There's nothing like a good feud to get the juices moving. It's
more fun than fishing and can approach loving in its intensity. I
should know as I had a fishing feud for about ten years with a
local lodge owner. Even though these were my formative years
as a fly fisherman, when I caught more trout and fished more
water than I thought possible, the high point of that period was
I was rather new to the game but was fishing 10-12 hours a day
on the water nine days a month, living in my ratty old flower van
and tying flies at the local pizza shop for supper. I would tie on a
hand vice in the shop while I ate pizza. "Buy a me some pizza and
I'll tie you some flies." At the time my nymphs tied with wire instead
of thread were 'hot.' I guided a little but not enough to interfere
with my fishing.
I liked to fish the water in front of this lodge. It had more fish than
a hatchery pond and I could always count on a nightly pizza sponsor
there. One day there was a baetis hatch early in the
season that the trout just were not on. A blanket hatch with no takers.
I tried every dry that I had and most of the nymphs with no success.
I hung my head and walked into the lodge shop and bought some blue-
winged-olive dubbing and asked, "How do you fish a nymph during this hatch?
Dead drift or down and across with a twitch?" I was then informed
by the lodge owner that an uneducated dummy like me should take
one of his courses and not bother him with my stupid questions.
The steel entered my soul at that point and I paid for my dubbing
I then became one of the premier nymph fishermen on the river,
one of the first to utilize a strike indicator. I really became
entomologically aware. I researched anything I could on nymph
type and behavior, and even though I preferred to fish dries I
became known as the 'nymph fisherman.' People would ask
me to show them my indicator act and I would, sometimes I
would have 3-4 people in line. Then, I never thought to charge
for it. One didn't charge for showing someone how to do a fly
fishing thing. My how that has changed.
I would spend all winter thinking of ways how I could break it
off in the lodge owner. Some of the things I did are still remembered
today, 20 years later, I was forgotten but the trick wasn't.
I went to a local livery stable and sent him some horse manure
with the card, "from one horses-ass to another." UPS will send
One day on the stream I met the fly-fishing editor of one of the
major magazines. He was staying at the lodge. I was slaying them
with a high wing thorax dry I had tied and he was doing without.
I gave him 3-4 flies and after he had lost them all he edged over for
some more, which I provided. He knew his flies. When I opened
my box and offered them he picked the best. I remember that 20
years later. He asked me, "what do you call this fly?"
I replied, "It's named after the lodge owner. It's called a Horses-ass fly."
He replied, "Oh, you're the guy from Dayton."
I guess my act had got around.
Once while he was having a cookout for his guests I saw the chance
to do it again. He had a bread hole that had lots of big trout. These
monsters would only eat bread. His big joke was to throw bread
into the hole and watch the trout fishermen cast to fish that were
wallowing like pigs and would only eat bread. I edged into the stream
and stood still for 2 hours, never making a cast just standing there.
One of his guests came over and asked what I was doing.
I replied "fishing."
"But you haven't moved for two hours."
"Yes I'm waiting for that dummy to chum some bread for my trout."
I then proceeded to show him the 8/0 turtle hook imbedded in a 3 x 5
kitchen sponge. He knew he had been had. When he returned to the
party and told the tale - the lodge owner left for the day. Success is sweet.
He wasn't generally well liked by the locals and as the word of the
feud got around I became somewhat of a local legend. One fishing
shop owner loaned me some frozen steelhead. These were really big
fish that had been gutted and frozen. I waited till noon when all the
guests were back at the lodge for lunch and put those three fish down
inside my waders and waded into the bread hole with the bamboo
carpet rod and a bobber the size of an apple. There was a little brush
around the hole and I yelled and beat the water with my one-inch
bamboo carpet stick. I couldn't be observed from the lodge really
well due to the brush. I then removed the fish from my waders and
dragged the three fish past all and got into my van and left. I never
slowed down. I guess he almost had a stroke.
It was suspected that he fed the trout in front of the lodge since the
river never could support a population of this density. I then called
the Department of Natural Resources and reported him for throwing
trash (trout food) into the river.
I fished his water every morning before his guests got up and every
evening before they returned. I caught or stuck every fish that was
feeding. I would have been hard to fish behind. One year I kept
count and I logged over 650 trout from the bridge to the canoe
take-out. I released no keepers.
I slept in the town park and local police knew me and permitted this.
One morning I noticed a group of Boy Scouts, maybe a hundred or
so, renting canoes for a trip down the river. I rushed to the local
hardware and bought some poster board and duct tape and a magic
marker. I went to the bridge 50 feet above the lodge property and
taped up the sign. The sign read "Boy Scout take-out 50 feet on right."
I then woke up his neighbor that had the dock on the opposite side
of the river. There was bad blood there too. I said "there is a happening
you really want to see." I poured him a big shot of Scotch and we
retired to his dock to watch.
Watching him try to convince 100 plus scouts that there was not a
take-out on his lodge lawn was a blast. We were sitting on his
neighbors dock and almost fell in laughing. We even resorted
to encouragement like, "get em #%*!," or other bits of wit.
"Glad to see you support scouting. How many cookies did
you buy to get support like this?" He knew from whence his
troubles came. We did serious damage to that bottle. A real
dog and pony show.
One year I met a famous writer, that was staying at his lodge, at
a local bar. I recognized him and complimented him on his stuff
and bought a drink or two. I then proceeded to tell of this feud
between this nymph fisherman and the lodge owner and how the
nymph fisherman had developed this fly made out of monkey tail,
horse tail and only rearward parts of animals that he named after
the lodge owner. I recounted how the nymph fisherman caught
amazing quantities of fish with this fly. Not because the fly was
good but because the nymph fisherman was really a nymph fisherman.
He would pass out six or so nymphs to everyone he met on the river
hoping to get the fly into the literature. A fly only made of rear animal
parts named after the lodge owner. A colossal joke on the owner which
with a little luck might pass into fly fishing folklore. We laughed about
the concept and when I left I handed him six of the nymphs and
departed without a word. He never published the story. I thought
I had him but I guess not.
When the lodge owner died I found I was really saddened. It was,
I guess, like losing an old friend. He was as much a part of my trout
fishing as the trout. I had, through the years, grown attached to the
I sent flowers. The arrangement was baetis green. ~ Old Rupe