Lighter Side
April 19th, 1999

How Dry I Was

by David P. Salamone

It started out as a question. "Joe, let's go fishing. Want to?" Joe, the oldest brother among four, teller of tall tales to anyone who would lend an ear, says, "It's way too windy. Why don't we just go take a look at the bridge, see if the water's cleared, if the steelhead are there? Then we can take a run over to your favorite fly testing stream, see if we can catch anything there. There's really no time to head to the Southern Tier to fish."

"Sure," I said, "that would be good enough. That should satisfy me for today, as long as I get some casting in." With that, we packed up and off to the bridge, a five-minute ride in his truck. There was no sign of steelhead, so off the two of us were to the fly-testing stream, another two minutes away. When we arrived there were at least 20 cars parked in the access lot.

You could hear the tractor-trailers whizzing by, doing 65 to 70 miles an hour on the 90 East alongside the stream. The noise of the diesels and gas-guzzlers galore broke the tranquil beauty of Buffalo Creek at its intersection with two main streets in a local suburb of Buffalo, New York. On went the neoprenes, since it was very chilly and the water temperature was still low, along with a Carhartt jacket with hood to keep the wind out.

The trek down to the area of the creek that I caught several trout in was crowed, to say the least. Inquiring first of those on my left and right if it would be all right to fly fish between them, into the murky water I went. On my right, about 40 yards away, was a gentleman with a spinning outfit. Upon entering the stream, the lucky buzzard was landing a good-sized steely! I couldn't tell what he was using, but presumed it had to be either live bait or some sort of trout lure. Having caught a glimpse of what looked to be a decent sized silver spoon, though, at the end of his line, the possibility that he had a worm or minnow attached to its treble hooks was a good bet. Five minutes later, he had another, and then another.

I hadn't made 10 casts yet, and he had landed his fourth steelhead since I had been there. I tried everything in my box: black, white, chartreuse, olive wooly buggers; Purple Perils; D's Glory nymphs; GB Hare's Ears; red and orange Glo bugs and a Polar Shrimp.

Well, too many casts to count and now getting around 5:30 p.m., I tied on a #8 brown beadhead wooly bugger with a tail that included Krystal Flash. Two casts. Nothing. Then, on the third cast, a hit? Having the gut feeling that it was a snag, and not taking notice of the fifteen people gathered on the bank along with my brother, all in awe at the extreme bend in my fly rod as I moved my line back toward the bank and out again, I could hear the voices on the bank yelling out, "He's got a big one! Look at that pole bend!" And there, among the other fourteen spectators, stood my older brother, now wearing one of those suspicious smiles on his face.

I didn't know that he had leaned over to an older gentleman wearing a local town jacket and said, "That's Mickey Evello. He's a writer of fly fishing books. He's famous. Also writes stories for a few magazines." "Oh, really?" said the gentleman. "That's great, but why is he here of all places?" Joe, being the teller of tall tales that he is, replied, "He heard that it was a special place for catching several species of fish, including trout and steelhead. They told him it was great fishing for the locals. Was thinking about writing about it. He wanted to see it for himself, though." "Great," the man said with a wide smile. "It's about time someone noticed this town. Look at him play that fish! It must be a big steelhead!"

By this time, a few more strangers had joined the fun on the bank. I couldn't figure out why this fish was not tapping at my rod tip. It felt as though a tire rim had attached itself to my fly. At this point, I heard big brother on the bank yelling; "Keep your rod up! Keep your rod up!"

So, up came the rod and out of the water came the #8 brown wooly bugger stuck to a two-pound rock. Talk about a sharp Mustad. There's really no need to describe the crowd's reaction to the outcome of this five-minute fight, so I'll leave it to your imagination.

So, there he was, Izaak the Embarrassed, not a clue but a sneaking suspicion that his brother and best buddy had given him a new name, Mickey Evello, and told everyone on the bank by that time that I was a famous fly fisherman and writer.

I turned toward the crowd with a smile, took one more step, tripping face-first into the icy waters of Buffalo Creek. All I could hear as I struggled to get up, wet from the neck down, fly vest totally soaked, was some kid in the crowd laughing and saying, "Look, dad, our famous fly fishing writer fell in! The famous fly fisherman fell in the water!"

Looking at big brother Joe, who was now rolling on the bank in laughter, I waded ashore, dripping from the chin down. "What the heck did you tell them now?" "Oh, nothing. I didn't tell them anything. C'mon, let's get you home. You look a little wet. That's enough for today." So much for Izaak's steelhead trip number two. ~ David P. Salamone (aka Host Izaak)

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