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October 16th, 2000

Wonder Rod
By James Castwell

Why does memory do such things to a guy? Like bring up little bits of the past and leave me hanging for the details that should go with them, drives me nuts. For instance the time I bought a Shakespeare 'Wonder-Rod.' Oh, I can recall some bits of the event, but not all of them. I can still feel the guilt (which I hastily covered by rationalization) that the tapered fly line was worth the extra price. I think it was twelve bucks. I had to talk fast, my wife was with me when I bought it, darn thing cost almost as much as the new rod. Why on earth do I remember that scene, I have no idea, but it comes up often. The rod was white, of course, and soon made it's way to the upper peninsula of Michigan for a week of 'brookie' fishing.

We did the whole nine-yard thing, station wagon, tent, sleeping bags, Coleman stuff and a couple of kids. I remember it rained for a week and the tent leaked as we (my wife's idea) moved to a new location every day and folding a wet tent is dumb. It makes them leak. But I caught trout. I fished tiny creeks and used at least ten feet of fly line. A short level leader with a hopper fly which I soon lost and regressed to impaling live ones on a hook from another fly I cut apart. The wife said we should eat fish and I caught them. I sure didn't need a tapered fly line, but felt better by having it. Made me feel more like a real fly-fisher. Good feeling.

One afternoon while fishing a two-hop creek lined with a few scraggly willows mostly on only one side I became fairly engrossed. Too much actually. The creek was about as straight as a dogs hind leg and at every bend a small sand bar and pool would yield a fish or two. My canvas creel was filling nicely (I was again using 'imitation' hopper flies) as I worked my way downstream.

Mind you, this is wild country, way up in the 'boonies' of northern Michigan. My fishing had led me far from the camp and the car. As I stopped to survey just how far I might have to walk back to camp I noticed the particular sand-bar I was standing on. It was kinda messed up, some coon tracks, a few bird prints, and the other ones. Other ones? Big ones! Bear tracks! How many? I don't have a clue. A few, some, many, lots, way too many? Enough! That was my decision, enough.

Back at camp I pondered just how much of a chicken-(bleep) I had been. I had not even seen a bear. But as I walked (?) back to camp it did occur to me I was carrying a bag of trout which bears have been know to be rather fond of. It also dawned on me that I had left a scent trail right back to my camp.

I chuckle these days as I recall I never mentioned it to my wife at the time. I do wonder what would have happened if one had come into camp. All trace of the trout remains went on the campfire to make sure there would be no bear-bait around camp during the night. I even washed out my creel.

It was a good fishing trip. Got lots of fish, had a grand time, and you know what? I have to this day no idea what ever happened to that fly rod, what size it was or whether the line matched it for weight. Did it cast well? How would I know, they had a rod I could afford and a nice fly line and I bought them. I had become a 'Fly-Fisherman.' ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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