I went fly fishing, or fly casting, or waving a long stick over my head, or whatever-you-call-it for the first time last week. Wading upstream, I passed another fisherman. “Any luck?” I inquired.
“No, but you’re here now; maybe you’ll change things. Nice hat by the way.”
“Yeah, maybe I’ll drown,” I replied. “If my body comes floating down-river, snag the hat. It’s yours.”
I continued until Mr. Lucky was out of sight, and found a shady spot to rig my rod. It took a good fifteen minutes and I learned a valuable lesson. I should have bought that damned $39.95 fly fishing book.
I waded into the river. Vultures suddenly circled overhead. Betting they weren’t after brain-food, I sensed they were keeping secrets from me, thought I was damned good-looking, or both. “Too late!” I yelled. “The other guy has dibs on the hat!”
And then it was time. But I feared I’d hook my hat and fling it across the river, catapult my glasses into orbit, or snag an eyeball, launching it toward unemployed catfish who would then prove free lunches do exist (the latter being the least of my worries as I have two eyes, but only one hat and pair of glasses).
Safety goggles? I wondered. I wouldn’t look like a real fly fisherman, but surely my cut-offs, t-shirt, and gimme-cap had already taken care of that.
Feeling like a real fly fisherman, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, I took a deep breath, drew back my rod, and in a quick but graceful motion … caught an elm tree.
Untangling the mess took a good fifteen minutes and I learned a valuable lesson. I should have bought that damned $39.95 fly fishing book.
I spotted a young coyote trotting along a cliff’s edge, high above the far bank. Probably a spotter for the vultures I thought. Five bucks says he beats the catfish to my eyeball.
Starting to get the hang of things, I stood waist-deep in the cool, flowing water, free of all worry. My mind wandered lazily … to thoughts of rogue snapping turtles, hungry gar, flash-floods, startled water moccasins, and angry fly fishers in eye patches. Sobered, I retrieved my line for another cast.
A yearling whitetail appeared on the far bank, stopping wide-eyed to stare. “Hey dude!” I called out. “Your father’s a sissy! And tell him if he wants to make something of it, I’ll be under the feeder east of my blind most mornings this November.” Startled, he bounded away. “Saturdays between seven and seven-thirty work best!” I yelled after him.
My top-water fly floated gently downstream as I enjoyed the crystal-clear river’s majestic grace. I relaxed, not worried about snagging submerged tree limbs, lake weeds, or shopping carts.
And then … WHAMMO! My first bite! I raised my rod to skillfully play the beast, but fumbled helplessly. The line fell slack; my foe was gone. I retrieved my now fly-less line, wishing a bad case of indigestion on the departed.
Schooled enough for one day, I called it quits and waded downstream. Mr. Lucky was long-gone.
Contented, I yelled over my shoulder, “I fear no fish, but you’ll soon fear me … unless that damned book’s on back-order!
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman and a river runs through him. Email him at email@example.com.