Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
March 7th, 2005

Voll gainer or how I beat the East German Olympic Diving and Gymnastic Teams
By Frank Reid

Whilst living in the little town of Buch in the former West Germany I loved to go on walks through the woods. Absolutely beautiful pine forests with a few oaks scattered about. I would put my young daughter in a backpack child carrier and jog the paths through the forests, alongside the streams, up and down the hills. By the way, when you have a kid in one of these, remember, his or her head is higher than yours. When you duck under a limb, duck low enough to clear the little ones head too. Its a lot easier to explain mud on your knees than a bump on the kid's forehead.

I had seen trout in these streams. I could go down and gaze at these little browns, all of 10 inches, just sitting in a three meter wide rivulet, but I couldn't catch them. The problem was not my skill level, but rather no permission to fish.

I was a man on a mission. I got a German fishing license through the base. Now the only problem was finding the man with the fishing rights on these waters. The only problem was finding the person who had the rights. I was a German translator for the military, so the language barrier was not a problem. I asked the Waldmeister or forest manager who owned the rights and got an answer. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a task tracking the guy down because all I was given was a name and city. The city, 50 kilometers away, was quite large.

After about eight months of trying on and off, I got a letter from the gentleman. He was happy to let me fish there. He had to show every year how many Yanks he let fish and had not had any of us fish there in years. As a matter of fact, I was only the third person, German or American, in the six years that had asked him.

I was elated. Stupid fish that may have never seen a fly. I planned my first trip for the following Saturday.

Bright and early Saturday morning, I kitted up. I had no waders nor wading boots. No problem, the stream is small so I would just wear sneakers. I had a $60 rod and reel combo from Cabelas and a few flies from the Base Exchange, chiefly blue and red colored.

I walked the mile and a half to the stream and stood on the hill trying to figure where to fish. I didn't have the skill to fish moving water as the only fly fishing I'd done to that point was in a pond. I had seen a pool in my previous walks, but knew it was going be difficult to get to. Well, why not, I'll take a shot at it. I strolled down the trail and found myself looking down a steep hillside to a 50-foot long pool that was about 25 feet wide. Unfortunately, it was steep, really, really steep.

I gingerly stepped down the hillside; the ground was covered in wet, fallen leaves, pine needles and other debris. About one quarter down, it happened. Something rolled under my right foot. I started to pitch forward. To keep from tumbling, I pushed my left foot out and flopped on my back. Let the slide begin. The slope was steep and slick enough that I continued to slide, feet first. Then I picked up speed. 30, 50, 60, 80 feet.

Time slows and the senses are heightened. I hear the sonic boom of my passage. I look back and see a small rooster tail of leaves flying up behind me. Radiant heat is building on my backside. I fly over an unwary chipmunk and watch it burst into flame. I'm on a one-man butt luge to Hell. Then.. WHAM!

I'd hit a sapling, legs spread, square in the crotch. I couldn't breath. I couldn't feel my body. I could only feel one thing and it wasn't nice. After what seemed like a few hours, I decide the fetal position would help the pain. Yes, this is better, oohh CRAP!

I'm moving again. This time I'm rolling, tumbling, totally uncontrolled. I fling out my arms to stop but end up with more pain as my arms flop like a bonita on the deck of a party boat. I hit a rotten log and crash through it. I catch a glimpse of a rock ledge in my path, hit it, elbow and shoulder scream, and then I'm airborne.

Time slows again. I think of my widow and two orphaned daughters. I wonder if they bury GI's that die in fishing accidents in Arlington. I wonder where my rod, right shoe, sock, hat and other items are and why did they disappear. I gaze around and I'm floating over the pool, all muted greens and browns, and 15 feet down. Its beautiful from this height and it looks like I'm going to get a close up.

I hit the water like an Apollo capsule coming in without parachutes. I come in at an angle and slam into the bottom. The water is ice cold and about five feet deep. I dogpaddle over to the shore and take stock. Nothing seems to be broken but there's definitely gonna be a mark. No, make that a lot of marks. The ice water feels good on my now numb lower half. I sit in the water and rest.

I drag myself out of the water and stand up. I look up and see that I've come at least 200 feet down the hill. I'm alive but not feeling so hot. I slowing climb the hill and retrieve my rod, shoe, jacket and hat. Can't find my sock. Except for being soaked to the skin, I'm now fairly clean.

Well I'm here. Yeh, the pool is will be toast for a bit, to hell with it. I'm going fishing. ~ Frank Reid

About Frank:

Born and raised in Southern California, my mother taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000. I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe, from the deserts of California to the Philippines, Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha, Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between. These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore area as a computer consultant trying to earn enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip. My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely daughters. ~ FR
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