casting demonstration, those things now seemed so trivial. I left thinking there are few lemons in Lefty’s world, while carrying the certainty that fly fishing had something to do with it.

Editor’s note: As if the time I spent with Mr. Kreh at the ISE wasn’t good enough, I also got the chance to sit down and chat with two of the finest guides in Colorado, Pat Dorsey of Blue Quill Angler and Chris Ramos of Anglers Covey. These gentleman have been fly fishing and guiding others all their lives, and their office, classroom and backyard barbecue is situated primarily on Colorado’s famed South Platte River. I’ll have the text of that discussion up ASAP (probably hopefully by midday Friday) – it is equally insightful regarding the passions of some fine folks who live fly fishing day in and day out (and you might get a few secret tips too), but is also a significantly amount of content I have to parse through. Nevertheless, if you can’t wait that long head over to ISE Denver at the Colorado Convention Center tomorrow, Saturday, or Sunday and meet them in person!

Fears over kids’ online safety overblown

This probably isn’t news to kids…they’re not as naive as everyone makes them out to be. Thank goodness there’s now a study out that says the same.

They could have skipped the study though – the story has already been told.

Comcast: my friendly, caring, and cheap dogsitter

Today must be National Bash Comcast Day.

Someone started a rant about Comcast’s poor service. Glenn Reynolds picked up on it and is now running a poll asking his readers to help him decide which service to switch to. Others are piling on.

How about turning off the TV for a bit and getting outside, eh?

I am a Comcast subscriber. A happy Comcast subscriber. I have the minimum cable TV subscription possible, and the only reason I turn on the TV is to keep the dog company when I’m out. Even that has competition, since the neighbors love taking him, and…

I keep a Mac Mini around as a backup computer, which also serves duty as a nightly server backup machine (with a neat little AppleScript/cron job combination) and as a stereo system (married to Bose Companions, all sitting on the fireplace mantle). I’m now piping Minnesota Public Radio through it during the day – that has elevated my already stupendous canine friend into the intellectual elite, with a combination of classical music and mixed talk (although frankly, my dog would probably bite me if he knew I was comparing him to the “intellectual elite”).

I find it hilarious that people are squawking about the fact that kids aren’t too keen on the outdoors anymore while simultaneously pissing and moaning about their cable service.

By the way, I also have a Comcast internet connection, and it screams. I’ve moved twice with it and always found the techs courteous and willing to work with someone who possesses a bit of technical know-how (like understanding how to get a connection through the modem without having to install software). They are always cool as cats as far as I’m concerned.

Maybe I get treated well by them because I loved getting dirty as a kid (and still do)?

Privacy breach begins at school age in Britain

According to a pile of bureaucrats in the UK, fingerprinting schoolage children is fair game. Parents – piss off! You have no right to stop it.

The next headline you are likely to see?

“Private, Fingerprint-Free School Company in UK Goes Public At Trillion-Dollar Market Cap”

…that is, after the headline that reads something like “mass exodus begins from UK public school systems.”

More kids like this wouldn’t hurt the world

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

Touching, to say the least. Thanks go out to the contributors, and that kid’s parents.

A Complete Stranger Made My Day

I have been fretting for weeks about computer storage. While I tend to get rid of any physical items I don’t need anymore, I am a total pack rat when it comes to data. I have saved every company and client file I ever produced, as well as digitized every document back to my kindergarten report cards. So my office is obsessively neat, but I consume hard drive space like Chevy Suburbans consume gasoline.

Yesterday, I decided to do something about it (again), and when I saw a post on eBay for a new Acomdata 160 GB firewire/USB 2 combo external hard drive, at $90 shipped, I had to jump on it.

Then this morning, I received an unexpected email that made the effort seem oh so worthwhile.