The best years any angler will ever have are their first. It's not that during this time you're particularly good at it, far from it, you're pretty horrible. Most of your time is spent tying on a fly or untangling a knot. Your technique is poor, but you can't quite figure out how to fix it. Those around you catch plenty of fish with seemingly no effort, but you only manage to catch trees and sticks, despite trying your hardest. But, make no mistake, these are your best years.
I like to think that I've moved on to my teenage years, somewhere between fake confidence and insecurities, but I manage just fine on my own. Jacob is an old man, but he was born that way. My parents are infants, just learning to walk, and they have no idea that these are their best angling years.
While in Colorado we took my parents on various fishing trips, from small creeks to this particular day in Pagosa Springs on the San Juan.
I notice the mistakes and frustrations I used to have, but more importantly, I see the joy. You see, in the beginning, every single fish is the fish to end all fish. There's an excitement in catching an eight-inch stocked rainbow that's comparable to a seasoned angler catching their first tarpon. An excitement that you lose a few years down the road.
As I watched my parents catch these stockers in the midst of all their mistakes, I wondered why, as anglers, we take fishing so damn seriously. To an extent, we've lost the infant wonder and replaced it with seriousness and classifying fish as "undesirable." Ego, it's a silly human problem.
May we all learn to appreciate every fish and every minute spent outside, on the water, even our mistakes. It's just fishing, after all.