As I was fishing from shore, a small, tow-headed
boy, about five, fishing with his father and
straight from a Norman Rockwell illustration,
shuffled up. He was silent for a good 45 seconds,
just staring at my waders. Finally he asked
excitedly, "Hey mister, where did you get those
I was fishing the fished-out Ipswich River in the
fall. It was early, and a slight, cold drizzle
trickled from the slate gray sky. While nymphing
upstream, I heard a large splash behind me. I
turned and saw a doe and three fawns that had come
down to the river. They stood attentively still,
then, as if by mutual consent, decided I wasn't a
threat and continued to frolic. I forgot about
fishing and just watched a mother playing with her
At a breakfast following an all-night fishing
tournament, an old salt explained how to learn
to cast in the dark. "Drink a martini, then go
and cast for a while. Then have another martini,
and cast some more. Then have another martini,
and keep casting. That's how you learn to cast
"Hey," another fisherman at our table observed,
"that's the same way I learned about sex."
A young man approached me while I was practicing
my casting in a park. We talked for a bit, and
I learned he was a fly fisher from Montana, in
Boston for college, and hadn't thought to bring
"Do you want to cast?" I asked, offering him the
rod. He eagerly took me up on my offer and began
casting, tentative at first, but soon lapsed into
his own rhythm, throwing beautiful tight loops
fifty feet out into the grass. After a wordless
ten minutes, he handed the rod back to me.
"Thanks," he said solemnly. "That felt great!"
and went on his way.
My wife stopped at a bookstore to buy me a present.
"Do you have the new book by John Gierach?" she
asked the clerk.
"It just came in," the clerk replied, "let me get
it for you." She disappeared into the back room
and returned with a book by Newt Gingrich and
handed it to my wife.
"My husband would divorce me if I bought him this
book," she told the clerk without exaggeration.
While riding to work on a nice summer morning, it
suddenly dawned on me that I had all of my fishing
gear in the trunk. I immediately turned around and
headed to Crane's Beach to fish for stripers. While
I was suiting up, an elderly gentleman approached,
and, noticing my slacks, collared shirt and tie,
said, "I hope you don't mind my saying this, but
you're dressed awfully nice for a fisherman."
"I'm playing hooky from work," I confided.
His face brightened. "Good for you!" he exclaimed.
I arrived at work early and logged on to the Ken
Abrames fly fishing site, "Striper Moon." A female
co-worker stopped in my office and glanced at the
"WHAT are you looking AT??!!" she demanded.
"Striper Moon," I replied. "It's a fly fishing site."
"Oh," she said, calming down. "I thought it said Stripper Mom."
We were fishing Crane's Beach on a productive
September Sunday, when one of our group had to
"Where are you going?" Mike, a legendary striper bum, asked.
"Church," was the reply.
"Church??!!" Mike asked, incredulously. He
spread his arms, taking in the beach, the ocean,
the feeding fish. "This is Church!"
Early in my striper fishing career, I was invited
to fish with someone who by all accounts is one
of the best fishermen on the North Shore of
Massachusetts. When I went to work my co-workers,
most of whom were female, couldn't help but note
"What are you so happy about?" they asked.
"I've been asked to fish with one of the best
fishermen in Massachusetts," I gushed. They
looked at me blankly. "This is like being
invited to the prom by the captain of the
football team," I analogized. "Oh," they related.
For some reason the fisherman and I failed to connect.
"How was your fishing date?" the girls asked the
next day at work.
"He didn't show," I said glumly.
"Men can be so cruel," one commiserated.
I decided to explore a small feeder creek that
was so overgrown I was sure that the large fish
in there were safe from all but the stealthiest
predators (like myself). The stream was perfect,
not more than five feet wide, but cold and deep.
The only problem was the over brush was such that
I could barely walk down the middle of it, no less
manage any kind of a cast. Still I moved on, I
came to a small, old stone arched bridge that,
though I've lived near here for 12 years, never
before had noticed. I paused beneath the bridge,
grateful for the respite from the overhanging brambles.
The curvature of the bridge, along with the water
flowing over the rocks beneath made the most unusual
sound; discordant but musical, a cacophony. I
listened, knowing that I'd heard this sound before.
And then it struck me--it sounded exactly like a
symphony warming up. ~ Dave
Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.