|Gabe doing what he does best.|
But every once in a great while, someone comes along that reminds you why you started fishing in the first place. Someone who takes you back to the excitement that hooked you so many years ago; someone that not only wants to be a good angler but also lives to fish. Someone with a free-spirited, pure passion for the sport and a willingness to push boundaries and break though that secret unwritten code of what an angler is supposed to be. Someone that takes you all the way back to the beginning, so many years ago - that first spark, the first fish, the first memory of what would become a lifelong quest.
Someone that…Well, I could go on and on.
Few things in my fishing career are as rewarding as sharing a day on the water with 13 year old Gabe. I first met Gabe about 5 years ago while working the counter at Gorge Fly Shop. You could feel the energy radiating from him like a solar eclipse that could only be handled in short bursts. Then, fishing questions shot at you faster than the gossip from a teenage girl, and five minutes later, your brain is swirling and you are wondering what just happened. But you dare not try to soften the energy because you know that inside lives a dream that you recognize.
I first fished with Gabe when he had reached 10 years old. Accompanied by his grandmother we set out on what turned out to be a rough day on the water. Few fish were caught but it didn’t seem to matter. He was just happy to be doing what he loved. At the end of the trip I was worn out but not from the fishing, but instead from more questions thrown at me than a SAT exam. The following years I have witnessed him parading around the Town of Hood River showing off the day’s catch to all. He once told me that he was catching largemouth bass in the marina and in disbelief I asked him to bring me the next one he caught. About an hour later he called my bluff and stepped through the door of the fly shop with a freshly caught, largemouth bass. I felt like I should have known better than to have doubt.
The most recent experience was just a few days ago. Fresh out of School for the summer Gabe was ready to go and I was just as eager; Eager to fish, but also eager to spend the day with the young fisher who is becoming a young man. He’s growing up but his passion for fishing is just the same and I suspect it always will be. His fishing skills have improved greatly and challenge my own. We caught lots of fish and even discovered some new water. Early afternoon I said to Gabe “Your mother said you could fish till 3 o’clock…what time to you want to quit?” He replied with an almost demanding statement, “We will fish till 3 o’clock”… Another reminder of how it all went before grownup responsibilities somehow took over ones daily life. So till then we fished without any other concern except to get that next strike and land that next fish, before racing back to the dock just in time for 3 o’clock.
|Gabe with another fine Columbia River Smallie|
Some notable equipment (note: must provide your own passion)
Sage Bass Series Fly Rods – These rods tackle the big bugs and puts them on target accurately with ease
Ross Vexsis Fly Reel – Smooth and Light
Rio Outbound WF7F Fly Line – The sage bass line that comes with this rod is great but once I wore it out I replaced it with this outbound. Seems to be an upgrade and I like the dual tone coloring to help identify the head from the running line. Makes it easy to go to the best loading point every cast.
The Fly –Certainly not over the counter and should not be handeled by the faint hearted. My lawyer (if I had one) would most certainly recommend signing a waiver to fish this fly.
Greg Darling is a fishing guide and an employee of the Gorge Fly Shop