Ty Churchwell


There is innate wonder in a boy, in any boy. We look at a mountain and wonder if it can be conquered. We see an old oak tree and wonder how high we can climb. For whatever reason, boys just need to be the masters of their environment, to be victorious over challenges.

As we approached Hermosa Creek for our first day of fishing, I could see the wonder in this boy’s eyes. It was unstoppable and his attention was not on the trail at our feet. A creek lay off to our right and it was surely loaded with trout, hungry trout. 

Alex is the son of my childhood best friend and I adore him. Actually, both of them. He is his dad.  In him I see that toe-headed kid I rode bikes with in 1975. This would be our first day ever fishing together. Silently, I was as excited as Alex.

After a short hike, Alex and I found a spot alongside the creek to sit down and rig up his new rod, his parents going off on their own quest. Thankfully, I was assured his aunt and uncle in Denver had begun his fly-fishing career with solid instruction. It only took a couple of false casts for me to see Alex was well trained. There was determination written on his face.

It was July on a high-mountain creek in SW Colorado. The air around us was full of mayflies, spruce moths and the aroma of the high country. Just ahead of us, there was a bend in the creek below some riffles that bled out into a deep pool. A couple of small brookies shot up into the deeper water as we approached as stealthily as we could.

Had the bigger trout at the head of the pool been alerted to our presence?  Could Alex fool them to the surface?  A large yellow Stimulator was our choice, to imitate the moths. 

“We’ll give those trout something they can’t refuse”, I prophesized to Alex.  He agreed.  I pointed my rod tip to a particularly sweet spot and asked Alex, “See that spot there?  That’s your target, that’s where the big boy is.”

Alex sighed, ready, his hat turned around for battle. He stripped off some line, tossed his fly and line behind him and pulled them into the air with a pro’s touch.  After a handful of false casts, the fly was set on the water, in the perfect spot.  “Nice”, I said.  That yellow Stimi was not on the water for two seconds when a big brookie shot up from the depths and hammered Alex’s bug with hungry intention. In the blink of an eye the trigger finger was employed, the rod tip came up and the line went tight. 

He had conquered, with authority, and the wonder surely turned to, “Is there another, bigger trout around the next bend.”  It’s a wonder that will follow him all the rest of his days.  It does me.


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