Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

November 29th, 2004

The Cast System
By Dave Micus

"All men are equal before the trout," suggested Herbert Hoover, but, while a nice sentiment, it rings about as true as the old adage "anyone can grow up to be president." There is a not too subtle fishing hierarchy, and, like class systems everywhere, is cognizant to all but those who occupy the lower rungs. The fishing pecking order is divided into three basic groupings, with each of these having a sub-grouping, a phylum and genus if you will. The three major phylum are Commercial Fishermen, Spin Fishermen, and, at the top, Fly Fishermen.

The commercial fisherman occupies the lowest rung of the fishing hierarchy and is a convenient whipping boy for all anglers, some of which is deserved. The draggers (genus empty oceanus) who not only suck up every fish in sight but also destroy the habitat and the long liners (hog resourcesus) who are depleting the fishing stocks deserve all too well the scorn accorded them. But as a striped bass fisherman I can't get too upset over the commercial striped bass catch when the recreational fisherman, by not practicing catch and release, is likely killing three times the fish that the commercial fishery is, and the most vocal opponents of the commercial striped bass fishery are usually the charter captains, who obviously have their own fish to fry. I empathize with the lobsterman and the clammer (just gettingbyus), who are barely making a living.

The next rung of the ladder is occupied by the spin fisherman, with the lowest spot occupied by those who fish with bait (worm dunkus). These anglers are like raccoons; there are a lot of them around but you don't see them because they only appear at midday when the temperature is warm and the sun is shinning, making them somewhat harmless as they really don't affect the fishing. You can tell where they've been by the empty bait containers on the ground and the red and white bobbers dangling like Christmas ornaments from nearby trees.

The lure fishermen (fling spoonus) are savvier than the bait fishermen and therefore occupy a higher spot in the hierarchy, as there is some skill involved in the pursuit of their craft. They chase the sport with a zeal, and some even spend more for their supercharged metal flaked boats than they did for their double wide. A few, such as the surfcasters, are very nearly on par with the salt-water fly fisherman, though that's never to be admitted.

The Fly Fishing genus occupies the top third of the fishing hierarchy. Adhering to a catch and release ethos, they despise the commercial genus, and, having spent thousands on equipment, look down their noses at the spin fishermen because they consider them lacking Úlan but really because they cast farther and catch more fish then the Fly Fisherman do.

The phylum saltwater fly fisherman (drunk longrodus) is at the bottom of the Fly Fishing genus because of their long casts, big flies, splashy presentations and boorish behavior. They drink more and bathe less than their freshwater brethren, and all can trace their bloodlines back to Edward Teach. They catch the biggest fish of the fly-fishing genus, which, paradoxically, lessens their status.

Occupying the next level of the fly fishing hierarchy is the warm water fly fisher (float tubus). These fishermen are the most pleasant of all, pursuing small pan fish and large mouth bass with the same youthful exuberance. They are most closely related to the Saltwater fly fisherman, but drink less and behave better.

Perched atop the Mount Olympus of fishing is the dry fly fisherman (trout snobus). They are easy to spot streamside, as they speak in tongues ("the Callibaetis pacificus is hatching!") and become apoplectic at the mention of weighted flies and strike indicators. They carry tiny fly rods to catch tiny fish, which adds to their exalted status, similar to the practice of celibacy as a sign of superiority by some religious orders.

This, then, is the family of fishermen, with all anglers falling predominantly within one of these categories. And though there have been rumors of other, more primitive, phylums, missing links who fish for alligators with fly rods, the evidence remains inconclusive. ~ Dave

About 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.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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