This post was last updated on July 16th, 2021 at 11:37 am
On a guide trip a few days ago I took out an older gentleman and his son to the river for some dry fly action. Over the years I’ve taken some very old fisherman, some over 90 years old and was able to get them into fish! So after half of the day with the dad not landing any trout I essentially told the son to go away so I could focus on catching his dad some trout. I watched throughout the day as he became depressed and totally lost confidence in his ability to fish anymore. At one point he stated “I think I’m just to old to catch fish now, this will probably be my last trip”. Almost fighting back the tears,That’s when I decided that I WAS going to get him a fish, no matter what happens or how long it takes. With only him in the boat I began inching it forward up a small side channel where I suspected some big cutthroat trout were hiding. Boosting his confidence with encouraging words and complimenting his casting, (which really was good for his age) he stood up in the boat and got serious. I instructed him to cast up past a little tuft of grass….moments later a 12 inch cutthroat ate his fly. With more vigor and confidence than I’d seen all day, he reared back and hooked the fish. He fought it for a moment as I quickly ran down stream to intercept it with the net. You should have seen his face light up. His son came over and got in the picture with him and they were both content as can be.
After that nice cutthroat they were ready to leave, however I wanted to get him a bigger one. I moved the boat another 5 feet up the channel and watched as a very nice 17 inch cutty came up and smashed his hopper pattern. He yanked back and we watched this trout start rolling and putting on a nice show. As I realized how big it was, I threw my anchor into the river and shifted the boat when I used it as a launchpad to get down stream to the fish as quickly as possible. This boat shift nearly knocked the angler out of the boat, but he was focused and recovered. After I practically dove at the fish with the net, I think we all breathed a huge sigh of relief as I lifted the net, revealing a nice cutthroat inside. The attitude shift and happiness that took place after that incident was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
We are all going to get old and start having a tough time with things, but flyfishing is one of those things you can do regardless of age. Sure, you might not be able to cast a 12 weight 90 feet to tarpon when you’re 80, but you can sure catch trout or bluegill from a boat with a little help. Don’t let your parents or grandparents convince you they are too old. A few years ago I helped a 95 year old man hook and land a close to 30 inch cuttbow. They might not be able to cast like a rockstar all day, but they can catch fish. If you need assistance you can always hire a guide, they almost all have experience in how to help anyone catch fish.
Take your dad and grandpa out fishing, life is too short!
Edit 7-18-17: A reader (Robert N.) Chimed in and brought up the fact that “Lefty Kreh, Joan S Wulff and other experienced fly casters of over 80 or 90 years of age, can lay out long, accurate and superb casts.” This is very true and I hadn’t thought of it. I’ve seen older folks and children make incredibly long casts. It’s so much more about form than it is about power. Thanks Robert for stopping by!
Summary: Pretty much everyone can go fly fishing. Age is simply a number.