Posts Tagged ‘Love’

I have yet to find something that swims that I don’t enjoy fly fishing for.  However I do have two favorites.  Bass fishing, and Trout fishing.

Bass fishing is like the X-games of flyfishing.  You heave some big hairy looking bass bug, something that resembles a frog, or a mouse, or maybe even a duckling.  It is a gaudy looking thing – made of strange man made materials in colors not found in nature (or even in 56 crayon Crayola boxes).  A splash when it lands is just fine and may even be preferred.  Then you let your fly sit a while and see if anything happens.  If it doesn’t you start twitchin’ and yankin’ it; causing a stir and alerting anything in the pond that something is happening over here.  Suddenly a hole is torn in the surface of the water and your fly just isn’t there anymore.  You set the hook forcefully and then horse the fish out into open water so he can’t wrap you up in the damn lilly pad stalks that he lurks in.  When you finally get him played in, you stick  your thumb in his mouth and lift him right out of the water, get your snap shot and then drop him back in.

Trout fishing is a little different.  It starts by a quiet hike along a crystal clear cold water stream.  Water so clear and icy that the smooth parts look more like an antique window, with its varying widths and distortions, than running water.  You have already spent 30 minutes scanning the water and finding what bugs are floating in it that the fish may be feeding on.  You are staying low and keeping your shadow off the water.  Suddenly you notice, in a likely spot, tiny ripples where a fish is rising to eat tiny bugs off the surface.  The fly you have chosen is made from all natural materials – muskrat fur, tiny feathers – and is so precise and perfectly hand tied that you feel like you are casting art.  You can see the glass of scotch that sat on the desk in the fireplace lit room while the artist rendered this tiny replica of a real bug.  The fly is tiny, no bigger than a pinky fingernail.  It has to be,  that is the size of the bugs.  You gracefully arch your line into the air, careful not to let it spook the fish, and lay the fly on the water like a sleeping baby in the cradle.  There can be no disturbance of the water.  If there is, she will be gone.  You mend your line so the fly floats as though it is unattached.  Even though your leader and tippet line are thinner than a human hair, they can still affect the fly drift enough to scare her off, without diligent attention being paid.  Perfectly free to drift like its emulated brethren.  By the 7th perfect drift over the fish, without her so much as looking, you get nervous.  You know if the fly is one shade of olive off, or if the body is slightly too chunky, or the fly is slightly too big, she will refuse it.  But you can’t change now, it may be on the next drift that she takes.  You put yet another perfect drift across her and this time she stirs, gliding – smooth as a ghost – to the surface and allowing the fly to come gently to her mouth,  within centimeters.  When she takes the fly it is with a sip so gentle it would break your heart.  You bring her in thoughtfully and gently.  No horsing her, yet not allowing her to play herself to exhaustion.  When you get her to you, you cradle her gently in your hand, never taking her out of the water and as quickly as possible slip the hook from her mouth.  You don’t release her until you are sure she is fully revived.

So I have been thinking about relationships…


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Southeastern South Dakota, where I live, was having an unseasonably mild August.  By the middle of August the weather felt like the middle of a normal September.  Temperatures were warm all day with the evenings cooling off nicely.  The local flora and fauna were responding accordingly.  My five year old daughter and I had decided to do some fishing on a Saturday afternoon.  My daughter loves to fish, and the night before had been like an invitation to catch.  The sky had been clear and warm all day on Friday and right as the sun started to relent, a nice low pressure system had rolled in; bringing a little drizzle and a mating swarm of mayflies that, if they had teamed up, could have grabbed you by the shoulders and carried you away.  These things were gigantic, an inch or longer in the body, and were so numerous that your car would get covered with them at the nearby gas station when you stopped to pump.  I had never seen a spinner fall like this before and I had fished it alone and hard.  Fish were rising to these bugs and I caught many large ones.  The particular species that were partaking in the buggy feast are locally known as mooneyes.  Don’t feel bad, even with 20 years of fishing these waters I proclaimed, “Holy shit, I caught a piranha!’ when I landed my first one that day.  A google search when I got home revealed the real species.  These are flat, silver fish, with oddly upturned, toothy mouths and large scales.  The largest one I caught was nearly as big around as my net.  5215_1028855537454_1707303459_58241_7479688_n Anyway, I wanted my daughter to participate in this fishing bonanza.  While she wouldn’t be able to dead drift a mayfly look-a-like to them, I had noticed that once the feeding frenzy was on; these fish were aggressively biting anything that appeared semi-foodlike.  A minnow on a bobber should be particularly effective.  So I spent the half hour drive to the stream teaching her about the lifecycle of mayflies and the ensuing fish feast that would inevitably follow.  We fished for a few hours and the mayflies refused to breed and die.  My daughter was completely out of patience.

If you have ever been fishing with a 5 year old, you know that it can be a daunting proposition.  They want to catch fish, the bigger the better, just like any of us.  However, they would rather not wait for these fish to show up.  So you are left with a quandary.  Do you try to put them into some small bluegills, so they can catch many small fish quickly and eventually get bored with that and want to go home.  Or do you try to get them into bigger fish and run the risk of them not catching anything for a while and getting bored and wanting to go home?  The trick, in my opinion is twofold.  First, you embrace the experience for what it is; time in nature with your child and don’t be afraid to reel in and go look at the cow-patties and explore for pretty rocks.  It is the 5 year old equivalent to me sitting on the edge of a stream thinking about how buddha was right when he said life is like a river.  The inherent value in recognizing how truly unimportant our responsibilities can be and going to explore something new.  Secondly, and more practically, fish for the little ones without excluding the possibility of a wallhanger.

My daughter and I had been fishing on a prior occasion and she was catching bluegills as fast as I could get them off the hook and a new worm on it.  I had purchased a couple dozen crawlers for this particular fishing trip and we were going through them so fast it looked like we were going to run out.  I didn’t get to fish that day; I was too busy baiting her hook and taking her fish off. Despite the impending nightcrawler shortage I continued to put full, large worms on her hook and direct her to cast to the outside of the pingpong table sized area where the bluegills were hanging.  I thought there was a chance, with a nice looking worm and by being on the outskirts of the fishy circle, that we might pick up a big cruiser.  Sure enough, her bobber vanished and she fought with everything she had, nearly losing her pole in the process and, after screaming at me that this was her fish and to not help, she drug it on shore. She had landed a 19 inch walleye.  That is a fish that is nearly half as big as her.  She still talks about landing that beast and holding him and then letting him go.  The only thing bigger than that fish she caught that day was her smile.

Having the opportunity to share what you have learned about where the fish are and when, can be a very rewarding use of your fishing knowledge.  My mother and I had agreed to meet on dreary day at a spot near her house.  I got there about 15 minutes before her, and strung up and hit the water.  There was a beautiful seam that was easily fishable from shore right were I approached the stream and I swung a white wooly bugger into it.  I cast 5 times before Mom appeared on the bank behind me and I had gotten 4 hits and caught a beautiful dark gold walleye.  I was so excited that I immediately put Mom right where I was standing, pointed out the seam to her and suggested a lure (mom is a spin fisherperson) to her.  I then left to find myself a new spot.  Mom caught a couple very nice fish in that spot, including a chunky 17  incher.  I, on the other hand, didn’t get a hit for the rest of the evening.  I would say I got skunked, but the next morning she called me and thanked for the experience.  It seems she hadn’t caught a fish that size for a number of years.  I would call that a pretty good catch.

My mom is not the only other person in my family that fishes.  My Dad and my brother do also.  In fact, I recently went on a two day fishing excursion with my little brother.  Now this was not your average, everyday flyfishing trip.  My brother lives in Minneapolis proper and we were fishing in the city.  So there we were, a couple of guys in chest waders, fishing vests and hats, wondering the parks of Minneapolis.  It is a wonder we weren’t arrested.  After a full day and a half of looking for fish and only catching one small northern pike, we were close to calling it a weekend.  But lady luck had something more in store, for me at least.  As we were walking back slowly along a stream, my Brother spotted a nice little school of bluegills.  At this point it behooves me to point out that my Brother’s recent domestication and his career as an attorney have severely limited the time he spends on the water.  And in fairness, we were both pretty excited to see some fish after a good 18 hours of fishing with nothing to show for it.  Any way, he spotted the fish and immediately pointed them out to me by thrusting his 9 foot rod at them like a fencing sword.  That caused the fish to decide to move, obviously.  I chastised him appropriately and then asked him to again identify precisely where he had seen the fish.  And, with an absentmindedness befitting a wacky haired college professor, he repeated the rod thrust motion, completely spooking the school of fish.  When we finally located the school again, or more likely another school that hadn’t had our presence broadcast to them, I stepped back to give my brother a shot at fishing these fish.  He was so excited that you could visibly see it, and that doesn’t translate into effective flyfishing.  He managed to knot his line while trying to strip out to prepare for his cast.  He then took one step too many in approaching the bank and nearly fell into the water.  After getting his wits about him, he attempted to cast and managed to get the line wrapped about his body and his fly hooked in the tree behind him.  After we had utilized some moves reminiscent of a top to get him all ready to cast, he hooked his fly on the back of his vest in his backcast.  Needless to say, the fish had left the area long before he put a fly on the water and we came up empty.  But I did get a nice ab workout from laughing so hard at him that I thought I was going to wet my pants.

Anyway, my Daughter had lost all patience and was ready to call it a night.  I took my fly off and was winding up when she said, “Daddy, what does a Mayfly look like?”  I began to describe it to her again and she interrupted me, saying, “Does it look like that?” as she pointed to the water.  And the Spinner Fall was on.

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