Readers Cast


Neil M. Travis - August 1, 2011

Sysadmin Note
Part 3 can be found here

Joe explained how I needed to pick out one of the fish that was making the splashy rises and concentrate on placing my fly about a foot above that spot. I picked out a fish and Joe waded along beside me as we got into position.

"We want to be below the fish but not directly below him," Joe explained. "Below and just off to one side is ideal. That will allow you to put your fly above him and you will not have to cast directly over him."

I was trying to keep from shaking as I stripped off some line from my reel and tried to remember everything that I had learned during my casting lessons earlier in the day. I wish I could say that my first cast settled just above that rising trout and that it floated down perfectly and disappeared in a splashy rise. In reality that first cast was a disaster. I got the back cast right but I slapped my forward cast down on the water so hard that the fly sunk.

"Well now that you've gotten that out of your system let's try to actually catch a fish," Joe laughed. "Aim above the water and not at the water, and if you do that the fly will drop softly on the water."

I repeated my first attempt on several other fish but Joe continued to coach me in his calm patient manner until finally I began to get a hang of it. Finally I dropped my fly above one of the splashy risers and it disappeared in a splash. I jerked back and the fish came flying out of the water. Needless to say I didn't land that one.

"Now we need to work on setting the hook," Joe said. We waded back to shore and he picked up his rod.

"I'll see if I can fool another one and you watch how it's done."

Joe waded into place and made several casts before one of the fish rose to his fly. I watched as he simply lifted his arm and the fish was hooked. After the lesson I managed to hook a couple fish but by the time it was nearly dark I had not landed a single fish. As we walked back to the car in the gathering dark I was asking Joe when we could go fishing again.

"Well, I think we should spend a couple days on the lake. You can get some practice hooking and landing some bluegills and perhaps some crappie. What do you say I pick you up tomorrow about 10 o'clock?"

"OK," I said, although I was somewhat disappointed that we weren't going to be fishing for trout.

For the rest of the week Joe and I fished the lake every day, and in the process my casting began to become natural and I was actually hooking and landing most of the fish that took my fly. We caught a boat load of bluegills and crappie and one evening I hooked and landed the biggest bass that I had ever caught. When we tied up the boat on Saturday evening I was feeling pretty confident that tomorrow night that Joe would say that I was ready to go back to the stream and try my hand at hooking and landing an actual trout.

"Are we going to fish the stream tomorrow?" I inquired as Joe dropped me off at our cabin.

"No, not tomorrow," Joe said. "Tomorrow is Sunday, and that's God's day."

"Oh," I stammered. "See you Monday then?"

"Yes. I'll see you Monday."

As Joe drove away in the gathering darkness I began to realize that Joe was indeed different than anyone else that I had ever known, and it was a good kind of different.

Monday morning found me sitting on the porch at Joe's cabin. I was anxious to ask him about what he did on Sunday, but I was somewhat afraid to ask. My family had never looked at Sunday as anything other than a weekend day. It was one of the two days that my dad did not have to work, and we treated it like any other day. I settled down in one of the Adirondack chairs and started scratching Hunter's ears.

"What do you see?" Joe said as he gestured out toward the woods and stream in front of the cabin.

"Trees, grass, the stream," I said, even though I thought it was a rather funny question.

"How do you suppose they got here?"

Now that was a question that I had never thought about, and I didn't really have an answer. In those days no one taught about evolution in school and without any religious background I was really at a loss for an answer. Joe sensed my confusion and he picked up a big black book that was sitting next to his chair and began to read.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

For the next several minutes Joe continued to read about how God created everything from the grass of the field to the animals that ate it. He read about how God created people; a man and a woman and He put them into a perfect place called Eden.

"If your folks will let you come to church with me you can learn more about God"

Later that evening I asked my folks if I could go to church with Joe on Sunday. My father said he would have to talk to Joe before he would say yes. The coming Sunday morning found me sitting next to Joe in a little country church, and that was the beginning of the most important transformation in my life. Before long my entire family were seated in that country church every Sunday when we were at the cabin and at a local church in our neighborhood back in the city when we were not at the cabin. It was Joe's greatest contribution to me and my family.

Sysadmin Note
Part 5 can be found here

To be continued

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