Lighter Side

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December 17th, 2001

Test Yourself
Ed Zern

By Ed Zern

In the August issue of Trout, official publication of Trout Unlimited, there's a quiz-type test for fly fisherman. Without exception, the questions deal with such matters as proper hook size, differences between spentwing and upright patterns, proper uses of the double haul in casting, and other purely technical considerations.

It has always seemed to this department that the really important and fundamental problems of fishing cannot be, or at least should not be, reduced to mere technical knowhow or mechanical skills; rather, that they are essentially moral and ethical in nature, and that such efforts as this to dispiritualize the sport are a sad reflection of the materialistic world in which we live today.

I have, therefore, drawn up a quiz of my own with the thought that if all trout fisherman were forced to take a test of this sort, only those who achieved a certain minimum grade would be granted licenses and the pressure on our streams and lakes might thus be substantially reduced. Here are the questions.

    1. You are engaged to marry your beautiful and charming childhood sweetheart, whose family has no money but who loves you devotedly. Two weeks before the wedding date you meet a homely, bowlegged, pigeon-toed girl whose father owns two miles of excellent fishing near his home, has a shooting and fishing lodge in western Montana, and owns both banks of three topnotch pools on the Miramichi in New Brunswick. She is an only child, and is obviously attracted to you. What do you do about your engagement?

    2. After spending considerable time and money learning to tie flies, you collect a magnificent assortment of natural blue dun and other high-grade hackle, furs for dubbing, fine-wire hooks, and other materials. Shortly after you install a fully-equipped fly-tying table in your den, your six-year-old son develops a violent allergy to feathers. What action do you take?

    3. While fishing the lower Brodheads in Pennsylvania you notice an enormous brown trout rising steadily to a hatch of green drakes. Just about the time you have tied a No.12 Green Drake to your leader and spent ten minutes carefully working your way across the current into casting position, you notice that the hatch is beginning to taper off. At the same time you hear a cry from the railroad track alongside the stream and see that a beautiful damsel in a low-cut dress has caught her foot in a switch and is calling to you that the express train from Stroudsburg is Scranton is due in three minutes. What do you do?

    4. While fishing from a boat with a wealthy uncle who owns a number of custom-built Payne, Garrison, and Orvis rods with matched reels and lines, not to mention several best-grade Parker shotguns and a brace of matched Model 21 Winchesters, he tell you that as his own children have no interest in outdoor sports he has recently revised his will to leave all his fishing tackle and guns to you. When he stands up to play a fish in deep water, you recall that he's unable to swim a stroke. What's your next move?

The Best of Ed Zern
These are, adminttedly, difficult questions, and while I don't propose to reveal the correct answers, these hints may be in order:

    1. It may help your thinking on this question to bear in mind that while beauty fades and mortal love may turn to ashes, the Miramichi has been a pretty good salmon river for several thousand years.

    2. Frankly, you may not get full credit on this if you suggest putting the boy up for adoption. There are several good boarding schools that accept boys of this age, or you could send him to live with relatives. Adoption is a lengthy, bothersome process.

    3. Some fairly expert sportsmen have been tripped up by this one. We suggest you ask yourself which is more difficult to come by, a four-pound brown trout or a pretty girl.

    4. Well, there's that proverb about casting your bread upon the waters.

I would propose that anyone flunking this test should be obliged henceforth to stop taking up space on trout streams and confine himself to some other pastime. There's not enough good water today for even the truly dedicated anglers, and if a man doesn't have a sense of proportion and a feeling for relative values, he doesn't deserve a license." ~ Ed Zern, - Exit Laughing

Credits: From The Best of Ed Zern published by The Lyons Press.

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