Whip Finish


Ralph Long - June 3, 2013

It began like any other spring day does; cool in the morning with birds chirping a serenade through your bedroom window. The kind of wakeup that makes you wish all mornings were exactly like this one. So, in a good mood right from the get-go I sat at the kitchen table with my first cup of black coffee and watched the sun rise. While sitting there I flipped through my cellphone to check the forecast for the day, and was surprised to see a high of 75 degress with no wind. Instantly my mind went to bluegills. I tend to not bother with panfish on the fly until I see a good solid warming trend, and this could just be the beginnings of the first of the year. The rest of the morning crawled by as I worked distracted on a few honey-do's, but all the while watching that thermometer creep up. Wrapping up the last one that I felt could be done by lunch, I headed for my gear. Grabbing my Far and Fine for no other reason but that it had not been used since winter, I made sure there was a new leader attached. It just felt right and a 5 weight would be all I needed on this trip. I quickly went through my fly box and grabbed a half dozen new-and-used Foam-Butt Caddis for the trip. Maybe a struggling cricket would do the trick on a warm spring day? I felt that I was soon to find out.

Wanting to eat quickly, I threw together a German Bologna sandwich and grabbed a cold beer from the fridge. In a few seconds later both were gone and I was searching for my wife. I nonchalantly started up a conversation in a casual manner, and then, probably far too soon, I working up to the announcement that I thought I would go fish a little bit since it was such a nice day out. My announcement was met with a smirk and a shaking of the head in amazement as she reminded me that she had already seen it coming and that she wondered why I hadn't gone earlier. A quick kiss on the cheek and I was walking towards my gear and wondering just how I could have missed that opportunity. And how I had obviously just squandered what could have been the best morning of fly fishing in my life. But now I would never know! You would think at 50 years old I would be better at picking up on those things, but obviously not. Note to self. Pay better attention!

It took me another half hour to get my float tube and gear around, and by the time I was ready to go the temperature was nearing 72 degrees. I made the short 2 mile trip to the local pond in short order, and once again went through the circus event of getting oneself into waders, fins and strapped into the tube. At first glance one would envision a very large 5 year old in a giant pool float. And on second glance one would clearly see an over-fed grey haired man trying not to kill himself on land while wearing swim fins. The local gang of geese even waddled by and hissed at me. But I somehow feel that in goose language they were saying, "Get a load of this one Murray. Five pieces of bread says he falls. Watch this."

I set myself adrift with little grace, and looking around I think all the young kids with their spinning rods felt they had just witnessed the launching of a freshly minted tuna boat. I quickly kicked myself away from them and headed backwards towards the shallow end and its lily pads. Having once been a kid myself, I would feel a tad bit safer far away from their spin-cast rods and Rapalas.

Turning to face the lilies, I began stripping line out. I was faced with a 50 yard half-moon line of pads which were the target of my intentions. Gaining enough line airborne I let the little foam and elk-hair cricket pattern touch the surface about 12 inches short of the plants. Two twitches later and with a "glurp", the fly disappeared and I was entertained by a palm-sized bluegill on the end of my line. I enjoyed the fight and then slid him up on my tube apron and released him to rise another day. Six casts later I was likewise releasing my sixth fish and smiling at my beaten and gnarled fly. "You're earning your pay today Glurp" I said out loud to my fly as I affectionately named it. Seconds later on the next cast it disappeared in another rise and the scene repeated itself. Forgotten were Sunday chores, the next day's work or the many trials of life. All that remained was the water, my fly rod and that little black cricket pattern. As I finned my tube along the pads catching fish after hungry fish I neared the far bank, where 2 boys stood fishing together. The younger of the two yelled out to me, "Hey mister, what are they biting on!?"

I turned my tube with a scissor kick and replied "Glurp".

"Thanks" the older one said with a wave. Then I heard him say to his buddy with a shove to the shoulder, "I TOLD you we should have gotten some of that Berkley Glurp at the bait shop!"

I was still laughing to myself as once again Glurp took another plunge into the swirl of a rise and the dance resumed. Yup, spring was here to stay.


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