March is the official month for Spring Break for most people in school. I got a call from a great client and a couple of his friends wanted to come up and fish for a few days during their kids spring breaks. We set up the dates and they arrived just in time for another one of our spring storms, which have been more fierce than our winter storms for the past couple of years. They arrived as the snow was falling and it was piling up at a very fast rate. We awoke to about 9 inches of snow on the morning of their trip, but fortunately the sun was out and the storm left us with a few days of decent weather. I decided to stay on foot the first day since the temps were only supposed to reach into the mid 30's, with a 5 year old and an 8 year old along there was no way we weren't staying close to the heater in the truck. We met at the Ennis Pharmacy for some lunch and a half day of fishing in the afternoon, when the sun was to be warming the area up a bit. After lunch we headed for the Madison to do a bit of wade fishing. The fishing was good on the first day and both the boys had a blast running around in the snow, sliding down the hills in their waders and hitting us with snowballs when we weren't looking. For two kids from the Napa valley they were pretty excited to have the winter wonderland to frolic around in. Dad and his brother had a good time fishing and Uncle Morgan hit a hot hole and managed to land about a dozen nice fish from that afternoon. The boys got a bit cold by late in the afternoon so we called it a day and made plans to meet on the Lower Madison the next day.
Day two started out a bit later than we had planned because of getting the boys up as well as the guys driving past the meeting point. We shoved off by 11:00 am and the boys were excited to be in a boat, the 5 year old was a little confused because the boat didn't have an engine and it was much smaller than the boat they went on in the ocean off the coast of Costa Rica. We put Uncle Morgan in the back to do some serious fishing and the boys took turns fishing from the front. Hopes were high for catching some fish because the weather had warmed and the sun was shining high in the sky. We made it about 15 minutes before the patience of the 5 year old started to wear off and I decided we better get the boat to shore and let the kids play around. I ended stopping on a shallow weed bed in the middle of the river and the 8 year old was still interested in fishing. I set up the three who were interested in fishing and took Luca the 5 year old out to seine for bugs and wade around in the water. He had a great time exploring as the other three plied the water for fish.
We had very little success on our pit stop so we jumped back in the boat and headed downstream to get to our lunch spot. We hooked one rainbow before lunch, which was a pretty slow morning and hoped that luck would change after we filled up on Hot BBQ beef sandwiches, Cheetos, Apple slices and Oreo cookies for desert. It wasn't the most gourmet lunch I make for clients but gearing it towards the kids made it perfect. After lunch we floated a bit further and made a stop in a side channel that saved the day for us. The kids had a great time exploring the island and learning about the birds, flora and fauna as well as a bunch of insect collecting, dad and his brother got in some quality fishing time and both of them hooked and landed some nice fish that were sitting in a couple of deep holes in the side channel. The 5 year old didn't want to be left out once he saw his dad and Uncle catching fish so he grabbed a rod and started to whip the water feverously with it.
Neither of the two young boys were able to hook any fish but they did both start to get the hang of the rod a bit and by the end of the day I had high hopes of getting them into some fish on their last day. We hit the ramp around 5 because they were eager to hit the Norris Hot Springs on their way back to Ennis.
I met up with them all again the next day for another float, this time on the Upper river. The fishing was hot right out of the gate and Uncle Morgan hooked several nice fish and let the boys reel them in. Young Marko helped his uncle land this rainbow and we got a great family shot to share with the grandparents.
We continued on down the river and the fishing was very good the rest of the day. Young Marko was pretty tired by the middle of the day and he was more interested in snow ball fights than he was fishing. His older brother Luca got to fish from the front of the boat most of the afternoon and he really started to get the hang of casting and mending. By the end of the trip he had hooked a few fish and lost them so the pressure was mounting to get one to the boat. I dropped the anchor in a very productive spot and let out all the anchor rope so that I could let the boat float an extra 30 feet on each of his drifts through the hole. After each drift I would pull the boat back up to the top of the run and once his cast landed I pushed the boat forward and let it float along with the indicator. On the third drift through the hole the indicator went down and Luca lifted the rod hard and the fight was on. He did a great job and landed his first fish on a fly rod all by himself.
It was a nice 17 inch whitefish and he could not have been more proud of himself for his accomplishment. His dad took about 30 photo's of the fish and I am waiting for the pictures to arrive in my email any day now.
The trip finished off on a very high note and despite the cold weather lots of fun was had by all. Taking kids fishing is always a challenge but they are some of my favorite trips of the year. Getting kids outside and away from all our technology is so important and I hope that a seed was planted in each of them that may turn into a lifetime of enjoying the wild side of being outdoors.