Growing up in Chicago, I went fishing on Lake Michigan more times than I could possibly count. I also went on my fair share of fishing trips to places like Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee and lakes whose names I can't recall in this stage of life. Fishing was and still is a passion of my bonus dad, and I'm always excited to share the few times a year we actually pull out rods in an attempt at catching fish. While I've never been particularly fond of the sport, I have warm family memories and a wealth of exposure to what it means to travel off the beaten path.
It's taken me some time to piece together and understand how my childhood experiences have shaped me into who I am today. Still, there's evidence of my encounters sprinkled throughout every day of my life. From the handful of supplements, I now consume as a 30 something-year-old to the drive for my kids to live a life rich in experiences, they all come from things poured into me.
So, it shouldn't have been a surprise when I jumped at the opportunity to take my boy's flyfishing. But I still found myself surprised to be researching and planning a family fishing trip of my own. Was I excited about fishing? Not at all, but I was thrilled about doing this new thing alongside my family and witnessing their response.
Fly Fishing in Alabama
The day started early. We did our best to get everyone in bed a little earlier than usual. Still, our best efforts weren't enough as the boys quickly showed signs of tiredness soon into our adventure. We pressed on, and things eventually leveled out so that we could move on with instruction.
Outfitted and led by Riverside fly shop in Breman, Alabama, our adventure carried us to the beautiful Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River. It's 70 plus miles and the only place in Alabama that you can fish for rainbow trout year-round! It should also be noted, the water is pretty cold. It's the unusually cold water that allows trout fishing here in the first place, as other water in Alabama is too warm for the species to occur naturally. So about once a month, the Sipsey fork is stocked with trout that enjoy a colder environment.
We had a lovely guide by the name of Dave. When setting up the trip, I was told Dave was a grandfather and "big ole teddy bear." He sounded like just the person we needed to work with our high-energy bunch. Dave was patient and never complained or looked irritated after untangling Junior's line for the tenth time in a row, making me a pleased mom.
While we may sometimes fail and lose patience with the kids, those we bring in to work with us must have more control. I never want an experience to go left due to a guide or instructor with a bad attitude. Dave exhibited the perfect demeanor, and although we had many meltdowns throughout the day, the boys were still able to learn because Dave remained so cool!
We learned two types of casts used in fly fishing; I mastered none while the boys took to the roll and side casts very well for first-timers. My husband also did well despite having to stop and wrangle kids every few minutes.
Why do we love this adventure?
As a mom that's not into fishing, Fly Fishing added the excitement I needed to enjoy the activity. Ace felt the same way, and he loved being able to wade through the water looking for his perfect, little fishing spot.
It also gave us another opportunity to practice our beliefs: adventures don't have to be far. We are big advocates of exploring our proverbial backyard. Fly fishing in the Sipsey Fork is a short drive from our home in South Huntsville, which is excellent for the family budget and helps the local economy.
We didn't catch anything, but we left with another experience to add to our family memory bank. That alone is priceless!
A few tips on a successful outing:
Be Patient: kids may get distracted or even become uninterested at some point. Being patient and giving them the freedom to explore will likely draw them back, making for a pleasurable experience.
Dress in layers: if heading out in late Fall/early Winter, be sure to dress in layers. It can get very windy, and you will be cold! It's much easier to take a few things off than stand there freezing while trying to fish.
Pack snacks & water: snacks make everything better!
Have the right gear: You don't have to stand in the water to fly fish, but it's part of the fun. You can likely be outfitted at the shop for adults and pre-teens, but for younger children, you will need to make sure you have gear that fits them. We used the boy's rain gear and boots for a bit of water resistance and only allowed them to stand in shallow water.
Bring a change of clothes: Even with waders and boots, getting wet is possible. Having extra clothes on hand keeps you prepared in the event anyone ends up falling in the water.
Remember to have fun: whether you catch a fish or not, the overall goal is to have fun. Try to keep that in mind, even if things become trying.
(not an) expert tip: Skip the super early wake-up time and go when it's pleasant for the family. My only regret is waking extra early to try and make sure we caught a fish
(click above to see the boys fly fishing)
Fly fishing in Alabama
Riverside Fly Shop is a family-owned business that offers guided excursions, gear rental, rod building, fly casting classes, riverside camping, and more.