Elk hair caddis with an olive-green body.
My father’s favorite fly.
It’s the fly he loved to traditionally use and the fly behind many of his fishing stories from years before.
Whenever I would call him to promptly tell him about the big caddis hatch on the Bow River and about the fish I had caught, he would sit on the phone eagerly listening. His voice was full of joy to hear his daughter talk so fondly of fly fishing and his favorite fly.
“It’s Father’s Day, 2020. And it’s the first Father’s Day without my dad.”
It’s Father’s Day, 2020. And it’s the first Father’s Day without my dad. Losing my father suddenly this year during a pandemic and all the dreadful things that surrounded that was beyond difficult. The profound loss has been one of the most heart crushing things I have had to endure in my life.
I often think back to my childhood, spending countless hours on the river behind our acreage catching grasshoppers with my brother as my dad fished. I would ask him if I could try casting his fly rod, a request he never denied. My dad always liked to inform everyone how I was a ‘natural’ at casting.
As I wade back through those memories, I find myself looking at my own son. I observe myself doing those exact same things with my almost 4 year-old, watching him search for bugs on the riverbank as I fish. I watch my husband, Brendan, call Lochlan over to cast with him, laughing naturally as he ducks from Lochlan’s flailing rod and line. I note the paternal pride in his eyes as Lochlan keeps trying to perfect his cast, doing things very much his own way because that’s what little kids do.
I have recognized this look of pride with Brendan before, watching for years as he led his first-born son, my step son Matteo, through flowing rivers and adventures in life. Now Matteo is a teenager, tying on his own flies and doing his own fishing, always excited to call Brendan and tell him all about his big catch from that day’s adventure. It’s like I would do with my dad, not long ago. It’s the extraordinary power of a bond between a father and his kids, a proud loving bond that lasts a lifetime. My kids are fortunate to have this; I was fortunate to have this.
“As I wade back through those memories, I find myself looking at my own son.”
I promptly stop my casting and place my rod under my arm, reaching for my camera that is carefully hanging off my shoulder. I turn to take a photo of Brendan and Lochlan, as I have done many times before.
This time, I make sure to snap a few extra photos, freezing the moment in time. It’s a heartfelt moment I know I will look back on as our kids are grown. This photo will be a fond memory that will bring a smile to my face and a reminder of my own father as I stand in the water, tying on another elk hair caddis with an olive-green body.
Amber is a photographer and outdoor enthusiast from Calgary, Alberta. She spends majority of her time on the river with either a fly rod or camera in hand. Amber grew up fly fishing and later sparked the love for the sport again when she met her now husband, Brendan Toner. Together they are Ambassadors for Redington and have spent over 10 years exploring waters in their own backyard and around the world. They strive to pass on their love for fly fishing and the outdoors to their son’s Matteo and Lochlan, capturing their many outdoors adventures along the way.