Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
January 6th, 2003

Free Rod
BOBLAWLESS, Port Ludlow, WA

"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather not catch anything on flies" -- Bob Lawless.

I was busting my way through a thick patch of willows, trying to reach a little used section of the river, Montana's Big Hole River, when disaster struck. It wasn't like a bolt from the blue; it was more like a big hole had opened in the earth and I was tumbling through it. But, a little background would be appropriate here.

After fishing all morning I had nothing to show for it; so I got desperate. I didn't think I owned the problem. It was just that there was too much pressure on this world famous river, and I had myself believing that all the fish were gone. I simply could not accept the fact that a world famous angler like me on a world famous trout stream like this would be skunked using what should be world famous flies. The only reason why they are not world famous is because I keep them held in the most strict secrecy. Not even my own sainted mother has ever seen them. But we digress here.

So here I am, crashing through these willows unable to see much but I knew I was headed in the general direction of the water. Now, through some freak accident, I poke my rod tip through the hole in the bottom of a huge beehive. Trying to get it back, the ferrule lets go and the line is now hopelessly tangled in the aforesaid willows. Bees start to pour out and make their famous beeline straight toward me.

Wham! Wham! Wham! and Wham! Four stings just like that, three on my nose, the other on my upper lip. I'm close to death here, my dearest and only friends. The only thing I can do is to charge for the refuge of the water which I do, abandoning my fly rod. To my horror, I discover that it is some distance down to the river which I must not have noted due to my understandably foul mood. Plus we are looking at a log jam, not water, when I make my dive. No Olympian, but good, I am able to effect a barrel role in order to take the fall on my back. But somehow, though I am good as stated, I do a forward flip and crash like a wrecking ball into the water, pinning myself between two monstrous logs. My head is just barely out of the water. I cannot move. Oleander, my pet parrot and constant companion is hooked on a broken branch, and Smolt, my dearest and only dog, is dangling from a crotch. We are still alive but in one hell of pickle.

Our only hope is that a passing fisherman will help us. And pretty soon here comes this kid up river. I can just see him and then he is on the trail through the willows. I wait till I can hear him and then I shout out,"Hey kid, over here in the willows." I hear him go crashing off at top speed and I'm wondering if he thought I was some sort of pervert or maybe the bees had found him. Anyway, gone!

Then another guy comes along. And I say, "Pssst, buddy," in my least sexy voice, "I need a hand here."

"What to do ya want?" he says warily.

"Check me out, I say." "And then flustered, I say, "Have a nice day, ah, you're looking good old friend, ah, could you pull me out maybe?" Oleander lets him have it with a string of invectives and somehow I guess what with Smolt, the parrot, the bees, this new "friend" boogies on me. So much for that friend!

Two hours go by and try as I might I can't free myself or my pets. I must wait.

Now here comes an old man along barely able to walk, creeping like an old crab. I shout out,"Hey! Over here! Need some help!"

"What?" he says.

"HELP! I NEED HELP!" I say in my loudest voice, but still trying to preserve some dignity. "Help, he says,"what kind of help?"

And I'm thinking to myself that this old goat can't walk, he is obviously stupid, and now he is all I've got to help me. Fine. Everything is fine. Great. Just great. I ask him if he can think of something, which was stupid on my part because obviously thinking dried up in him some years ago, but remember I've been on my back in the water for some time now, so my own thinking is none too sharp either.

He says,"Yup, I'll tell my son when the hatch is over. Son's got a tractor."

"Hatch?" I say,"You mean you can't do anything until you've fished the evening hatch?"

"Yup," he says and disappears.

I wanted to holler something about his being a stupid old *@#! but I thought better of it. He was my only hope after all. The evening hatch consisted mainly of mosquitoes who would have bitten me more often but the bee bites seem to bother them and they left those areas alone.

Night falls. I'm alone except for my animals. I'm terrified, nauseous, hungry, thirsty, my bowels are calling, headache, everything hurts, even my hair hurts. I start to tear up and Smolt goes to work licking the tears away. Oleander let the old guy have it with a word or two which, while it felt good to hear such things, was not in our best interest.

Finally, at about midnight, after I had given up completely and was waiting for death to come, I could hear a tractor coming. With a rope and a lot of hollering from the old man, I was pulled out of the river and set free. I was going to punch him out for making me wait while he fished, but his son looked tough and after all, the old man did get me out. So, in the most sarcastic voice I could come with, I asked, "Get any fish?"

"Two," he says.

As an afterthought here, I was unable to get my rod back in the dark. I don't remember (alcohol) where this incident took place, though I have searched far and wide. I even followed bees in the hope that they would lead me to their hive. I found two hives and got stung a bunch of times, but no rod found. So if you see my priceless, antique Orvis bakelite impregnated, tonkin bamboo, 6wt. rod, with special dry fly action built in, and the name "Battenkill" on the rod and it's sticking out of a beehive, then that rod is mine. But I know you'll probably keep it. Drop me a line and I'll send you the rod case and the extra tip. You might as well have the whole nine yards. Oh, and one more thing, it might not have been on the Big Hole; it could have been the Yellowstone or the Madison, but it definitely was in Montana. ~ BOBLAWLESS

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