The Rats Nest

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011, And A Little About Me And My Family

Tessa's Card
 First and foremost, Happy Fathers Day to all you Dad's out there.  I hope each and every one of you managed to enjoy your day with friends and family, relaxed, or spent time doing what you love. 

As Good As Fishing....
  I am going to take some time here to bring you into my world, and give you a little taste of why this Father's Day was so special for me.  It all started with that little homemade card you see to the left.  My oldest daughter of 3 and change, Tessa, made that for me last week and it was the beginning of a very memorable weekend to say the least.  My wife Meg, and my two girls Tessa and Nora along with both of my parents spent the weekend in a cabin on the shores of my favorite Northeastern Trout fishery, the Upper Delaware river.  Now, I know, big surprise here, a guy who loves fly fishing, sweeping his family away to do what he is most passionate about right?  Sounds pretty selfish at first, but let me elaborate upon why this weekend meant so much to me. 

November 2002, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I will never forget this day for the rest of my life, as it changed my father's life forever.  My father was in the front yard of their 4 acre wooded lot, cutting some trees for the ensuing winter, as he had some wind damaged birches in the yard that would make for good firewood in the year to come.   Little did he know that the tree he was about to cut was rotted in the middle and would snap at about eye level while he was doing so.  What happened next is what most call a widow maker, as it literally makes widows out of married women. 
Several Of These Taken On Dries

A Perfect Place
 The tree snapped and hit my father square in the face.  Being of tough Polish descent, he weathered what most would have succumbed to and found the will to walk blinded back to the back porch and to the aid of my mother.  Being the strong willed woman that she is, she found the courage to race my father to the Hospital for help.   I'll be honest with you, I've seen some pretty bad injuries in my life, and when I first laid eyes on my father I thought I was probably looking at him for the last time.  After many surgeries, two fused vertebrae, 11 Titanium plates in his upper face, no sinus cavity, a prosthetic eye, and the loss of taste and smell, he managed to pull through.  In three months time he was back to work pounding nails as he is one hell of a carpenter.  The doctors couldn't believe his recovery, and the term miracle was thrown around many times.  Not only did he make, a little different in appearance, but still the same guy, he managed to be there at my mothers side for my wedding day the following fall, and then later on to see his two grand daughters Tessa and Nora. 

Dad With A Pod Of Risers Right Out The Gates

Enjoying The Day

 Now I know this doesn't have much to do with fishing till now, more along the lines of how life can change at the snap of a finger.  My father was always a very dedicated and hard working man who taught me many good lessons in life, and is a big part of how I turned out as a human being, and I owe him a lifetime of gratitude.  Growing up, I spent a great many hours on the nearby trout streams that littered the hills I grew up on, and mostly as a result of my fascination with my fathers fishing gear I gawked over in my dads woodworking shop.

 Now, my father as told to me by my uncle Eddie, (my dads brother) always expressed to me that he learned everything he knew about trout fishing from my dad.  Fascinated by this, my dad gave me a rod, some casting lessons on the lawn and told me to learn from the stream at an early age.  It just so happens though, that while growing up as a kid, because of my fathers devotion to provide for his family, we never made it out onto the water together.  Don't take this the wrong way, I do not fault him in the least bit as he did what he had to do to provide for his family.
The Only Picture Captured Of "The Battle"
A Nice Sulfur Eating Brown
Dad Locked Up With His First In 40 Or So Years
 So for years now, I have been trying to get on the water and share something with my father that I didn't want to let slip away, and this Father's day weekend we finally did that together.   Last summer after Meg and I spent a few days at the Westbranch Angler, one of our favorite places to stay on the Delaware, we booked the weekend with this in mind.

We arrived late on Thursday night, almost Friday morning, and mom and dad showed up Friday around 10:00 AM. 
Close Up Of The Same Fish

Wasting no time, with my dad excited about fishing, and most importantly out of a drift boat, something he never had done before, we set off from the cabin after some good Intel from my friend and fellow guide Jeff Church, and floated down river about 3 miles.  Right out the gates we had rising fish, mostly on Sulfurs, then on Olives and we had targets to start our day.  Knocking off the rust, my dad managed a few smaller browns and the skunk was off quickly.  On our maiden voyage down the river we managed some nice fish, lost a few hogs but finally got the opportunity to share something that is a huge part of who I am, and once was for my father.

Ending on a high note, coming back to the cabin for beers and steaks capped off a great beginning to the weekend.  The next day we decided to float down to the cabin and brave the crowds, and boy were we glad that we did.

From the second the boat slipped off the trailer we had hundreds of sulfurs blanketing the water and this went on for the better part of four hours.  Within the first 100 yards of our day we struck gold.

My dad is nymph fishing this typically productive run when the rod bends in half and a barrel sized flush erupts on the water.  Dad is into a hog brown.  He fought the beast great, and my heart was racing as I was eager to get this fish in the net and grab a quick picture with dad, the icing on the cake.  We get the beast in the net, a few high fives and an embrace and we stand in awe at the beautiful specimen my dad just had the pleasure of playing with.  A fish of 23 inches is in the bag, and I'm on cloud nine as my dad gets a small taste of why I hold this particular fishery so close to my heart.  I Lift the fish out of the net camera ready, and show my dad just how to hold the fish for the photo op, all in the meanwhile explaining to him that the net will be at his waist in case he slips.  Camera ready, we go for the pose and the fish just ain't having it,  and jumps out of his hand and slips away into the abyss.   I think my dad was more upset, and trust me dad if you read this, It doesn't matter we had our moment.

Evening Honeymoon Float
We managed to hook more fish as the float went on and we seemed to be ahead of the curve all day with several fish on nymphs and dry flies including the buttery brown above.  The weekend was perfect, good laughs, some stellar times with family, good eats and some new friends made at the resort.  Tessa even got her first boat ride (pictures to follow), and Meg and I floated that evening after dad and I returned, experiencing even more fantastic surface fishing.  I guess you could say mission accomplished.  I know now, as my father said when we got off the water, this just might have been one of the best days of my life.  Aside from the birth of my girls and marrying my wife, I'd have to say you are right on dad, happy fathers day......

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