A few weekends ago I was introduced to the art of
"Dapping" with a cane pole and a large dry
fly and have since had good luck catching Bluegills
and Largemouth bass.
The gentleman from a retirement home had a pretty good
time teaching a newbe' this age-old art and set up a
meeting with one of his friends, (from another "calmer time village") a
day this weekend to show me another lost art called "Doodle-socking."
Walter O. Parnellesii (W.O.P. as he calls himself.) was
gruff and ill tempered. . .but I did learn something about
flies in the ripple on lakes so I figured it would be worth
another trip to see what I could learn from his buddy.
I had learned this "Doodling" when I was a kid but we used
lures with double spinners on them. This was to be a fly
only excursion to show the benefits of finessing, not
angering the fish to bite.
After picking up Walter we drove about fifty miles to his
buddy's place to pick him up. Down the street from a
retirement home we pick up this fellow that has on a business
suit. "This is Paul the escapee". . .Walter says with a
(Seems Paul was supposed to go to a job interview at some
department store as a door-greeter.)
We travel ten minutes to Paul's daughter's house to pick up
(Older people have their own language when they get together
and slang doesn't cover the description!)
Meanwhile Paul takes off his suit coat, shoes and socks,
and then turns his pants inside out
and puts them back on so they won't get dirty.
(Note to self...do NOT EVER change clothes in front of anyone
after I reach the age of eighty!)
Now I have fished out of small boats before, so wasn't
surprised when I loaded up an eight foot Jon boat.
(I would regret the boat size later!)
Launch boat, cooler, three cane poles 18 ft. long, one
duckbill ended aluminum collapsible pole 16 ft. long,
and finally three men all over 225 lbs. NOT a safe
combination on any lake! I'm the youngest, so I get
the job of pushing the boat around the lake.
(You will notice I said around...NOT across!)
"Park us close to any open spot in the lily pads and
you might learn sumthin'," slurs Paul.
(In that oh-so-familiar. . .man-to-kid voice.)
Walter has already scarfed down one of my ham sandwiches
that he likes so well. I brought eight of them and was
wondering if that would be enough.
"Jab the pointy end of the push pole into the bottom and
snap it into the latch on the side of the boat, that will
keep us from moving around," Paul says while standing up and
stripping off his dress shirt and tie. . .while I grab the
sides of the boat, all the while mentally willing it to
"Here; tie on one of these Dragonfly Nymphs of mine, but
before we get back to the landing when we leave, give it
back so's nobody can see what we were using," Paul snaps
as he slurps down one of my cans of pop.
"Ya' always park the boat so's yer' facin' the sun. . .so
no shadow goes across the open spot yer' fishin'." He waves
his arm at me...knocking Walter's hat into the water.
"This fly has a really wide, and flat body....you tie it
yourself?" I asked this in my best "kid wants to learn" voice.
"Yep'," he returns, "I just use a steel washer soldered on
top a big hook, and wrap everything with burlap, and I add
a pair of pearl colored eyes from a kid's doll's
necklace," . . .like he is giving away a trade secret.
Walter is opening up his cane pole and I suspect he has had
a few nips on his trusty hip flask - his pole end is going
under water as he pulls out the sections.
(He had told me on the way over to pick up Paul, that he was
just along to supervise this trip as he didn't know that much
about this way of fishing, but I think it was just a way to
get away from the monotony of the home and go fishing.)
"Now ya' jes' hand-over-hand the pole out so there aint' no
shadow thrown over the spot and you let the bug sink to the
bottom. . .and LEAVE IT SIT!" Paul glares at me to punctuate
"After about a count to ten ya' draw the tip of the pole
into the air so yer' slack is
taken up. . .and ya' feel the bug on the end." He demonstrates
to me slowly.
"Now ya' just tap a finger on the pole so the tip jiggles,
while you raise it real slow," Paul says out of the corner
of his mouth like he is trying to be quiet. . .which will do
no good as Walter is slapping his pole around in the water
on the other side of the boat. . .still trying to get his
hat before it floats away.
"Under the pads it looks just like a real Nymph coming up
the pad stalk to the surface," Paul says lifting his pole slowly.
"Iffen' ya' feel any pressure on the pole ya' jes' lift
the tip up to drive the hook into the jaw, then ya' keep
yer' line tight and hand-over-hand the fish to the boat
so no shadow will spook any fish left down in that pocket!"
I sit and watch with my pole across my lap to see if this
really works and I didn't have long to wait.
A yelp of "YEEEEHAAA" from Paul and he lifts his pole almost
straight up and then pulls it back through one hand, (while
holding pressure up on the pole with the other) and he is
pulling a hook from the lip of the fattest Largemouth Bass
I have ever seen.
(So much for keeping quiet!)
Meanwhile Walter has his hat back on, the water is running off
it like we had just been through a monsoon.
Ten fish caught and released from various lily pad open spots
around the lake, (No more from the original spot. . .I wonder
why!) and everyone is full of sandwiches, and pop....(looking
for a port-a-potty or some-such relieving facility) we are all
ready to leave.
Paul lets me keep the Nymph that I had caught my two fish
on. . .but of course it had to be in my vest pocket before
we left the last patch of lily pads. . .only after a big
"Thank You!" from yours truly!
Paul turns his pants back right-side-out and gets all gussied'
back up for the trip back. After dropping him and his boat off,
he snaps off a grin, and a "Yer. . . OK kid!"
Walter settles in for the ride home, but he seems to be sulking.
"Paul must really like ya' to give ya' one of his flies, AND
tell ya' yer' OK," Walter says. I realize that Paul had taken
back the fly that he had given Walter to use.
"Here take mine, I can tie up some more anytime," while digging
in my vest.
"Ya' mean it?" Walter exclaims with almost a giggle.
"Just call it payment for teaching me another way to fish and
I will tie you up a dozen next week to put in your fly box."
I keep looking at the road ahead, trying not to grin of course.
"Hey...ya' know my sister kicks my butt fishing for Small Mouth
and Perch, on a hand line over the side of the boat!" Walter is
now giving me that toothless grin of his so wide his eyes are
"Tell you what," I answer. . ."I'll bring the sandwiches and
the pop next weekend."
Walter laughs and says "bring them" flies because we will
use them when we go with Eudora."
(The older generation has so many neat first names!)
"But you gotta' tell her that Paul tied them for us. . .
BOY. . .that'll get her tricked into showing us what fly
(Hope those hams are still on sale.) ~ By the 44 year
old "Kid" - John McBride