"If I'm not going to catch anything, then I 'd rather
not catch anything on flies" -- Bob Lawless.
BOBLAWLESS, Port Ludlow, WA
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lighter Side Archive