It took me a few weeks, really. After my wonderful
but exhausting time in Montana, I feared I was
burnt-out on fishing (much to the delight of some
of you kind folks, no doubt) because I just couldn't
get up the gumption to go.
I'd look at my tackle sitting there in the corner,
untouched since it was last used on Cutbank Creek,
Montana. It kinda stared at me, as if feeling
neglected. But I would think about fishing and just
get all tired and lethargic.
Now and then, I'd go grab a baitcaster and some worms
and go catfishing in Bayou Teche behind the house. I'd
take along Daisy, the black lab I'm sitting, and we'd
spend a leisurely couple of hours catching small catfish
and the occasional half-decent one until nearly dark then
call it a day.
"Well, old girl, it's a day," I'd say.
"Woof!" Daisy would agree.
But finally this week, I woke up one morning and said,
"I think I need to go fly fishing," so I drank coffee,
put on my fishing clothes and mud boots. I loaded tackle
and dog into the back of the truck and went to a pond.
Daisy has been learning how to get along with a fly
fisherman. Like most south Louisiana inhabitants, be
they dogs, fish, people or pelicans (who must learn
about that hook flying through the air on the backcast)
Daisy understands catfishing and bait casting quite well.
She is quite content to prance up and down the bayou bank,
then sit by me and together we watch my line waiting for
But the dog is as mystified by fly fishing as most of
the rest of St. Mary Parish residents. Being a water dog,
she loves to swim of course, and I have pretty much
trained her to swim behind me. At this particular pond
I like to put on my mud boots - otherwise known as Cajun
Nikes - and walk just a few feet off the bank. That way
I am away from the tall shrubbery that lines this pond
and I can cast parallel to the bank as I walk. She
understands fishing well enough, but this whole
line-whipping, nine-foot rod-casting business just
doesn't seem to qualify as fishing, so she constantly
wanted to swim in front of me, right where I'm trying
to raise a fish. I have largely talked her into now
swimming behind me just by saying, "Back!"
So I'm fishing along, picking up small bass with a
grasshopper fly and enjoying myself tremendously
when I notice my right foot is getting harder and
harder to pick up. It finally occurs to me that this
is because my right boot is full of water. I have
sprung a leak, it seems. This is pertinent only
because I went and got a new pair of mud boots,
and since the leaky pair had been a little tight
anyway, I got a new pair a size larger.
The next day I am at another pond, standing just
off the edge of the bank in the water. I have
caught enough fish in that spot so I go to walk
farther down and when I lift my right leg the
suction of the mud holds the boot in place and
my foot comes right out of it. I am then teetering
on one leg, reluctant to put my socked foot down
into the water and mud, trying to hold onto my
bamboo fly rod, lean down and put my foot back
into the boot, all of which is completely futile
and there I go, behind first, into the
I am a muddy, soaked mess, but you shoulda seen me,
you'd have been proud: This comical figure, I'm sure,
sitting in the water, one foot in a boot the other
in just a sock, a look of resignation and at the
same time pure fury on my face…but like a true fly
fisherman, like the consummate angler, I am holding
my bamboo fly rod high over my head and there ain't
so much as a drop of sludgy mud on it, thank you
Daisy, meanwhile, is watching all this from where
she is standing chest-deep in the water - behind me,
I might add - with her ears perked up and a look of
complete astonishment on her face. I look at her
and say, "Well, why don't you do something to help
me?" in true Oliver Hardy tradition, and she woofs
quietly at me, wades over and licks my face as if
to say, "This fly fishing business is weird."
I get to my feet, find my boot that's stuck in the
mud and slosh ashore like some creature emerging
from a black lagoon in pursuit of Julie Adams. I
put my fly rod down some place safe - forgetting
that my line is still out in the pond - and walk
back into the water to rinse mud off myself, launch
into a non-traditional dance trying to get my boot
back on, nearly fall again three times, and finally
succeed to return to a two-footed state of bipedalism.
Daisy is watching all this with panting fascination.
Now that I'm out of the pond, soaked but upright, I
am determined that a little fall is not going to ruin
my trip. I pick up my rod and take the slack out of
my line, only to find that during the debacle, a small
bass has taken my hopper fly and has been swimming
around the pond for the past few minutes doing
everything he can to shake it out of his mouth,
including wrapping the line around several clumps
of weeds and six willow trees. I must break the
leader to get my line back in and tie on another
We move down the bank a little, and I find a nice
little spot opposite the other side on a corner.
There is a small shrub overhanging the water here,
and I put my hopper right under it. It was the kind
of fly cast fly fishermen dream of, and the moment
the little hopper landed, a swell of water moved
toward it, a huge v-shaped hump of something
coming after the fly with determination. Daisy
and I stare at it in complete disbelief.
A black hole opened in the apex of the wake
and sucked in the fly without much fanfare
at all. If a volcano could erupt with all the
excitement and hysteria of a drop falling from
a leaky faucet, that's what the strike would
have been like.
"Oh, #%$*!," I said.
"Woof!" Daisy said.
I lifted the rod tip firmly, and when the fish
felt me on the other end of that grasshopper he
was planning to have for supper, he dove toward
deep water in resentment of my presence. My rod
bent into a question mark - which was highly
appropriate, I can tell you - and I thought I had
hooked a Russian submarine, then poof! The rod
sprang back and my fly landed on my left shoulder.
"Oh, #%$*!," I said, which translates to - well,
never mind, this is a family-oriented column.
"Woof!" Daisy said, which I can't translate, but
I'm sure is something akin to, "Nice going, killer."
Norman Maclean once observed that so-called poets
pontificate about little epochs of time,
milliseconds of forever, but that only
fishermen really know what it's like
"until suddenly the whole world is a fish
and the fish is gone." Like Norman, I shall
remember that no good - er, that slimy...uhm,
that fish, forever. ~ Roger
It's out! And available now! You can be one of the
first to own a copy of Roger's book. Native Waters: A
Few Moments in a Small Wooden Boat
Order it now from
or Barnes & Noble.com.
Roger will also be giving away three autographed copies to
readers. Stay tuned, for an announcement on the Bulletin
Board on that soon.