Dealing with the Fish and Game Officer
Fear of Fly Fishing
Inevitably, you will have a brush with the law as you pursue
the wily and elusive trout. The fish and game officer is a lot
different from your garden-variety fuzz, in the sense that he seems
to have all the time in the world to chat with you and look at your
license and make sure your hooks are barbless, inspect your creel,
and pat you down for illegal drugs and weapons.
We thank Jack Ohman for use permission.
If you like Jack's fly fishing humor, be sure to look for his new book,
GET THE NET! published by Willow Creek.
You're probably from the big city. You deal with cops all the
time. City cops are in a big hurry, usually, to catch murdering
hordes, and dope smugglers from Florida, and jaywalkers and
thus don't take the time to get to know you like a fish and game
officer does. He knows this, and is playing off of your
expectation that he'll look at your license and then be off to
the next pool.
You will be standing in a riffle, and he'll charge in right behind
you like a Labrador retriever, friendly as all hell. You do the
citified thing and be cool and distant. Don't do it. He's got a
job to do, and he's just after the facts, ma'am, but he'll make a lot
of chitchat while you wonder what in Sam Hill he's up to. Be
friendly. Smile. Give him your top three fish-producing patterns.
After he's convinced you don't have 895 dead brown trout in your
trunk, he'll probably let you go.
Sometimes they're not so friendly. Well, at first they are, but you're
in a heap of trouble if you can't produce your license, boy. In many
states, if you don't have your license, the law will just take your gear.
All of it. Everything in the car, too, and they'll read you the Riot Act,
and you'll feel like a damned idiot. After they've taken your gear, they
send it over to LaCrosse or Butte or Casper or Montpelier, invariably
225 miles from where you live, and auction off your precious Thomas
and Thomas for $7.95.
Just a friendly warning from a guy who watched it happen to a kid who
took all his dad's fly fishing equipment out without telling him about it.
It wasn't me, and his dad just about tore his head off.
It really wasn't me. I swear it. ~ Jack Ohman