It's April 8th, 2020, a Wednesday at 3:00 PM and I am at home with my 4 year old daughter and 7 month old twins. Fly fishing is a distant memory. My wife is at work, a Nurse Practitioner in the Seattle Children's emergency department. Between answering calls to the company cell phone, changing diapers, responding to customer emails, and being puked on, I day dream of standing alone in a river. I make a mental list of the things I would not do to achieve this. My list is short.
This is quarantine in Washington state.
This is flattening the curve.
After getting the twins down for their nap I pause to check in with Molly, my oldest child. You know it's time to do something when a four year old looks bored. No school. No parks. No riding her little scoot bike on the trails in the park by our house. She turned off the TV of her own accord hours ago, completely disinterested in digital entertainment.
"You want to go fishing?" I ask
"Yeah! I want to catch a fish with my fishing pole!" she replies, the lights turning back on in her eyes.
"OK, come on."
We both jump up and dash out the door to the garage.
The Obstacle Course - AKA Fly Casting Course
We're now in the garage and I dig up my little 3wt. Molly "helps" me rig it up and we tie on a beat up old fly I should have lost or thrown away by now.
I clip the end of the hook off and ten minutes later we're in the back yard. Molly is laughing hysterically. She can't hold back her amusement as I try to demonstrate how to false cast.
The Setup - Back Yard Fly Fishing
I've set up some "ponds" on the lawn, fake water targets made from old foam floor tiles. Molly cheers as we land the little fly on the biggest target with a satisfying thwap.
Her enthusiasm earns her some independent time with the fly rod. I hold myself back from trying to help as she violently whips the rod back and forth over her head, not quite understanding the timing of the cast. It's OK. She's thrilled and my heart is full. Man, allergy season must be in full swing, my eyes are watering...
Pack Your Patience
Our fun lasts until a giant rat's nest of line accumulates at the reel. Molly hands the rod back to me without a word, knowing dad will fix it. Dad fixes everything.
As I untangle the line Molly occupies herself by jumping into the "ponds". The familiar sound of stirring babies emanates from the baby monitor. It's time to go back inside, back into quarantine. "It's OK," I think to myself, "Tomorrow there'll be more naps and new and exciting ponds to fish in the back yard."
Tips To Make Your Own Backyard Fly Fishing Obstacle Course
Fly casting courses, or obstacle courses, are a fun way to keep your skills fresh and to spend time with your loved ones. Our course was really simple since my daughter is only 4. If you're with an older, more experienced group you can crank up the difficulty and incorporate trick shots, points systems, and whatever else your imagination can come up with.
I recommend using a piece of yarn or an old fly with the hook tip cut off for safety, especially for younger children.
Use whatever you have around you to make targets and obstacles. We ended up shooting for the opening at the top of the little slide in our back yard as an extra challenge when the fake ponds got boring. Something as simple as a towel on the ground can become a good target for the beginner. The smaller and more out of the way the target is, the harder the game gets!
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy it! We hope this little story inspires you to make the best of a tough situation. If you're still out there on the water, good for you! Stay healthy and stay safe.
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