I call it four grabs and a welcome asterisk

It's his lake, the rest of us are backdrop

I lack the Warden-aint-looking-Velveeta “rod holder”, the depth meter, but more importantly I’m missing that gracious and relaxed look that comes with consistent success.

I was too busy sulking to notice. Fishing is five grabs – and if you’re lucky enough to hook most of them it’s a good day; sunburn hurts less, dinner tastes better, and the mosquitoes bother some other unfortunate.

Me. Mostly.

I flopped around trying secret and double-secret, figuring with each new color I’d unlock the lake and its secrets, but it was for naught. The weather was friendly, yet the fishing remained deathly.

calibaetis spinner

Not a Factor.

My Savior

Why you keep a #10 Adams in a box of #16’s

After the sixth or seventh honey bee floated by I was rethinking the McGinty – and why hadn’t I been smart enough to have a half dozen at the ready…

Everywhere was “Pizza” water. Toppings included every terrestrial not supposed to be there, a smattering of everything that belonged, throw in some midges just to confound everyone and a rise was something to dread, not its normal welcome quickening.

Two fish over was the fellow that likes mayfly, and I’d just cast at the fish that prefers Ladybug…

… and that welcome breeze, the one that adds enough cooling to your burnt forearms so’s you won’t notice – suddenly delivers enough protein to wake up everything downwind plus sending the sunbathers screaming.

It’s the reason you have that one bedraggled #10 Adams in your box of sixteen’s – where you pray you used lots of black thread, because having tried everything earlier, you know you’re lacking ants of any shape or color.

A deft use of the nippers – a bit of artistic license, and sent on its way with a prayer. The first fish shakes it loose in midair, and with only four grabs left …

Why you have a #10 Adams

… that satisfying feeling of a solid hookup. Large meat heading for the weeds and suddenly 5X is too thin, gossamer even.

Everything looks better

Suddenly everything looks better. The girls are prettier, the sky bluer, dinner is strictly gourmet, and there’s still some fish working. No one’s noticed – none have crept closer, and after those two Canada Geese trail past my fly …

NO. He did not just eat that

(The honker is making a wry face, beak and tongue suddenly active)

… and the line is moving smartly from the slack position to nearly taught.

Canada Geese love big dries

Time freezes.

The little Devil on my left shoulder says, “ Dude, figure she’s nearly eight or nine pounds, that bitch can peel line …”

The lesser Devil on my right says, “True, but you’ve got about 60 small children and parents on the beach to your left, that Honker is going to scream bloody murder, likely go airborne – and while you’re flying that kite with your click-pawl pointing its ugly finger right at you, the entire National Park Service is going beat you to death in a really public way.”

… so I feed slack as fast as I can, the Goose is still mouthing frantically and I’m praying the last of my five grabs is a clean miss.

Ptui … and the fly drops safely into the water.

Left shoulder Devil isn’t done yet, “Dude, that counts. It’s aquatic, it lives here – it’s natural, and it was a clean take.”

Right side responds quickly enough, “ An asterisk at best, what’s important is that as the National Park Service has recently converted from wheel guns to the Model 92 – featuring 15 in the clip and one in the pipe – they’ve stopped counting until the slide locks at empty.”

We all agreed that was a good point.

8 thoughts on “I call it four grabs and a welcome asterisk”

  1. Keith, Very nice! Yeah, definitely a counter. I had an American Dipper (water ouzel) on once. She must have taken a good thirty feet before kerplunking in the water. I reeled her back toward me as slowly as possible while moving to her. About five feet away she berserked and broke the fly free. Luckily only me and the trees to bear witness.

  2. I’d describe it as a combination of incredulous rage and helplessness. Rage because it was the only #10 Adams I had with me … and helplessness because if the fly doesn’t eject on its own – the scene that follows is going to be really ugly.

    ..and so very public.

  3. It takes a steady hand to not react. I’m of the school that says exotic strikes count higher when you don’t close the deal–on purpose. There’s a hierarchy.

    Bats tend to hook themselves, so they don’t really count, but if they take a fly you’ve tied that’s a huge plus–they’re the pickiest of all, even in the dark. Double score for hydrophobia.

    Negative points for stalking tailing redfish and eventually hooking one…in the wing, because they’re stingrays. Whimpering like a damsel when you realize that all the redfish all around you are also stingrays is not a plus.

    Manatees are seldom even aware that they’re hooked.

    Seagulls are a good starter bird. Laughing gulls are easy but a herring gull will take your eye out and spit in the socket before you can say Jack Robinson. Terns are the apex of the gull grand-slam unless you travel to Christmas Island for the legendary shot at a frigate bird. Though I know a “pay to play” stretch of the Shenandoah where an unwary backcast can result in the usually fatal (for the angler) hookup with an ostrich. Another place where the cool-hand will resist the temptation to set the hook.

    Canadas are tough to fool, and they are devious and crafty. Plus they mate for life; any hookup is likely to result in a multi-year stalking and lawn-pooping vendetta.

    A cut above is the little fish-big fish interaction. Northerns will eat your walleyes, and your propeller, if you let them.

    You’ve arrived if you can resist the spasmodic yank when a muskie eats your smallmouth at boatside. Only problem is that your muskie is going to eat that smallie no matter what–waiting and hoping is no good, so you might as well tighten down and get on with it.

    Bull shark vs. speckled trout–that’s a favorite, especially in a murky North Carolina sound. What’s weird about it–happens every time–that shark manages to take your trout and crap in your pants at the same time.

    Or Orca vs. salmon (and some bad language): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmmdxoShUE

    or Polar bear vs. salmon (for a bonus, he’s using a flyrod): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diCfjbag1RU

    Or, my personal favorite: angler hooks striper, seal eats striper, white shark eats seal. That hasn’t happened yet.


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