This weekend’s trip to the Shenandoah River’s North Fork is going on my top ten best fly fishing trips list. Not because of the unbelievably beautiful scenery. Not because of the abundance of smallmouth, fallfish and bluegill eager to take a popper. Not because the weather held for three days. No, this trip to the Shenandoah’s North Fork was about the blessing of brotherhood.
I stood in the crystal clear waters as the stargrass weaved back and forth in the current and watched the damselflies getting crushed by bluegills the size of my fist, aggressive and leaping fully out of the air. In front of me lay a great green expanse of pastureland and then abruptly, mountains covered in thick forests. The river was at the perfect flow for wading, sauntering between its banks. With me on the water were my brothers and father, Chris, Tim, Cliff and Rick. We fished the seams and fast current, the slack water and the overhangs. We cast poppers and roostertails, even neon green grubs. And we caught fish in honey holes that had us yelling out over a quarter mile where we were spread out, “fish on!” When we retired back to the farmhouse overlooking the river, we returned to our spouses and children with smiles and sore arms, and new memories of our time together on the water. Over the course of the next three days, we found opportunities to step away from the clamor of a boisterous laughter-filled family vacation, poker games and wrestling with the kids, to steal moments of solace in the river. Some of use cast flies, some spinnerbaits, but all of us had tight lines.
One night, as I came off the water, I found my nieces and nephews prepping a bonfire. I remarked, “It doesn’t get better than this.” My nephew Isaiah, proving the younger generation is indeed brighter than us remarked with such finality that it took me aback, “Yes, it does.” I paused and thought about it. I imagined one day standing the river, teaching my sons and daughters to fly fish, perhaps in these very same waters. I turned back to Isaiah and told him, “You’re right, it does.”