As a kid, the only fishing I did was with a bamboo pole from the end of a dock on Lake Chautauqua. Most often, we just walked to the end of the road on a cool summer day. (Hot summer days found us IN the lake.) I thought it was terrific fun. The night before, we would soak the lawn with the hose, then wait for the nightcrawlers to make their way to the surface. In the light of our flashlights, we’d see that little glint – that little reflection off the slimy fat bodies. We’d nab one when about half of its body was out of the hole. You had to hold on just tight enough to keep them from retreating back. Eventually, they would relax and slide easily out of the hole and we’d toss them into the coffee can with a little garden soil.
Next morning, it was off to the lake with our poles, the worms, and a bucket to bring back our catch. It was through fishing that I first became aware of the process of learning. I can remember making mental notes about just what the bobber needed to be doing before I should pull… and just what direction I should pull to make sure I caught the hook in the mouth of the fish.
Sometimes we would go over to my grandpa’s house at night to fish; he lived right on the lake. That was exciting, because it always meant we would get to stay up late, and we would get to watch grandpa clean the fish – removing the roe, which he loved to fry up and eat for dinner. (We thought that was gross. But we still loved to watch!)
My dad had a spinning rod and he fished some when we were kids – often at night. I remember the night he brought home a muskie. Mom had put the three kids to bed, but being summer, we weren’t asleep. We heard him come home and heard all the commotion. I distinctly remember watching my mom take this photograph as I stood nearby in my summer pajamas, barefoot. After he retired, he would go out with his friend Chuck just about every day in the summer on Chuck’s boat. Now that he is gone, I regret that I never went out with them. Chuck’s gone, too. Maybe they’re fishing together somewhere out there…
At the Nature Center where I work, Sarah decided to set up a fly fishing workshop and I decided to take it. I knew my friend Sue had done some fly fishing and I thought maybe we could become fishing buddies. We took the workshop together this morning, which included a little background on the sport and a tying demonstration. Then we got to try our hands at tying a fly, and learning a few tips about casting.
There was a lot of information in a short amount of time. I got a little frustrated with the fly tying, because my vice kept slipping. But eventually, I managed to create something that might catch a fish. Thank goodness Sue was with me, because she will be my mentor when we actually go out fishing. That’s what it’s all about… getting into the creeks.
Notes: (1) I’ve never seen the movie, nor read the story “A River Runs Through It”… but I plan to soon. (2) Sue tells me that fly fishing is a sport that was started by a woman, and at which women tend to excel – sometimes better than men… I need to find out more about that. Not that it’s a competition, mind you… (3) Many of the flies sold by companies like Orvis are tied by women in cottage industries… Interesting… (4) Here’s a picture of our instructor. His website is http://www.albertorey.com. (You should go there. He’s an artist, college drawing and painting professor, and fly fishing teacher and guide.