I was on of the guys on Road Prong Friday afternoon. I took my old man up there, and almost killed him on the mile walk to the fourth bridge. We had a pretty slow start, as there were two guys had just fished the water ahead of us. As it got into evening we started finding some fish and each brought a 7-incher to hand. We hightailed it down to the Little between Elkmont and Metcalf for the last bit of light and we each hooked big browns right next to each other. I got a good look at the old man's fish before it broke his tippet and that ole boy had to be 16-18 inches. I hooked a big one right after that, but I guess I had gotten a little too used to hoisting brookies out of the water, because I horsed the fish a little too much and pulled the fly out of his mouth after he ran to the bottom of the pool. Driving back toward Maryville in the dark I saw a good-sized, healthy looking bear drag itself out of the little river, run through my headlights, and the scale the cliff next to the road. He stopped halfway up and looked back over his shoulder to make sure we weren't chasing him, and he looked like Spiderman clinging to that slope. Fantastic end to a great day.
I love fishing with the old man, but things have changed. He commented on the way back to the truck from Road Prong how our roles had reversed in fishing. I'm 32 and he's 57. He couldn't see the 7X tippet in the shadows well-enough to tie his own flies on, so he reluctantly asked me to help him. I carried water for him to drink. I walked behind him on the trail so that we would go at his pace. I held his rod when he needed both hands on the rocks. And I started thinking, by the time my boys are old enough to keep up with me, I won't be able to keep up with them
Life is hard. But it's a lot harder if you're stupid.