One late spring evening my son and I fished a popular spot on the Muskegon River without success or any sign of fish. The sun was coming down the sky and we knew it would be dark in a little over an hour. We looked at each other and in wordless agreement waded toward the bank. We considered calling it a night but agreed to try another hole until sundown. We drove to a favorite spot, climbed down the bank, and eased into the water.
We had chosen to fish a wide flat where shallow water ran swiftly over smooth gravel. The water there, clean and clear was only deep in little pockets and it was usually alive with trout. We had a lot of success in the past catching rainbows with Caddis flies casting up-stream and then allowing them to drag a little after they had floated downstream before pulling them from the water. In that last moment before withdrawing the fly, the rainbows loved to hit them and the reel would sing.
We weren’t even in the water yet and we could see and hear a feeding frenzy in progress, a Caddis hatch. I made my way up river a few yards and Kyle wadded down. The evening was perfect. Sun was just over the trees and sent a shining path up the water. My line was sinking and pulling the fly into the water. I cast over and over again false casting to dry my fly, using floatant, but nothing worked. My line was cracked at the end and taking on water. The fly would not sit on top of the water and it aroused no interest.
I watched Kyle downstream. The sun was setting beyond him. He stood in the rippling path of light cast by the descending sun. His line looped beautifully above his head and settled soft on the water. Every few minutes I would see him bend and release a fish back into the river.
The sun settled on the treetops and then sank beyond them. I drank in the beauty of the on-coming night and the sight of my son’s easy confidence on the river. Fish broke the water all around some slurping flies and others coming clean out of the river tail-dancing on top. I was wet-wading and enjoying the feel of the cool water running past by legs.
As the sun set over Kyle’s shoulder the moon rose near full over mine in the south-east sky. We stayed on the river for an hour after dark. Kyle caught fish and I practiced casting every one of my senses pulling in the mellow sweetness of a perfect summer evening.
It was a perfect summer evening even though I didn’t hook a single fish. As we traced the path back to our truck I knew that we had tucked away a memory in our hearts that we would still cherish when we were old men on the porch.
I have three other sons and four daughters. I am praying the Lord will give us many mellow summer nights on the porch, or under the stars, or by the lake, or gazing into a fire, or eating watermelon and sweet corn, or catching fireflies. And I am praying that I will never forget that just being together is usually enough.
Pine Street Parsonage
This little fella’ is Kyle’s first-born, Kyle Kenneth