Lochlan had a brief interest in photography from age 2-3 and insisted on taking photos of all of my fish.

There’s Nothing Better Than This

When I became a Mom I knew I wanted my son to grow up with a love and appreciation for the outdoors. Likely because my own childhood was molded around being outside. I spent a lot of my childhood days fishing with my Dad or riding horses with my Mom. We were always outdoors, and I knew when I was pregnant with Lochlan I wanted to create some of those same memories with him. I wanted my son to learn a natural respect for the outdoor world and what it means to value that time we are so lucky to have on our public lands.

Fly fishing for me has always been therapeutic in some way. Whether it’s helping me work through something hard in my life or celebrating a new milestone with my son. Those soul healing properties that can come with walking along a river in the mountains will always be something I crave in my life. Honestly, it’s something I don’t think I can live without. 

Lochlan at 7 months old fishing close to home on Calgary’s Bow River.
A brown trout caught snacking on caddis.

While pregnant with Lochlan, Brendan and I still made the outdoors a priority. And though I was a bit slower moving once I hit the 8 month mark in my pregnancy, it was always worth the effort to get out there. It helped keep me moving and helped keep my mind calm. 

There’s a lot of worry as a soon-to-be Mom, coupled with a ton of advice (often unwarranted) from strangers. Those days fly fishing throughout my pregnancy kept me grounded. Now here I am with a 5 year-old, navigating those same rivers I have fished for the better part of a decade. I blinked and the years have flown by.

It’s honestly hard for me to believe that Lochlan is 5, an all too familiar feeling for most parents. Now instead of packing diapers and baby food when we go fishing, I am karting around Lochlan’s prized Remote Control vehicles or his favorite Monster Trucks.

Lochlan has his game face on as this fish took him for a run deeper into the pool.

One thing is obvious though, Lochlan loves being outdoors. I mean, it’s not like he’s had much of a choice considering it has been the main hobby we share as a family. Of course we still have our routines – Lochlan is now getting older and into more extracurricular activities, but fly fishing is still there. It’s still part of what we do together. It’s still something we make a priority. That’s the key I think, as a family who spends a lot of time outdoors, when you do it together you’re rewarded in so many other ways I had never truly considered before.

I knew this was the life I wanted for my son but I didn’t quite grasp the many lessons he would teach me. Lessons about patience and perseverance. I have learnt to embrace the chaos that is packing up a truck with two kids, a dog and my husband and I. I have learnt to take a back seat in my child’s outdoor discovery, letting him make observations and telling me what he is seeing around him. The biggest change has been that I am no longer focusing just on getting to the next pool for the chance at that next big trout. Sure, I love catching a nice big brown trout on a small mayfly pattern.

Photo Right – On one of the final weekend of the fishing season for our east slope streams in Alberta. This fish gobbled up my prince nymph I had tied on as a dropper as a last ditch effort to catch a fish at the last pool of the day.

Lochlan waiting to head home after an unsuccessful evening on the river. Photo by Paula Shearer
Lochlan age 2.5 looking on at another of Mom’s catches.

I used to think “wow there’s nothing better than this.” Then enter Lochlan, my independent and wild natured son. Watching him over the years grow and love the outdoors, like I did as a kid, has been an incredible blessing. I definitely screamed like a very proud Mom when he hooked into his first fish all on his own this year. He casted to, set the hook and reeled in this little cutthroat trout all by himself and he was so proud. Seeing that sense of accomplishment on his face left me with a feeling I just can’t put into words. It showed me just how much my priorities have shifted when it comes to fly fishing. 

Lochlan ready to help Dad release another fish.
One of Lochlan’s favorite things to do is drive his monster trucks through mud, rocks and water.

“He casted to, set the hook and reeled in this little cutthroat trout all by himself…and he was so proud.”

Finding rising fish at dusk while on a camping trip, our favorite moments of summer.
A super orange bellied cutthroat trout from a smaller mountain river. One of the most beautiful trout I’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

Yes I still love fly fishing, I still love catching fish. I still love the places it’s taken me and the life-long friends I have been so fortunate to meet because of fly fishing. I just love it so much more now that I get to see my son embrace it (and some days not embrace it). I am leaning into these moments with him because I know how fleeting they are. The good and the bad, the tantrums and the cheering, the aching back from another shoulder ride. I am witnessing first hand just how fast the days come and go. Watching time pass by as your kid grows in front of your eyes will certainly make you appreciate these moments you have together on the rivers you’re wading through. Here I find myself saying it again with a new found sense of awareness, “There’s nothing better than this.”

Loch casting his 2wt Butterstick with a lot of determination and quick casting.

Contributed By

Amber Toner

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 sons Matteo and Lochlan, capturing their many outdoors adventures along the way.



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