Voll gainer or how I beat the East German Olympic Diving and Gymnastic
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.
By Frank Reid
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Lighter Side Archive