Take the Time to Reconnect and Fish With Your Childhood Friends

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ryan-evans

Rainbow trout taken from the stream Ryan and I fly fished. Photo Louis Cahill

A while back, I watched the movie Grown Ups, which tells a story about a group of childhood buddies reuniting after several years of losing touch with one another. Watching the movie, I found myself reminiscing about my own childhood friends, and how much I missed hanging out with them. When the movie finished and the credits started rolling, I decided it was time for me to try reuniting with some of my own childhood friends. So the following day, I contacted my best friend growing up, Ryan Evans, and invited him to meet up with me for a day of fly fishing for trout. I had wanted to make this happen ever since I first became a fly fishing guide but for whatever reason the ball always got dropped and it never happened. We both agreed over the phone it had been far too long since we’d hung out and we agreed to set a firm date. I’d guide and Ryan would fish.

Ryan was my number one fishing buddy from middle school all the way through high school. We spent countless hours growing up hitting as many ponds and streams with a fly rod and conventional gear as we could cram into our schedules. We always had each others back when times were tough, and we constantly mentored each other in the art of fishing through our big egos. There was always friendly competition between the two of us, seeing who could catch the most fish, as well as the biggest, and we even got into some heated arguments from time to time about who was hogging all the good water. It never came to us exchanging blows or anything, we always eventually cooled off and made up as best friends do. Those years of fishing together were really special to me. I can still remember many of those trips if I take a minute to reflect back on them. They molded me into the fisherman I am today.

kent-organizing-tackleboxes

Organizing tackle before a fishing trip with Ryan

As we grow up and each year seems to roll by quicker than the last, most of us find that we’ve drifted apart from most of our childhood friends. We head off to different colleges, we move to different towns for employment, and eventually we get married and have a family. Once that happens, we find it hard to even keep in touch with our best friends over the phone. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make an effort to reunite and find time to get on the water with your childhood friends. It’s never too late to do so, and when you do, you’ll feel like you traveled back in time and picked up right where you left off. You’ll get to retell your favorite memories of hanging out with one another, you’ll laugh until your stomachs hurt, and most importantly, you’ll get to spend time on the water enjoying each others company, just like you did so many times as kids.

ryan-kent-kids

Old family photo found in an album of Ryan and I

Ryan and I never got heavy into fly fishing for trout. Bass and bream were the primary species we targeted. Rainbow and brown trout were always on our bucket list, we just didn’t have a drivers license for most of those years hanging out, and all the good trout streams were too far away for our parents to let us travel to them. The closest we came to a real trout fishing experience was fly fishing a seasonal hatchery supported trout stream 30 minutes away. The water warmed up quick in the summer so the trout only survived a month or so there. Although it was the farthest thing from a pristine trout water, I’ll never forget how much fun we had exploring that stream and how excited we were when we laid eyes on our first pods of stocked trout. Both of us thought that place was fishing heaven even though we didn’t have a banner day of fishing that trip. I don’t remember for sure, but I think we both managed that day to catch a couple trout a piece wet wading in our sneakers. One thing I do remember clearly is both of us feeling like fishing Gods during the drive back in my truck as we blasted my 6×9 speakers and 10″ subwoofers to 90s rap music. That was the last time Ryan and I fly fished together before I moved off to college and we began drifting apart. It wasn’t easy leaving my best friend and fishing buddy behind. I guess in a way it’s life’s way of preparing us for the hardships of adulthood and forcing us to grow up. I eventually got over the change, but it took years for me to get used to not hanging out and fishing with my boy every day.

I always was outspoken with Ryan that I would become a fishing guide when I grew up. We both dreamed of being professional fisherman and spending our lives traveling and fishing together. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for both of us. Somewhere along the way Ryan had to give up on that dream and get a job in the corporate world. It was always a big let down to me that Ryan had to do that because he always made me feel like I could accomplish anything when I had him by my side. That’s probably one reason I never gave up on the dream myself. I figured if I was ever able to become a fishing guide, Ryan would at least in a small way be able to live out his dream through me. I owe Ryan much of my success. Without all that time with him on the water I never would have developed the skills needed to prepare myself for the challenges of becoming a successful fishing guide. He helped me learn patience, confidence and being persistent on the water. Most of all, he was unwavering in telling me I was a gifted fisherman that had what it took to succeed if I just believed and stayed focused. I’m sure he never knew how much that meant to me. There’s nothing like a true friend that always has your back and keeps you moving forward.

Close to twenty years later, I met Ryan in the gas station parking lot outside of Ellijay, GA at seven in the morning. Ryan was notorious as a kid for being late, and it used to drive me crazy, but today, he was surprisingly on time, actually even a little early. That put a smile on my face right off the bat. Much of Ryan’s tardiness as a kid was due to him being a ladies man. He spent a great deal of time picking out the perfect outfit, choosing the right cologne and making sure his hair was just right. To paint you a better picture, Ryan was the outgoing Abercrombie & Fitch model while I was the shy bean pole kid begging for puberty to hit. I always joked that I was the third wheel hanging out with him and the girls. The only reason the girls put up with me is because they wanted to get a shot at winning over Ryan. Thankfully through Ryan’s female charm, he did manage to persuade a few girls to give me the time of day.

As we pulled up to the stream, I could see the excited eyes of a kid on Ryan’s face. I was equally jazzed myself and eager to show Ryan how much I’d learned over the years about fly fishing for trout since we last fished together. We quickly rigged up and made a short hike to a long pretty riffle that fed into a deep pool. I told him that we weren’t messing around and I was going to take him to a honey hole right off the bat. I then gave him a break down of where I wanted him to cast his fly, quickly gave him a 101 course on mending, and I handed over the reigns for Ryan to make his first cast. Despite it being many years since Ryan had picked up a fly rod, he laid out a respectable cast right off the bat. A few drifts later his indicator dropped below the surface and he set the hook on his first respectable trout of his life. As luck had it, the trout jumped and spit the hook, but Ryan couldn’t have cared less. He was on cloud nine that he had gotten a hookup and we were once again fishing together after so many years. A few minutes later, dredging a trough along an undercut bank we got our second hook up. This time, Ryan managed to stay hooked up and we landed a beautiful 18″ rainbow trout in the net. As his hands shook from the adrenaline pumping through his veins, and he gazed intently at his first trophy trout, Ryan gave me the most genuine thank you I think I’ve ever heard from a client or friend. It choked me up as my adam’s apple rose up in the back of my throat. I quickly responded with a quiver in my voice, “You’re very welcome my good friend, what a day”.

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One of the nice trout Ryan caught during the day.

We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our day catching up on lost time and releasing several more beautiful trout. I taught Ryan as much as I possibly could in one day on the water and he returned the favor by making me feel like my childhood dream of wanting to become a fishing guide was always meant to be. We gave each other a big hug at the end of the day and promised we’d never go so many years without fishing together again. We’ve kept in touch since, and I feel like I got my best friend back.

I hope today’s read will encourage some of you to go out and try to reconnect with some of your own childhood friends. Please do what it takes to make it happen, and when it does, drop me an email to share the story. I’d love to hear about it.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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24 thoughts on “Take the Time to Reconnect and Fish With Your Childhood Friends

  1. Kent – nice story to start the day with. A solid theme that great, as we do loose touch with way too many friends over the course of time. Thanks for making us think this morning.
    Have a great day.

    Brian

  2. Thanks for the lump inducing story. I know exactly how you feel, I used to catch bass and catfish with my best friend growing up in Connecticut, I left the US and moved to Europe years ago, and since we’ve both gotten real jobs and had kids and hardly ever talk anymore. Once you reach a certain age, those friends with whom you just hang out without doing any specific just can’t be made anymore. I’m glad you reconnected, I think it’s time I do the same.

    Oliver

    • Oliver,

      Please reach out to some of your old fishing buddies. Sounds like it will be tough for you to do since you moved to Europe, but you never know. Glad you enjoyed the post and hope it brought back some memories for you.

      Kent

  3. Kent,

    Great article man. Brings back some memories for me. Watching you and Ryan fish at the pond and learning new tactics from y’all while fishing with Chris Evans and Conor O’Reilly were some times I’ll never forget. We were the younger crew on looking. I specifically remember a day when Ryan caught the biggest bass I had ever seen out of that pond. I still occasionally fish down there while visiting my parents and pull a few out.

    Matt

    • Matt,

      Glad you saw this post today. You guys definitely followed our footsteps and carried on the fishing tradition in the subdivision once we left. It’s so cool that we all have a deep love for fishing and do it regularly. It was a great place to grow up and learn how to fish.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Kent

  4. This one’s… tricky. I’m not far out of college myself, but my highschool buddy and I made a point to get together at least once or twice a year and wet a line together. It just seems that I always was a lot more dedicated to things than he was. Don’t get me wrong, he loves fishing, but he’s not willing to push the envelope and learn new things (he never got past a spinning rod, and prefers spincast. Nothing wrong, just no drive), or go somewhere new. This all came to a head just over a year ago when we took an early August trip to the UP of MI. Some local gave us a tip on a pack-in lake, and he was cursing me and they generous guy out before we were half way there because he didn’t picture himself backpacking in, even to a trophy pike lake, It all came to a head on the 6th night of camping, when he insisted on leaving because it wouldn’t stop drizziling during the day, we (read: he) wasn’t catching fish, and he was cold. I decided I wouldn’t ever take a trip longer than one or two nights with him again. We just don’t see eye to eye, but that means I don’t currently have a fishing buddy to go places with. So it sucks.

    What I’m saying is, I’m glad you could connect to your old buddy. Good for you, man.

    • Dan,

      Sorry to hear that your friend isn’t willing to learn how to fly fish. It’s all good, you just need to find another buddy to go fishing with you, that’s all. You can still enjoy hanging out with your best friend doing other stuff. Thanks for the comment.

      Kent

  5. Kent,
    I absolutely loved your article! It made me cry to think about all the wonderful days with you and the boys!!! They were the best days ever! It brought back so many wonderful memories! I bet when people read articles like this, they probably think they are fabricated, but as we well know, every word is so true! Do you remember the time ya’ll took “another” new cooler down to the pond and when I came home from the grocery store y’all were so excited to show me the HUGE fish that y’all caught?!?!?…and when I opened the cooler that HUGE snake came up at me!!!!! How about the baby deer!!!???!!! And the goose!!!???!!!
    I can’t believe I still don’t have any gray hair!!! God blessed me with the 3 greatest sons and you the greatest 4th son! I miss you!!! Come by whenever you come to see your parents!

    Renee

    • Renee,

      You were the greatest second Mom ever to me. I wish we could go back and relive those days. Man did we have a good time. You did a great job raising those three boys. God Bless and thanks for the comment.

      Kent

    • Thanks Justin. It was emotional writing it. Probably won’t hit home like it did for my family and friends but I think the point of the story should hit home to most of the readers.

      Kent

  6. hmmm, nice story Kent. Nice pictures too, time flies. Unfortunately I don’t know a single other person who likes to fly fish. I do have a female friend of my wife’s who I am taking out to teach tomorrow (me, teach, lol). She has never fly fished, always wanted to, and said the last time she fished it was with her father who passed away… so shes very excited and nostalgic. Unfortunately I can’t think of a single decent place to take a person to teach them so we’re going to boring Amicalola Creek. I wish I still had a friend or two who had a fishing bone in their body and a minute to spare.

    • Hey Chris,

      I’ll try to find time to get out with you this year for sure. The Toccoa River is fishing really good right now if you can hit it when the TVA isn’t generating. Noontootla Creek and Cooper Creek is fishing really well also. I’d check them out when you can. The Toccoa would be much better for your teaching.

      You need to join a fly fishing club man. There are plenty of them out there and I know you’d meet some people that you’d enjoy fishing with. I do recall you saying a while back that you preferred fishing alone. Have you had a change of heart?

      Hope all is well.

      Kent

      • My problem with the Toccoa is public access, I only know of 3 spots to get on. 2 are too far and the access by the dam is a little too public for me.

        Yeah I don’t do strangers too well, my personality takes a bit of getting used to lol, so I prefer to fish alone due to lack of better options so far. I guess what I was trying to say is that I wish some of my friends from the past were like your friend Ryan and would appreciate a little time fly fishing as a catch up, I can appreciate that, and thus your story. I guess I used baseball and softball to accomplish keeping those connections alive, but with that gone I wish Brandon, Brian or Jared would like to wet a line sometime, that would be cool! Anyway, yeah would love to hit the water sometime man, let me know when you have time, hell I’ll even book it with you. Nice post…

        • Technically there’s four main access points. Think you’re forgetting about the one close to TN line. You need to get a personal watercraft so you can float the river and get away from the crowds.

          Yep, all those guys were all about sports not really the outdoors. That and you guys were too busy chasing tail while I was fishing.

          Kent

          • Ha, yeah too true…

            I got a fishing float tube for Christmas a couple years ago but haven’t have to cahones to take it out on a river, not sure why. And I have a kayak, I guess it’s the kind of thing I just need to do 1x and it won’t be a problem from that point. Fishing solo makes pickup and drop off kind of a ho though. btw Amicalola was blown out as I’m sure most rivers are.

          • Chris,

            Sounds a lot like me being nervous to take my bass boat out for the first time. If you don’t take a leap of faith you’ll never be able to enjoy them. Keep in mind there are people that will run shuttle for you. You’ll have to pay $25-30 bucks but it’s worth it not worry about the hassle of finding someone to go with you or even worse trying to hitch-hike your way back.

            I assure you, that there’s nothing to be worried about. You’ll learn quick and will be happy you made the effort. Keep in mind the float tube is great because its light and you can walk a good ways up stream before you drop in, float a mile, getting out and fishing and then hike back to your vehicle.

            Kent

  7. Great Article Kent. I was able to reconnect with my fishing buddy from high school this summer as well. We both still actively fly-fish, so I wasn’t really teaching him anything, but I did take him to a secret spot here in Utah to target some big Tiger Trout. It was an awesome time hooking back up with a good friend, and hooking into some sweet fish as well. Thanks again for the great message! – Joe

  8. That was one of the most genuine stories I’ve read in a long time Kent. Very refreshing seeing that there are not a lot of genuine people left in the world during todays times. I started thinking of my friends fishing when we where young hoping for one of those giant bucket mouth bass in our family farm pond. I haven’t spoke with them in years as our lives all took very different paths. Mine landing me in Western NC with a day job and guiding on the side. Kind of reminded me of the old Disney movie Fox and the Hound. Remember that one?! I’m sure your friend had a frog in his throat when he read this too. Awesome story about the fading art of true friendship. God Bless! Justin Anderson

    • JSA,

      Thank you for that wonderful comment. It’s so great to hear that it brought you back to those times reading it. I was hoping the message would be heard even though it was a personal post.

      Have a great evening and thanks for the comment.

      Kent

  9. Great story . I got to reconnect with my childhood / teenage years fishing buddy this past summer in W PA – it is actually my friends father . Since my dad never fished or hunted – he was my mentor. I hadnt seen him in 12 years , and hadnt fished or hunted with him in at least 20 . As we rigged up at a tailwater where he said a moster caddis hatch was coming off every evening – i noticed he still had the same fiberglass rod , creel and vest from years ago . He made comment on my Scott Rod , Lamson reel and Simms waders – and then proceeded to school me on those two bad knees that barely held him up in the current. It possibly could be the best trip i have had the entire year – and i will always make it a point to get him back out whenever i get home .

  10. Kent,

    This really was a superb piece, but I don’t even think the word superb imbues the right emotion I felt when reading this.

    You see, Ryan was also my best friend for 3 years of my childhood (and next door neighbor when we lived in Eagle Watch). I lived in Woodstock GA from 1994-1996 before I moved away for my dad’s job.

    I really looked up to Ryan. He was one year older than me, and the way you described him in your story did a great job of capturing his essence according to my memory. As you say he really was quite the charmer, always cool and always positive, and while I remember always trying to outdo him in just about everything we did, I always admired him. He had this magical quality where you hoped that he felt the same way about you as you did about him.

    While we never went fishing, we did play every game imaginable around our neighborhood — climbing the dogwoods in our backyards, golfing behind our houses, playing home run derby with tennis balls to see who could launch a ball further over the house; the games we played were limitless. It was the best 3 years of my childhood, playing with him and the other kids in the neighborhood, and I was devastated when I was told we were moving away.

    After leaving, I feel like I never made friends quite like I did with Ryan and company. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I was never quite as happy after moving away. I believe that event actually triggered in me a biological predisposition for chronic but mild depression that I ended up struggling with for the rest of my adolescence and a good part of my 20’s.

    Anyway, I had tried tracking him down on various social media outlets over the years as technology began to enable that, but never could find him. Makes perfect sense really…he was the kind of guy who was too cool for that shit anyway.

    If you talk to him again please tell him Trevor Terris said hi. I hope he remembers me, haha. :)

    PS. I’ve included a link to a photo of Ryan and friends from the Eagle Watch crew. I was the kid in the Charlotte jersey. Note the ubiquitous Mariners cap.
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/trevors-test-bucket/IMG_20151227_233313905.jpg

    Take care!

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