February 14th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Honesty

By Frank Reid

A couple of years ago, I was finishing up an Autumn trip to my favorite water, Penns Creek near Coburn, Pennsylvania. For those who've never been there, Penns is one of the most fecund streams in the world. There are more bugs and more kinds of bugs in that water than any ten streams I've ever visited. Additionally, Coburn is in the middle of Pennsylvania's Amish country. Home to tons of brown trout, Penns never seems to disappoint.

At about 2 p.m. on the Sunday, I decided to end my weekend and prepare for the three hour drive home to Baltimore. I was pretty relaxed, the stresses of the previous week gone, my mind still whirling with memories of the copper-colored gold I'd struck. The leaves were leaning toward the first hints of the flame and amber glories soon to come. The perfume was old pine needles with a hint of frost. I wandered up the trail, crossed the old train trestle bridge, set my rod on my roof rack and started to strip off the waders.

As I was putting my gear in the truck, an elderly Russian couple asked me directions to the top of the hill. Was there a path? I actually used a bit of Russian in my directions, though I think I gave them directions to the Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Baltimore where they could order a furry farm tractor with onions. My Russian isn't that good.

Three and a half hours later, I'm back in suburbia, unpacking the truck. This is when I noticed the empty rod tube. I searched the truck, nothing. Despondent. I wrote up the trip report of a glorious weekend, tinged, at the end, with the final farewell to a treasured friend.

A rod is more than a piece of equipment; it is an extension of you. It is your arm flying above the green waters. The line is your hand resting on the cool riffles, sensing the movements and eddies. The fly is your searching fingertips, gently coaxing the speckled friends to you.

I posted the trip report and went to bed. The rod was lost. Live and learn, move on.

The next morning, I started to look at the responses to my story. One friend noted that I should call Jonas at the Feathered Hook Fly Shop in Coburn. Jonas may have an idea about the rod.

I mulled the thought over. Jonas is a wonderful fly shop owner, knowledgeable and witty. My standard greeting is to throw open the door of his shop and toss in my wallet. Well, it can't hurt. I call Jonas.

That's when I got the surprise. He'd seen my rod. He and his lady fair had been walking along the creek the night before and noticed a rod leaning against the stop sign next to the creek. He knew the rod belonged to one of his customers; he recognized the little yellow parachute crane fly as one of his.

I asked him if he could check if it still was there. "But of course!" He then closed the shop and went up to the stop sign. It was still there. He retrieved it and called me back. "Where do you want it sent?"

I gave him my address and offered to pay him richly for his time and the cost of shipping. He refused all rewards and even the cost of shipping. Three days later, the rod was back in my hand, even the fly was included.

To this day, I marvel at the honesty of a wonderful fly shop owner and the mysterious stranger who sat my rod against the stop sign. I must have driven off after talking to the Russian couple, my mind still wrapped around the sights and sounds of a wonderful weekend. My rod paid the price, forgotten atop my truck, until I turned off the road at the stop sign, tumbling to the dirt and gravel.

On that day, more than my rod was rescued. My faith in my fellow man was affirmed. We live in a corporate culture where getting ahead is king. However, the values engendered in a little fly shop in Central Pennsylvania are the ones that truly separate man from beast. ~ Frank Reid


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