Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All Grown Up...

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express." 
 - Joseph Addison

I don't know that I've ever felt older... more mortal. As I watched my 13-year-old daughter pluck bright native cutthroats from the waters of a small stream in the eastern Idaho backcountry, it became obvious that our relationship was changing, and that my time with her is becoming gemstone-precious.

It won't last forever. I can't will it so.

This young woman--and I swear just last week she was an awkward little girl who needed her dad every second of every day--wielded her tenkara rod with patient expertise. And she stood--consciously--a football field away from me. She'd staked out her own water and fished it on her terms. No need for a "Fish here, Honey," or, "You might try that run right there." This was her fishing trip. 

Call it sappy parental sentimentality if you want--watching my little girl strike out on her own with a fly rod in hand touched me to core. It was, all at once, one of my proudest and most desperate moments. And, of course, I enabled it. I encouraged it. 

I thought I wanted it.

But now, remembering back to when this same little girl was a clumsy toddler who would hold my hand as we walked the banks of the creek, I realized that my desire for my daughter to grow up and mature, to want to fish rather than just come along for the day, might have been a bit misguided. Those days when fishing was a secondary endeavor to a day simply spent outside were precious days, indeed. Days that ended with throwing rocks in the creek rather than releasing wild and native cutthroat back to the water were days neither of us will forget.

And as I watched my little girl--now a beautiful young lady-- eyeing the water and carefully targeting riffles and runs with the long rod, I knew this was a trip I would store forever in my head ... and my heart. And now, just a few days later, I've come to realize that fishing isn't the only thing she'll be doing on her own in the coming years. Soon, she'll be behind the wheel. She'll be headed off to college before I know it.

And I don't want to talk about boys. Period. 

When I think about the time we have left ... well, I can hardly catch my breath.

But as we wandered the banks of this little creek the other day, I was heartened to see that a sliver of that little girl I once knew remained as we came across a really deep run in the stream.

"This would be a great swimming hole, Daddy," she said, as she looked over the deep, green water. "And I bet I could I skip a rock three or four times across the creek right here."

I smiled and nodded. I eagerly started scanning the rocky stream bank for that perfect skipping stone--flat and round and smooth. It was there, somewhere. It always is, you know.

"Wait, Daddy," she said, putting her hand on my arm. She plucked the little caddis she'd been using throughout the day from the cork grip of the rod and gave the stream a long, critical look. Then she looked back at me.

"We should fish it first." 


  1. Oh man, you struck a chord. As a father of a daughter I know exactly what you're talking about. The good thing is that she'll always be your little girl, and she'll always need you (and vice versa). My daughter is 20 now and likes to remind me that she's going to be the one taking care of me some day, so I better be nice.

    Great piece, brother.

    1. Good point... she's almost 14, and I know that she's smart and thoughtful--I'm already very proud. I can't help but yearn for those days when her little hand fit right in mind. But watching her stalk and catch fish is pretty damn cool, too...

  2. Daughters. I haven't a clue, especially after five boys. But if daughters are anything like grand daughters - one of which has me wrapped around her tiny little finger - then you're pretty much done for.

    A touching tribute, Chris.

    1. Thanks Mike... she's a good kid. Just growing up too fast. Amazingly fast...

    2. NIce post! My girl is 9 and it was only yesterday when she came into this world. I guess we soak it all in while we can. Sounds like you are doing a good job dad!

    3. Thanks Steve... Much appreciated...

  3. I'm about 10 years behind you but this really hits home. I have a 3.5 year old and a 1.5 year old daughter and it feels like they were just born and I blinked and now they're where they're at. I'm almost afraid to blink again or they'll be off to college.

    1. Pete ... it happens so fast. Savor it. It'll be over before you know it...

  4. Wait Til some boy asks her to marry him...and she says yes...

  5. I love carp fishing madly and your blog is very informative and great . and all the picture in your blog is fabulous and every one like this who are intrusting in fish and fishing like me keep it up and keep sharing such a great and awesome information about fishing thanks. And carpbuddy.com is a site that provides lots of carp fishing news, carp fishing articles, carp fishing tackle reviews.

  6. Mine is twelve and a half. She is not sure about fly fishing. Sometimes I think she only sees it as the thing that takes her daddy away on occasion. I frequently offer to take her on outings promising to only watch and help her fish. Once she accepted and it was good.

    We are heading to Yellowstone soon and I hope to really help her connect to nature and to maybe spark an interest that solidifies her connection with me. Time is precious and so are they. Thank you for your beautiful post.