“Since when do you go fishing on the day of a wedding?”
My offspring. Five-feet, eight-inches tall, with long walnut-brown hair, dark eyes and an attitude. Tiffany, stood there with her hands on her hips. This, the girl who caught her first bluegill when she was two, who caught her first trout on the fly when she was five, who bagged her first buck when she was 14 and landed two steelhead the year she turned 17.
Now it was her time to walk down the aisle, my time to speak the words, “Her mother and I,” and if there was going to be a wedding, there was going to be a fishing trip. As it was on the day of my wedding and a dozen or so since, it would be on the day of my first-born’s nuptials.
“Since long before you were born,” I said.
That seemed to satisfy her. The Applicant had never heard of such a tradition and it took him a few weeks to warm up to the idea. A week before the big day, he announced his intention to join me on the water. He would bring his brother, Micah, the best man, an ardent fly-fisherman.
We could go fish the Crooked River on a stretch about an hour’s drive from the house, or work a section of the Deschutes. Another option was to hit the Metolius downstream from Camp Sherman and the Allingham Bridge. But the wedding was scheduled for early in May. I settled upon the Fall River as the venue for the traditional opener of the wedding day festivities.
Over the years we have learned that it is bad luck for the groom to catch a fish. But the groom needs to try. Therefore, we don’t tell the groom not to catch a fish.
Tiffany, aware now, of the tradition and its implications, was nervous. Once she asked, “What if he catches a fish, Dad?”
“Bad luck, Tiff.”
We met on the morning of the big day, early. For Sterling, the groom, I brought a nine-foot, five-weight with nine feet of leader and a 6X tippet. For the fly, I chose a No. 16 Blue-winged Olive.
“We have to go barbless here,” I said. “I’ll flatten the barb for you.”
With my back to Sterling, fly raised to the sky, I flattened the barb and then snapped off the point of the hook.
Down at the river, we chose our spots and shook line out of our rod tips. Sterling threw a pretty good line, waiting on his back cast for the leader to straighten out before he began the forward cast. He let the fly float on the seams, he mended to get longer drifts.
My father-in-law, his reaction time dulled by years without a fly rod in hand, missed a fish that rose to his dry. Micah, Sterling’s brother, caught an 18-inch rainbow on a beadhead nymph. A 14-inch trout grabbed a drifted nymph and I brought him to hand.
It is good luck for the father of the bride to catch a fish.
After 30 minutes of casting, Sterling tangled his leader and I offered to fix it before he saw the broken hook. “Want to try another fly?”
From my box, I lifted a streamer, tied large on a No. 4. A few minutes later, Sterling stripped the big fly in and a trout chased it to the bank. Too close for comfort. It was time to go get dressed up in slacks and shirts, tuxedos and shiny shoes.
When the ceremony was over and the men had loosened their ties, a toast was offered by the best man. And then another, by the maid of honor.
With glass in hand, I offered a toast to Sterling.
“Success in marriage and a man’s career often comes down to the details. If you remember to pay attention to the little things, the big things take care of themselves,” I told him.
Then I recounted the full story of our morning on the river, down to the part about taking the point off his hook and how it is bad luck to catch a fish on the day of the wedding. “I hope you get the point,” I said.
To the lady in the long white dress, my daughter, I said, “Tiffany, you can really make a difference in your husband’s career and in his future success.
“Again, success and happiness is about the details, it’s in the little things. And one of the best things you can do, before he goes to work every day, when he’s at the front door and you are there to say goodbye – before he leaves the house, remember to check his fly.”