I remember my first trout on a fly rod, it was on a red San Juan worm that I let drift past the pool I was fishing in Oak Creek. A small brown darted out and hooked itself more than I did and I was able to drag it to shore. That was midway through my college experience and those stumbling first steps learning to fish is an experience I wouldn’t have any other way. My son’s first time out fishing is something he will not remember, he’s too young but I hope there is an echo of it somewhere in his head as he grows up. I know for one thing’s for sure, his mom and I certainly won’t forget his first day out fishing.
We have been thinking of taking him fishing practically since we got him home, but I’m glad we waited a few months for car rides to be a little more bearable for all parties. We could have taken him to the local pond with it’s stocked sunfish, bass and trout. Believe me I considered it quite a few times, but you only get to go on your first fishing trip once! We wanted it to be to a special place looking for a special fish. My favorite trout, the Gila Trout. On my wife’s favorite kind of creek, a tiny creek.
These salmonids are endemic to the high elevation pine and cool desert creeks of the Gila River watershed. While these fish are incredibly hardy with regards to temperature and stream size compared to many other trout, invasive species and habitat destruction have contributed to these fish nearly disappearing. Recently the Arizona and New Mexico state game agencies have begun opening up more and more restored populations to be fishable. This particular creek was reopened the same year our son was born and it seemed that the stars had lined up for this to be his first outing looking for trout.
Cool fall mornings and changing leaves make for some incredible creek side scenery and the sycamores and maples along the banks certainly lived up to their reputations. Especially it you’re a 6 month old that likes looking at bright things and his head was on a swivel the whole walk in. This creek is tiny, there are almost no places you can’t step across and keep your feet dry. There are sections where if you aren’t careful with your back cast you could be wrapped up in a prickly pear. Don’t let the size or the cactus fool you, there are trout here.
We fished about a half mile of creek at a very relaxed pace, with multiple naps under the changing sycamores and sessions of staring at the moving water. Again a very fascinating thing at any age, but especially at six months. We caught a few fish and I’m not quite sure if he actually ever saw them or was just excited to look at the water, but I’ll choose to remember him seeing them. The fish came up for dries and chased small streamers. It was everything I’ve come to expect from small stream Gila Trout. Plus how often do you have to watch out for Yucca and Prickly Pear when you are casting dry flies at trout?
It was a perfect day capped off by a sleeping baby for the whole trip home (maybe the best part of the day?). I can’t wait to watch him figure this whole fishing thing out, well as much as anybody can figure fishing out.