AN ODE TO MINDFUL NEGLECT: THANK YOU, MOM
Mother's Day is really the time when we thank our moms for their mindful neglect.
You heard it right! Just as much love is found in letting your kid fall off a log and skin a knee, get cold because they didn't want to wear a jacket, or crash their bike because they weren't looking where they were going as there is in all of the hugs and peanut butter sandwiches and cuddles and personal sacrifices moms make everyday. Here's to the moms who showed us the world and made us stronger, more resilient, wiser, and better coordinated, because they let us make a few mistakes while watching over us with an unflinching eagle eye.
DECKED ambassador Amber Toner is not your average mom. She's a DECKED mom. She had just enough time between fishing and chasing her son around to explain how she balances being a mom, full time photographer, and downright fishing addict.
Where do you live?
I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Born and raised! Calgary is well known for its blue ribbon trout fishery, the Bow River which is a 5 minute drive from my house.
How long have you been fly fishing?
I started fly fishing as a kid with my Dad. We lived on an acreage at the time and the Sheep River flowed through the valley behind our house. It was a pretty picturesque place! My Dad would take my brother and I down to the river and let us cast his fly rod from time to time. That was my first exposure to the sport and I fell back in love with it once I hit my early 20’s. Now it’s been one of my main passions in life for the last 13 years.>
How many kids do you have and how old are they?
I have a son, Lochlan, who is 5. I also have a stepson, Matteo, who is 15. Matteo lives in Ontario but he comes home to visit often.>
How do you balance fly fishing and photography work with parenting?
Honestly, it can be a struggle at times. A definite balancing act. Lochlan is with me on the river a lot, he loves being outside. When we get out though I do a lot less fishing and a lot more parenting of course which has been an interesting trade off. It’s been cool to see the world from his view, though. When you take your kids fishing your days are a lot slower than when you are fishing solo but once I learned to drop previous expectations and let him guide the day it became a lot easier for both of us. With photography it’s still at the forefront, I do it for work but also because I love it and what better subject for photos than your kiddo releasing a trout or watching him drive his prized monster trucks through another mudhole on the river bank.
Do your kids share the love of fishing you have?
For Lochlan he just loves being outside, he would prefer it over anything. Some days he’s super into fishing and wants to try his hand at fly casting. Last year at age 4 he caught his first fish all on his own with a fly rod, he was so stoked. I’ll never forget it. Sometimes he doesn’t want to fish at all and just wants to flip rocks and look for bugs. I don’t force him into any of it because I want him to have a positive relationship with the outdoors and allow him to forge his own path in that. On the flip side, with my teenage step son, he loves fishing. It’s been very cool to watch him build upon that over the years when he spends time with us and then take that passion back home with him.
You have a long weekend to go anywhere with your family. Where do you pick and what are you bringing?
If it’s summer time we are packing up the truck and heading to our favorite river on the east slopes of Alberta’s rocky mountains. We will load up our Griffon Pointer, Zetti, pack the DECKED and Leitner Rack with all our camping and fishing essentials and head west. Usually for that time of year we will bring a 4wt trout rod / reel and a box full of big foam bugs with the goal to catch Westslope Cutthroat Trout (one of Alberta’s native fish). Of course for Loch we are also packing his bike, hotwheels and monster trucks. Lochlan loves offroading everything and this particular spot we frequent offers the opportunity to do just that with our Tacoma. I can see him smiling just at the thought of heading back there this summer.>
Both kids and fishing can test your patience, do you notice any overlap between the two?
Hah! Isn’t that the truth. Your patience will certainly be tested with both, especially taking young kids fishing. Imagine a small spring creek with a big brown trout feeding along the bank on an epic drake hatch. You cast to it, the fish won't eat. Cast again, still no luck. Switch flies - trying something smaller. Have the fish finally take your fly but you miss the set. Sound familiar? Now imagine this moment as you're about to cast again thinking “yep I got this fish now” and your kid throws a fist full of rocks in the water. Of course moments like that are frustrating and they happen but with kids you just have to laugh stuff like that off and redirect their attention to something else. This is usually a good time for a snack break and a reminder that we don’t throw rocks in the river when someone is casting. A break means the fish might come back and also offers the opportunity to reconnect with your kid outdoors. To me, there’s nothing better.