I’ve never been so happy to see a rainbow trout in my life.
It was the first-ever fish for A., caught at the tail end of an excellent camping trip at Silver Lake.
It was also very welcome proof to my 8-year-old son that his old man knows a little about fishing after all.
We were only there for a night, camping just a cast away from the deep, cool water. We fished a little the day we arrived, but caught nothing.
The next morning, I woke the boy up before sunrise, and as mist hugged the lake, we cast big gobs of yellow sparkle and rainbow PowerBait into the water and waited. We sat and sat, but no luck.
It was chilly as the sun rose over nearby Sierra peaks, and I could tell that shivering A. had his doubts about whether I knew what I was doing. I admit that I’ve laid it on pretty thick when it comes to fish stories, going on and on about days near Mammoth where I used to catch so many fish that my arm got tired from reeling them in.
A. was pretty quiet as we made our way back to camp, where we ate cereal bars instead of fresh trout for breakfast around the campfire.
Later that morning, we went kayaking on the lake, which I figured would be a pretty good diversion from fishing. But as we paddled not far from our fishing spot, we watched as a dad helped his daughter reel a fish to the shore. The girl couldn’t have been more than 4.
A. watched the scene unfold from his kayak, and then shot a look at me that could have frozen that fish on the spot.
I knew I had my work cut out for me.
Pretty soon it was time to break camp and head home. I figured we had one last chance. Getting A. back to the lake to go fishing again took a lot of convincing, but he reluctantly toted his gear back to the shore.
I baited his hook and handed him the pole. He splashed his way out to a big granite rock just off shore and cast his line. The waiting began.
In the meantime, I set up my own pole and cast my line. We sat quietly. I knew this was it. As I looked away and tried to think good thoughts, the fishing gods smiled upon us.
A. shouted, “I got a fish!”
At first I thought he was pulling a fast one, but before I could get out to the big rock where he was standing, he had already reeled the beast in. The trout flopped around on the line. Determined not to let this one get away, I grabbed the fish around the middle. It was the most beautiful trout I’d ever seen. We measured it: 10 ½ inches.
A.’s grin was just as wide, and he immediately recounted every detail of the catch. In his eyes, he’d caught a whale.
We made our way back to camp, with me carrying the fishing gear and A. holding up the stringer, proudly showing the fish to folks we met.
He was elated, and I was just plain relieved. He finally caught a trout, and I managed, just barely, to maintain a little bit of dad cred.