Welcome to Panfish!

Part One hundred ninety-seven

Doctor's Advice


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

It was to be a good day on the water. Paul and I were to spend the day on Brushy Creek and explore some areas we have never been to. There are several stretches where little to no fishermen visits and we were planning to hit these areas throughout the day. It was a fairly nice day but the wind was kicking up periodically and casting was a bit of a challenge. Now Paul is fairly new to this sport and while his casting and placement is pretty good, his patience/presentation was a little on the short side. I have talked, berated, filled his waders with water and threatened to put a restraining order to stay 500 feet from any moving water if he did not slow down and present the fly to the fish. The problem was he would perform a beautiful cast and let the fly sit for only a few seconds. Then he would pick up and re-cast again. This would go on all day and at the end of the day he would always wonder why I always caught and released more fish. I have even considered getting one of those Anti-barking collars, you know, the ones to put on a dog and when it barks the collar delivers a mild shock. They also have a remote. See where I'm going with this?

Anyway back to the story. We were out fishing a very promising area and picking up some nice bream. Paul decided to move downstream and hit a small pool where some activity had been noticed. I yelled out to him "Hey, you better get out of the water and work yourself around to the windward side or you are going to be casting into the wind." Remember the wind was not steady just a strong periodic puff or so. During the winds I would just hang out and enjoy the scenery and wait for the lull then cast. Not Paul.

While I was waiting during one of the windy periods, I heard this huge commotion going on in Paul's direction and a lot of words not normally connected with catching a nice fish. I figured he had hung a favorite and last of its kind fly, out of reach in tree. So I wondered over, as the wind seemed to be relentless this time the see what was up. Paul was looking to be in a lot of pain and holding his hand up over his mouth. I ran over to see what I could do and discovered the fly had driven itself deep into his lip. I told Paul not to worry since I only tie barbless hooks and to just pull it out as there would be little to no damage. One look on his face pretty much convinced me he was a non-believer. Upon closer inspection I saw why - it was not one of mine and probably barbed.

So I cut the line as close as he would let me and ran him down to the local emergency room for "hook removal." Now this is where it starts to get comical.

This is a small community and not some big city hospital and people are still treated as family. During the check in phase the nurse had us fill out some paperwork etc. When she asked, "What is the nature of the problem?" Paul removed his hand to show a nice hopper imitation hanging onto his now swollen lip. The nurse simply replied, "I don't even want to know, just fill out these forms and a doctor will be with you shortly." At this we went to sit down but not before we noticed her shutting the service window and hearing stifled laughter emitting from her station.

The wait was short and we were ushered into a room and I was just sitting in a spare chair more for moral support than anything else. The doctor came in and said by the chart the patient had a "Fly?" stuck in his mouth? When Paul dropped his hand the doctor in controlled professionalism just cracked the slightest smile. He assured Paul that it would be out quickly and almost painlessly.

Well after it was all over and Paul was ready to leave, the doctor just could not stand it anymore and with a big grin said, "Son, if you can't figure out which mouth that fly goes into. I suggest you find a less taxing sport!" then chuckling to himself, moved off to the next room. Now Paul was pretty crestfallen after that and after picking myself up off the floor I assured him the Doc was just getting his two cents in. I told him, "You have to admit, these guys see a lot of grave things and yours just got a good laugh for them. Besides by tomorrow you are going to see just how funny this was."

Think it ended there? As we were driving home, me doing the driving, Paul was reading his discharge papers and started to laugh or at least as much as he could. I asked him what was so funny? In the paperwork in a section titled "Follow up and Prevention" the doctor wrote: "Always cast quarter wind or crosswind, keep the fly on your downwind side and place your rod tip at about a 30 degree angle out from your body. This will still give you excellent control and the fly will never cross your face in case the wind picks up unexpectedly."

What do you know, a fly fishing doctor! Paul went back a couple of weeks later and gave him a small box of flies that do very well in our area and "Doc" fishes with us whenever he gets a chance.

Paul learned his lesson that day and his presentations today are excellent! We do laugh about it and he has repeatedly asked me to tell him what my most embarrassing moment while fishing was. Little chance of that.

I still give Paul a good ribbing every now and then, "Hey Paul, you are your own best catch!"

Until next time, GO FISH! ~ Hillfisher

Publishers Note: Just in case you are not close to a friendly emergency room, here is how to remove a hook, barbed or barbless: On-stream Hook Removal

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