2009/8/24 Yuuto’s Debut to Fly Fishing – Fish On! Shishidome
For my son’s last day of summer holiday, I was thinking about what activities would establish at least some challenge. Mathematics? English/Japanese grammars? Athletics? His answer was “take me to fishing!”, so we did.
We left Tokyo before noon and arrived at Fish On! Shishidome fishing park around 1:15pm. In order to execute the initiation to the brotherhood of fly fishing perfectly, I swore myself to stop being “too daddy” today. This was my son’s special day, not mine. He won’t feel a bit of fun, if I made it look too hard or pushed him with expectations from my alter ego. Today, I was his coach, fellow, and guide. No preaching, no sweating, and no patronizing.
Session 1: Get to Know the Fishing with Fly
Easy fly, easy fish, and easy landscape. That’s pretty much where I placed my son. He is holding Easy Fly rod by Skagit Designs which is a hybrid fly rod between tenkara and western fly fishing.
Fly rod is made in every possible way similar to fly rod except it has only top guide and no reel. Instead of normal fly line, it comes with customized clear tenkara line which can be cast in the same casting form as in fly fishing. Transparency of the tenkara line didn’t help much on the test cast, because it made so much splash when hitting water. So, I put 6 feet 5X.
I assisted my son to grip with single hand and cast with “swing it small on back, stop” and “swing it small forward and drop the line on water”. He did well on the very first cast and the line was cast in straight path carrying fly to where fish was. I let him select the fly, and I tied pink egg fly. I told him to recreate the same cast few feet above the fish he was aiming for, and he did exactly so. Then.. on the third cast, the first strike came.
I couldn’t help, but screamed in panic, “f,f,f,fish!” It shocked my son who moved the rod tip about a foot, then there was hooked fish. Battle commenced, so I instructed my son to hold the rod with two hands and step back 1 foot at time. I was so nervous not to miss his first fish, and I almost touched the leader to help him land faster, but he told me “No daddy. I will pull him out, catch it with net”. So I did wait and landed his precious first catch.
Session 2: Familiarize with the Concept of Bag Limit & Release
The very first one he caught was about 40cm (sticking out of net for
about 5cm). It was very good fight for an young angler 110cm tall, and I knew my son wouldn’t give up his
trophy catch easily. I’m not by all mean release puritan and I love eating good fish. Fishpond has plenty of fish to replace, so there is absolutely no need to release fish. But… I need to teach him that he doesn’t have to keep every fish unless he is feeding the whole village. Catch, release, and keep only the one his family eat.
I told my son, “Let’s take the fish out of net and make him rest in shallow, okay?” He understood what it meant and insisted on taking it back to show to mom and his brother. I proposed, “If he swims for escape, let him be. If he doesn’t, let’s keep him.” He stood there watching his fish for a while, then the fish took neither course. Fish was drifted downstream to the pocket one below. God moves in a mysterious way… My son had to give up his fish in the most unbeatable way possible leaving none for blame.
Session 3: Correction for Motivation
I noticed that the escaped fish was bit of shock to my son. He was now obsessed to catch the next one. Surely the fish nearby got all spooked by his rush, so my son did exactly what everyone does when fishing is bad… ache for distance. I noticed his casting arc got wider and wider attempting to cast further. I took him out for 15 minute juice break, then showed him to cast with two-handed now.
This gave my son better grip and rod snap which naturally bounced the fly line at its furthest. He caught another fish smaller than 30cm. I demonstrated my quick catch & release, and he became angry at me for intentionally releasing fish. I told him, “Let’s catch bigger fish”.
Session 4: Keeping & Properly Kill the Fish
My son managed to call for another good size at 35cm. It’s close enough to the size of the first fish, so, I asked, “Would you agree it’s time to keep the fish?” and he agreed. I then asked, “What would you want to do with this fish?”. He said, “I want to show it to mom and let my brother eat it!”.
So, I explained what I was about to do. “I now have to kill this fish, so we could have it for dinner” . With no hesitation, I quickly cut the spinal cord of fish to instantly kill it without pain or struggle (which will decrease the amount of amino acid forming good taste). “Wow. That’s it?”, said my son. “I’ll teach you one day”, said me.
Session 5: Preparing Fish into Kosher Food
I took my son to kitchen space in the fishing park where I performed the fish factory. Cutting away head and gut, peel off the skin, and slice it into fillet. I didn’t want him to have any doubt in any process, so I explained every step like, “You have to drain as much blood as possible, then take away the residue, because they will spoil the meat”. He took it well and replied, “That’s really fun to watch it become meat!”. I now understand the line between kids become vegetarian and kids who don’t.
Result & Summary
So, my son went through the complete cycle of fly fishing today as simple as possible. It was half day of fish, river, and him. If he comes back to it, then I will see him get used to fishing rod. If he becomes comfortable with single-handed casting, then that’s time for the next step. Because I would very much love to go out fishing with him again and again.
– Rainbow trout x 3: 24-40cm