When I met Chris and his 8yr old son Billy in Boone, NC on the moist morning of October 10 little did I know what a great time I was in for. Chris and I had talked several times on the phone and via email, his 8yr old son Billy I'd never met but been told of his excitement of fishing and his overall enthusiasm.
That was right on the mark too for enthusiastic he was, and a really good caster and good fisherman, an testimony to Dad and the time spent and investment in bringing him to that point.
We rigged up and got in the water. I saw pretty quickly that Billy could cast very well, I mean really well, I mean its just not that often that you have an 8yr old that can put the cast exactly where you say and do it the first time. I was stunned. Only minutes into our fishing I realized I had a real angler on my hands......and his potential is unreal if he sticks with it - -which by the way, won't be an issue given his obvious passion for what we were trying to do.
There's a famous quote, though I love it, I am not sure who's words these are, but the effect remains the same. It goes like this: "Its what we learn after we think we know it all that counts." Ouch. And how true.
With the sound of the bubbling riffle in my left ear and Billy waiting patiently to my right, I took out my fly box and started to reach for another pattern to try. Honestly, the fish were being a little tougher than they usually are and quite honestly I could not figure out why. It was then that Billy stated with authority and confidence- - unlike that you'd expect from an 8yr old- -"...hey those smaller flies right there, I usually catch my fish with flies like that. Maybe we should try one." When you are a guide and hear that there are some choices to be made. Conceding to trying a fly, I mean come on its like admitting defeat or that something isn't working.....but given how the fish weren't responding I was willing to change the game and honor Billy's request. I replied, "so you think we should use a small fly like this one?" "Yes..." Billy replied. So I picked the fly out of the box, tied it on, and I mean if it wasn't the next cast that Billy's fly drifted right down the trough we were just fishing and that I knew held fish--- - and his line dashed upstream and indicator went under. With the quickness and poise of an angler way beyond his years he set the hook, played the fish, and I netted the fish for him. He was happy and I was stunned.........I was thinking maybe Billy needs to be the one guiding me! Needless to say that whole moment impacted me a great deal and I'll never forget it.
I guess we all need to eat some humble pie and learn to be a good listener. It paid off for both of us today.....and Billy was right! Hmmmm.............I'll bet if my lovely bride reads this she'll agree that I need to be a better listener too.........! Oh well, there's work to be done so why don't I finish this up and go eat another slice of pie.
Billy, you can come with me anytime!