01 June 2009

The one that got away

We had been preparing for weeks gathering just the right fly rod, a light weight standard reel, and specific lures along with trying to under- stand the complex fishing regu- lations of the state. We had been walking several rivers to pick good spots for access and to spy any unsus- pecting fish. We knew right where we wanted to go.

It was to be our first real warm weekend of the year and so that Friday night we got our all species season fishing licenses. It might as well have been our first driving license because we were so giddy about it.

Early Saturday we packed a lunch of homemade hummus, spicy tortilla chips, pulled BBQ pork, and fresh bakery bread into the cooler we would surely be bringing home fish inside. We included a few Heinekens and were good to go.

The weatherman did not disappoint and soon we were casting freely into a nice pool at a river’s bend on an empty river bank basking in the sun. Forty minutes had passed with no nibbles but we were having a great time none the less.

Then it was over.

“Scott” was outfitted in full fisherman garb: chest high waders, special vest, baseball cap, and tackle box. I notice him walking down the trail sans rod. He talks a little bit to my friend before approaching and tells me that my whole set up is wrong but that he can help. He also says he’s been fishing this hole for five years. The guy is surely 20 years our senior so we allow his sage advice out of politeness.

He is giving us instructions when our other rod gets snagged on a small limb in the bottom of the river. Scott immediately reaches for it and starts to yank while calling back to us orders on how to change my lure arrangement. He tells us to never leave a line in the water and how he’d been fishing that hole for five years.

&*$#^* C R A C K !

My friend’s rod is in two pieces; Scott with a dumbfounded surprised look on his face, now apologizing profusely. My friend goes to the water’s edge to inspect the damage and Scott pulls only on the line now to snap off the snagged portion. (Note that in our following fishing expeditions while we have infrequently snagged a limb, we’ve always been able to retrieve our line and rods intact.)

One pole down.

We’re not sure what to do next. It was an accident surely but the rod is destroyed, our fishing weekend over. Scott spies the ORVIS stamp and starts apologizing more realizing the damage to us was more than to just a $20 dollar rod. He insists on helping with the set up of my lure and we allow this as a way for him to save face. He chats away the whole time respacing my weights, moving the bobber, tying on a smaller hook, poo-pooing the orange fish egg sack we had just purchased the day prior, and telling us he’s fished this hole for five years.

Handed the pole, I am instructed to cast into a pool on the opposite river bank –where we’d been casting initially. My first two tries fall short and Scott’s impatience leads him to insist that he take my rod and do himself. I allow this out of politeness slowly passing him the rod glancing to my friend. Within a few tries Scott has landed in the pool though is allowing the lure to float too close to a downed tree and brush.

“Bring it in, bring it in, you’ll snag,” I say quickly. “Bring it closer.”

I am ignored. Within seconds he is snagged. He mumbles to himself and starts to yank on the rod to release the lure. I see second thoughts cross his face as he thinks better handing the rod to me and then yanks only on the line. He snaps the line and our lure set-up remains caught in the river.

Two poles down.

Scott insists on setting my pole back together with goods from his tackle box, but now we decline and pack up our small camp. Only ten minutes have transpired since Scott came on the scene; Scott from Pontiac wearing a red Doug’s Tree Service sweatshirt. Fishermen be weary.

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