Readers Cast


Neil M. Travis - May 7, 2012

I could start this story with the words, "Once upon a time," because it really is somewhat of a fairy tale, or perhaps more concisely, a fable. The characters are totally fictitious and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. However, you might conclude that one or both of these fictitious characters reminds you of someone you know or perhaps one of them might even resemble you.

Thus we have the tale of two anglers, fly anglers to be exact. I have assigned them the names of Bob and Joe, but I could have called them Jack and Tom, or Charley and Mike; the names are really not important since they are merely a literary convenience to avoid the use of X and Y.

Bob and Joe were longtime friends, and their friendship extended back to grade school. They were both avid outdoorsmen hunting, camping and fishing whenever the opportunity arose. Starting out as bait fishers, they discovered fly fishing about the time most guys discover girls. In time bait fishing was nothing but a memory as they devoted themselves exclusively to fly fishing. While both men were fly fishers, it's at that juncture that the similarity ends.

Each year Bob and Joe took off on a two week fly fishing trip out to Montana. The trip was always the highlight of the year for both men, and they were always eagerly looked forward to their annual trip. Each year they rented a small house in the heart of trout country and made daily forays into the surrounding countryside fishing all the wonderful trout waters, from the freestone rivers to the languid spring creeks. However, they rarely fished together because of the differences in their approach to the sport.

To say that Bob was passionate when it came fly fishing would be a classic understatement. He tied beautiful flies, he read everything that he could find on the sport, practiced casting during the off season, and in short he was all out for fly fishing. Joe enjoyed fly fishing but he was as indifferent about it as Bob was passionate. He tied flies but they were more working class flies that were tied to catch fish and not something that you would frame. He read an occasional article about fly fishing and he practiced his fly casting when he was fishing. In short he was the direct antithesis of his angling partner.

Bob was always up before the sun, even when he was planning on fishing some nearby water. He would join the truckers at the local truck stop where he would fortify himself with a hearty breakfast; get his thermos filled with coffee, and pick up a sandwich and perhaps a pastry for lunch. Then, as the first light of dawn broke over the mountains Bob would be somewhere fishing.

About 7 o'clock Joe would just be thinking about leaving his warm bed, and it was normally about 8 o'clock before you could find him headed out for the local café to partake of a leisurely breakfast. Over the years he had become somewhat of a fixture at the café during his two week sojourn in this small town and he would normally spend at least an hour eating his breakfast and conversing with the waitress and several of the locals. By the time Joe arrived at the stream Bob had already been fishing for several hours.

Joe would fish for a couple hours and then take a break for lunch. If the fish were feeding Bob would often skip lunch or eat a sandwich while standing in the stream. Joe would eat a leisurely lunch and sometimes even take a nap. Then he would fish until around 4 o'clock and then he would head back into town to get ready to go out to eat. Bob would stay out and fish until it was too dark to see. On his way home he would stop in the all night diner at the truck stop for his evening meal. The next day would be a repeat of the previous day for both anglers.

Now Bob could never understand why Joe did not spend more time fishing, and Joe could never understand why Bob did nothing but fish for two weeks. Each angler returned home satisfied with the experience and each year found them back doing the same thing.

If there is a moral to this fable it's that fly fishing attracts all kind of anglers, from the serious to the laid-back. Who's right? Both of them, and that's the beauty of it.

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