Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
October 30th, 2000

Counterpoint To "Fishing Companions"
Bill Is A Great Big Liar

By Ol' Red, Aurora, Colorado, USA

All fishing begins with a lie. And, if there is a Master of fishing, Bill is it. If you've read his story, then you have swallowed a rather skewed version of the truth. I know, I know. With Truth there are always three sides: His side, Her side, and what actually happened. I will try to rise above the singularity of "my side" and attempt to tell the truth, or at least a version that comes as close to it as possible while never exaggerating the size of a fish, the actual temperature reached by the term "cold," or, Bill's hair loss.

It's true that Bill is an excellent angler. His specialty is flyfishing. He does in fact have hair loss, but the way its fallen out makes him look like an Irish monk, and a fairly cute one at that, so things work out. It is also true that he did in fact finally get me to watch A River Runs Through It to peak my interest in flyfishing, but it would be far more accurate to use the term "hounded near to death" rather than his usage of "I suggested she watch . . ." He did not lie about it not being entirely about flyfishing. And yes, I was absolutely taken with the displays of Olympic-type casting. What can I say. I was taken with the sheer beauty of the art. And, I do have to agree with Bill on this point, anyone watching that casting and not being taken with it is a souless bait fisherman.

One point I do have to give Bill, and it's a big one, he let me jump into casting. He even warned me when cars were coming and how fast I'd better jump to the lawn. After an hour of casting with his direction (not to mention a comb on the road and something fuzzy on the end of the leader with which to hit said comb) he pronounced me "a natural." I have no idea what that means, but it seems to give him the gripes when other flyfisherpeople watch me cast and call their friends over to watch as well. That actually happened at The Frying Pan river late evening and it confused me but made him move downstream a bit further, thereby giving me even more room to let fly my line. Like I said, things work out.

Also true is the fact that I am a Fishing Heathen. Yes, I do wear jeans I had in the closet since the '70's. Yes, I do have a small, waterproof flybox which holds not only my flies, but a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, my bottle of floatant and my fishing license. It's all I need except for my nips, which I clip to my tee shirt pocket. Oh, also, I have a hat. A nice, Gary Borger-style fedora. So says Bill at any rate, and I do have to admit, he knows his Gary Borger. Except I don't think that Gary ever hot-glued a mouse fly (which I thought was cute) and several other totally unrelated flies that I found in trees, under rocks and oddly enough, on the back of my jeans once I got home. I did find one in a fish once, but I dropped it in the river because the fish suddenly decided to swallow the fly that I had in fact latched him with. And it isn't like I've never fished. The 'Trinidad' Bill refers to in his story is not the Trinidad in Colorado. I grew up in the Carribean fishing, not with a pole and all that fancy stuff, but a coffee can with a stick of wood nailed through the center, my line wrapped around the can. I am used to "casting" by letting out a lot of line, swinging it over my head in circles and letting fly. I also dig my own worms (which I don't consider "icky"), cut my own bait, and, on the occassion, have been known to jump into the water with my hunting knife and slam it into the head of the first passing object that looks edible. He had that part right.

Okay, on to the "Pan Fiasco." Let's see how this all started. He told me the part about his yearly camping trip to the Frying Pan was "pretty much cathartic" and "almost a religious experience." He also used that line we've all heard from anyone trying to rope us into going fishing with them: "There's fish there as big as your leg!" There are no fish as big as your leg, and we all know this so he wasn't fooling me on that point. But his eyes light up at the prospect, and, I like to camp so I figured eh, why not. (Of course the fact that he did fall to his knees was really unnecessary, but fun.) The part about the thunderstorm was absolutely correct. Except I never used the term "horrific," more like "WOWSER! This is great!" But then, I wasn't driving. On bald tires. He has his priorities. Safety is a big one, but only when it concerns water and rocks. It was near dark when we arrived at the camping site (it was indeed as nice as he claimed it to be, and the owners knew what they were doing), set up the tent (after he figured out which thing went where and that he did have to use a rock to bang the stakes in because a mere shove was not going to cut it in that wind), and cooked a nice hot dinner, which we ate under the stars and a moon as big and bright as Bill's eyes whenever the thought of him being up to his heinie in Frying Pan water hit.

He got up very early the next morning. He could afford to do that, as he had not spent the night as I had, trying against nature, bone structure and simple physics to ball himself up tighter and tuck the blanket so that every bodily part was actually covered from the converging snow. These acrobatics on my part was made all the more difficult by his insistence that HE owned ALL the covers and I could freeze to death while he snored peacefully.

Yes, he did make the coffee, but it had nothing to do with gentlemanly behavior. It was meant to be a sacrificial offering to the heathen Lady Of Ice that I had become overnight. And a wrathful Lady I was indeed. He actually had the nerve to stand outside the tent trying to convince me that it was warmer out there than where I was. I was not about to give up my half hour of hotly debated and heroically won covers. Especially as he was trying to hoodwink me yet again. I might have actually sucked into that bait had it not been for the knocking of his chicken-legged knees. Yah. Warmer. Right.

I crawled out. We had coffee. We had breakfast. A very good one. He's right about that. We did make it to the river. It was indeed beautiful. More right for Bill. After this, the stories take sharp turns to the right of truth and perhaps reality.

He caught fish. I did not. I never care if I catch fish. He cares very much if I catch fish. Ever try to fish with a noodge on your back? Constantly? "Try this fly. Okay, now try this one. I think it's too bright for them to bite. I think it's too cloudy. Excuse me for a minute, I seem to have a 16 pounder on my line and I may need some help to wrestle it in. Could you grab my net, dear?"

Never mind the fact that I'm standing on a waterfall trying to keep a foothold in water cold enough to numb my feet to the point where they're swelling. Not that I'm complaining about the cold here, mind you. I happen to like my legs going numb. I figure when I finally snap an ankle because of a misstep, hey, it won't hurt as much and I'll look fairly tough when the paramedics finally show up. Unlike Bill who jammed this thumb (it is not in fact broken) falling against a rock, and then complained all day that it "might be broken." He said this while wiggling it around. I prayed to the fishing gods that some old, blind trout might mistake it for something yummy and just bite it off. At least he'd have something to actually complain about, not to mention one heck of a fishing tale that could actually be proven by him simply saying, "If you don't believe me, count my thumbs."

It is now deep into October and he is still complaining about his thumb. Reminder to self: make sure next fishing buddy has tougher bones.

To our good luck, that evening was quite pleasant and no one froze to death. We ate outside and talked, then went to the tent and didn't fight about the covers. After my promise to heat the tent with the campstove while he was sleeping, he took great care to make sure I had my share of uncontested warmth. Even the morning was decent, but the best part of the whole trip was the really terrific showers. Plenty of very hot water and it came out strong and unrestrained. Another nice breakfast, another trip past every single place I wanted to stop and throw a fly, and, once again, back to the "Bill's Sweet Spot" that had only shown me scorn and ingratitude. Except this time, his rod broke. After he had spent an hour donning his excessive fishing gear. So there! He of course blamed me. I had dropped a case of Pepsi on it or something. (A lie.) I fell in the very cold river. So there! The Fishing Gods are a pack of happy campers with no care about the concepts of injustice. I went numb. So what the heck, I went into the river deeper. I think my bra froze. But the fish were going for my fly. HA! We had to piece together a rod from two rods. I even offered Bill my rod. I would have offered him the moon and stars if only he'd shut up for five minutes. We finally exchanged rods. Nothing bit. Bill rigged for depth charges, his term for nymphing. He caught. My rod fell apart every 4 casts. I was happy beyond belief. I was about 100 yards downriver of Bill. The day ended with Bill: 3, Me: Zip. Man it was fun!

On the way home, he decided to get even with me for every imagined injury and took me up the side of a mountain on a road a guy in a goat cart would find terrifying. There were no rails. True. There were sheer thousand foot drops. True. I am afraid of heights. True. I am more afraid of going off a crumbling road in a car at a speed of 30 mph with only a few thousand feet of open-air drop before a very sudden rock stop. Very, very true. My toes left claw marks on his dashboard. True. On the trip down where the road grew wide and happy, there were death threats made. True. I intend to keep them. True.

I'm looking forward to the trip next year. True. But this time, we'll go before Labor Day and we'll bring firewood and a heater for the tent. Absolutely true. ~ Ol' Red

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