October 27th, 1997
Yellow-Jacket or Me and Joe
Let's hear it for "Joe Average;" Hurray! Joe, this column is to you,
about you, and for you, and to all fly fishers like you. We didn't really meet,
Joe and I, last weekend, we were fishing across the river from each other.
He arrived late, most of the action had passed. The tide had turned and the
salmon had retreated with it. Looked like it might rain; Joe had on a yellow
rain jacket, that's how I noticed him.
Till next week, remember ...
I was casting a #2 fly for chum salmon; eight weight rod, sinking-tip line,
lots of backing. About two good pumps and my line snaked out the
necessary fifty feet, or so, to the desired location. Not so for Joe. He would
make about ten half-circle flails with, what appeared to be a very soft fly rod,
and manage about thirty feet. I watched him for about a half an hour. He
never got any better, don't think he was trying to. He was fishing!
Was he a good caster? Nope. Did he get the job done? You tell me; he
caught a salmon! Did he fight it with great finesse? You gotta be kidding ...
Did he land it? Sure as heck did, if you could call it that. He got it up on
shore and smashed its head in with a rock! But, that's not the point here. He
did all of the necessary things to be a "fly fisherman." Bought a license (I
presume), got the things together he would need to catch salmon, crawled
off the couch and drove there (forget the rain), walked out to the river and
took his chances.
Did anyone ask him for casting lessons, don't think so? But, they did
want to know what fly he was using. They did want to know how deep he was
fishing. They did congratulate him on the nice fish. He was a hero for the
moment. So, again, lets hear it for 'Joe' and all the rest of the 'Joes' out
Is that what fly fishing is all about? No fancy fly vest? None of the
expensive rods and reels? Never took a casting lesson, nor wanted to? Just
doing his thing his way? I hope so. I hope that is exactly what it is now, and
will continue to be. It is from these ranks that the sport grows. It is from this
entry level that develop those who go on to improve the sport; who breathe
life into a recreation which is threatened from all quarters.
Did I go over and offer to 'help him with his casting'? Not a chance.
Would I if he had asked? Of course, we all would have. But, he didn't ask, I
didn't offer; he went home with a salmon, I didn't.
Hurray for 'Joe'! ~ JC