All photos/art by Steven Vote
This isn’t a story about catching fish. No big-one-that-got-away tales to bore you. Instead, this is a story about the land, rivers and oceans, tradition and family.
It’s about retreat: the opportunity, as Trevor Bross likes to describe it, to step silently into the churning flow and drop into nature, to “forget everything in the world for that one moment.”
It’s a story that goes back some six decades, to when Trevor’s father, John, is a young boy.
He emigrates with his parents from Latvia and starts to find his place in his new country by fishing the ponds near his Indiana home. He grows up; marries; becomes an art professor; and has a son. This tight little family eventually ends up in western Massachusetts, and there John and Trevor take to the waters every chance they get.
There are lessons this father teaches his son: how to hook a worm; how to cast; how to release a fish; how to respect nature. Then the roles reverse: The boy discovers fly-fishing at summer camp; discovers the Deerfield River, too. And soon this son is teaching his father the way his father taught him.
There are lakes and channels to explore: in New Zealand, Canada, California, Florida. And Indiana, too, where familiar scenes open up like old family photo albums for Trevor as his dad points out all the places he loved to fish. But it’s the Deerfield, with its clean waters and the nearby Berkshire Hills, that always lures them back.
They know every rock, every blind, every moody turn of the river. They might just be able to navigate this area blindfolded. They’ve been out here in all weather; in the dead of winter; under a moonlit sky; in the early-dawn hours. “You get into such a rhythm,” Trevor says. “And then, when you see a fish rising, you get this excitement and time just stops.”
And yes, there have been times when they’ve stayed out longer than they should have. Like the time one summer afternoon a few years ago when Trevor didn’t see his dad walking behind him, and caught John’s cheek with his fly as he started to cast. It was a stunning day, and the two were already on the river, so John insisted that his son do the only sensible thing: He asked Trevor to cut the line off so the two could keep fishing. The fly remained in his cheek, but they squeezed another four hours of fishing into the day.
“Afterwards, he reminded me that it cost him $200 to get that thing out,” Trevor says. “I joke that I ended up catching the biggest fish of my life that day.”
The Brosses now extend across three generations. Not surprisingly, Trevor’s son and older daughter–Ethan, age 4, and Autumn, age 6–are learning to fish and learning about the Deerfield. (And someday soon, baby Adele will, too.) “When I look back at all the time my dad spent with me fishing, I realize how blessed I was,” Trevor says. Then he adds something he knows as well as anyone: “That’s something I can share with my kids for a lifetime.”
Click here for a brief fly-fishing video on northern Maine’s Pleasant River.