Picked up Walter at the rest home at daylight and drove
forty miles to the most secluded lake I have ever seen.
Surrounded by big old pine trees, and with only four
cottages on it, sure looked like a dream spot to me!
We are met at the door of a small cabin by Walt's sister
Eudora. I don't guess ages well, so I won't insult her
by trying! Let's just say Eudora is a tad over fifty. (BIG
grin!) A very tiny lady that maybe weighs as much as my full
We had coffee that was so strong you could park a Buick on top
the cup of it, with homemade lady-locks for a pre-fishing snack.
Remember lady-locks....those delicate pastry tube things, with
some sort of sweet cream filling? (I'm showing my age again!)
I wasn't supposed to bring anything but myself, a cooler, (with
the standard ice, pop, and of course my baked-shaved-ham
sandwiches that everyone seems to like) and also the Dragonfly
nymphs I had tied up using Walt's buddy, (from last weekend's
outing) Paul's pattern. We walk down a brick path overgrown on
each side with weeping willow trees mixed in among the pines
to the dock.
Tied up there is the best looking Chris-Craft wooden speedboat
I ever dreamed about while I was growing up. (My liking for
Eudora went up ten notches!) I untie the lines and shove
us away from the dock and fully expected to turn and see
Walter at the wheel. . .boy was I surprised to see him
setting in the very rear seat!
"This my boat. . . my lake. . .and my skill yer' a learnin'
buddy. . . got sumthin' ta' say bout' it! The tiny voice snaps
at me while I scramble to get into a seat, as she fires up
the huge inboard motor.
"No ma...ma-am!" I stutter, still trying to get used to the
idea of this little thing powering us all across the mirror
calm lake at what seemed like break-neck speed. (Glad I put
life-jacket panels inside my fishing vest!)
We get to where she wants to go, and she turns on a Hummingbird
depth finder that I had not seen built into the dash. (It's
going to be a long day, Walt's into my sandwiches, already!)
"Here sonny, take this two pound test spool of line, and tie
your favorite weighted nymph pattern on. . .but don't trim
any line off. . .jes' tie onto the end, and wind the line back
around the spool." Miss retired Indy-500-wanna-be-driver tells
Now I have caught the eye of Walt as he has planned to pull a
prank on his sister by having me use his buddy Paul's fly to
trick her into revealing to us-HER favorite fly. (Walt hasn't
been able to get this info out of her for the last thirty years!)
I tie the burlap/steel washer monstrosity onto the line, and
then hold it up like I am seeing how it hangs on the end of
the line. Eudora sees the fly, and swings around to look at
Walt. . . and lo-and behold. . . he has the exact same fly
tied on a spool of four pound test-setting on his knee while
he watches a Crane fly over us. (Acting innocent!)
I think this little lady used to be a teacher. . . Oh no, not
a school teacher. . . a swearing teacher for workers on the
docks! (Man did she screech words that I won't type here
for fear of melting my computer keyboard!)
To give you the gist of it, she was very upset because Paul
never gives out his flies, and she knows this because the
last time Walt brought someone to go fishing with her, it
was mister "use my fly, but-by-golly-ya'-BETTER-give-it-back"
After calming her down from the thought about "two guys would
maybe make good anchors" we settle down for the hand-line lesson,
ONLY after giving her two flies for her own later use, (that
she didn't have to give back to me!) and a promise to tie up
a dozen of them for her,for later.
"You can cheat iffen' ya' don't know the lake with one of these
fish finders, and look for schools of Crappie or Perch on the
bottom." she evil-grins at me while saying this, in a way that
makes me motion for Walter to pass me his hip flask.
"I love fresh Crappie, and if they are a-schoolin' ya' ken'
catch alot this way!" she cackles as she unspools her line
over the side.
I have to agree with Walt on this one, she's cagey alright,
I never saw the fly on her line, as she had her back to me
hiding it from view.
"Iffen' ya' look at yer' line, there are black marks every
three feet, this will help you get the fly down to the right
depth if the school isn't on bottom." she stares at me with a
''got-any-questions" look that could fry an egg!
I get onto the seat right beside her and spool out line to get
my fly to the bottom, and settle in to watch her technique."You
jes' hold the spool in your one hand with the center hole between
your finger and thumb-so they can take line if need-be. . . and
have some slack TO yer' other hand. . .and hold the line between
your thumb and finger with the line over the top of your finger
. . .and then ya' jes' GENTLY twitch that finger ever-so-slightly...
till you feel either a tension...or slack if they bite yer' fly
up-from underneath." she whispers out the side of her mouth,
like the fish could hear her from forty feet below.
"Now when you set the hook, ya' jes' flick your wrist straight
up, . . . BUT, you gotta' be sure there isn't any slack in
the line, and jes' hand-over-hand them in!" she is really
concentrating now, and I can just barely make out that her
finger is actually moving.
"Now you kin' walk it along bottom in quick little sperts,. . .
so it looks like your critter is trying to get away,. . . but
only just about three inches, . . . and then let it settle
for a couple of seconds between sperts!" she demonstrates
while looking me in the eye.
I shy away and look to the back of the boat,. . . and see
Walter is asleep! Evidently, if he isn't going to see
Eudora's secret fly, . . . he isn't interested. (I hope
he doesn't toss and turn in his sleep, or he will probably
fall in, with his luck!)
"Now if ya' want to catch fish NOT on the bottom, ya' have
to use a minnow/fly or some-such, as it looks to be swimming,
and you don't do the walk on bottom of course, . . .you just
swing back and forth about a foot, while you twitch yer'
finger up and down as far as it will go." she grins while
holding up a foot long perch she has snatched from the bottom.
I ask her why she only uses two pound, while Walt has four pound test line.
"Call me Dory young man, from now on!" she smiles nicely this time.
"When I learned this from my paw', he just had twisted line,
like a chalk line, . . .with a heavy mono leader about three
foot long, and I had something take a fish while I was
bringing it up from bottom,. . . and it cut my hand bad,
. . . and because I was holding the spool wrong, it yanked
my arm out of the socket before paw' could cut the line!"
she frowns angrily. "So if anything tries that now, all
they get is a barbless fly, and some line before it breaks."
"Dory?" I mumble. "Would you like to get back at Walt - for that
"Paul's fly" trick?" I ask while grinning.
"Tell him you want to read his palm or something, because he
cut his hand bad recently using "Spider wire" fish line while
trying to get Perch on a hand line, and then he lost the whole
spool." I chuckle,. . . thinking about all of his stolen sandwiches.
"We'll save that one for later!" Dory whispers like a
schoolgirl with a secret.
We wake Walt up with the roar of the motor starting, and
we zoom off to the dock.
I had caught five jumbo Perch that I said I would fillet
for her dinner as a thanks for teaching, with the reprimand
to not forget her dozen flies to be sent to her.
She even let me look at her secret fly for fishing on
bottom,. . . a crawdad weighted with lead, and having a
brown raffia body wrap, with black horsehair legs, and
claws. I had to swear not to tell her brother, (and with
that promised!) she said I could return by myself and go
fishing with her anytime,. . . and maybe she would even
let me run the boat!
GULP! Oh, to be about eighty, and single,. . . what a setup!
I told her I knew of a way to troll a pair of flies
through schools of fish using a depthfinder, and she
said she would make me a batch of those Lady-locks
that I could take home,only AFTER I proved that the
The ride home was pretty quiet, because I didn't tell
Walt that I saw Dory's secret fly.
He would have to work on that one on his own! ~ By the 44 year
old "Kid" - John McBride