Proof positive that I’m in my dotage, as I begged off a fishing trip; something never before considered, something I’ve always dreaded, and something my Poppa would point to as proof of maturity.
In my (likely OUR) youth, I went fishing so long as there was water, enough gas money to return to our originating zip code, and there was rumor of fish or fishing present.
My dad would see the frantic late night preparation, restringing rods, wadding bologna sandwiches into the same pocket as the bait, and would shake his head solemnly.
“Another damn fishless fishing trip … When are you ever gonna learn?”
Naturally I would protest mightily of our combined angling prowess, how this trip was completely different than any prior outing, and furthermore … (meekly) … would he be so kind as to drive us there?
It was always a mystery how Pop could spot the fishless fishing trips from the productive outings, but I figured it related to the company I kept – how the neighborhood was slim on Mensa candidates and damn few knew a Nail Knot from a Poke in the Eye with a Sharp stick.
But hell, half the fun was the Out of Doors, and while the fishing might have been on a pier, beach, or piney wood, it still beat watching Star Trek reruns or doing chores.
Ten thousand fishing trips later – I’ve learned many things. Firstly, I can drive my own self, so the Meekness got kicked to the curb along with Humble. It is a known truism among us Professional Timewasters that only supreme confidence in the fly – and by that extension, confidence in our skills, and the quality of the rumor we’re acting on separating Real fishing trips from the pretenders.
Many thousands of trips have taught us that fishing is like Poker and if our comrades and their behavior are examined, often yield “tells” that mean the difference between a bluff and the pat hand.
If the pal organizing the trip (for the last couple of weeks) calls to confirm the night before, and after your bed time, chances are you’re looking at a fishless fishing trip.
If the nature of that call has so little detail about where to meet, what to bring, and when to show – that your spouse will be unable to direct the police to your corpse, chances are you’re embarking on a fishless fishing trip .
If the fellow owning the boat calls the deckhand, “Gilligan” or “Little Buddy”, you might be considering a fishless fishing trip.
If the tackle you’re directed to bring is “everything”, you are participating in a fishless fishing trip. “Everything” being equivalent to the “Doctor AllCome” blaring out of hospital speakers, and your erstwhile pals are going to let you figure out what the fish are eating, then borrow everything resembling that from you.
If the fellow that learned of this little known secret place insists he hasn’t told anyone and speaks in whispers, you’re headed for a fishless fishing trip. What it really means is the spot belongs to another pal who swore him to secrecy, and you’re about to become an accessory to murder.
If there are more “friends of friends” between the person owning the property and your pal (who swears he has permission), than the number of Degrees of Separation between you and Kevin Bacon, you’re on a fishless fishing trip. Six Degrees of Separation is the limit for knowing Kevin Bacon, and any relationship more distant is purest fantasy.
If the boat you’re using hasn’t been started since last Winter, you’re on a fishless fishing trip.
If the “hot fly” that guarantees the day’s festivities was revealed by some codger at a local gas station, you’re on a fishless fishing trip. Any dumbshit knows that a fly that lethal requires the benefactor to preserve one for posterity. Instead, they’re giving you that “Aw, Shucks” look as they finger your Ginger neck, claiming it was, “ …like this, only more Brown.”
If the number of large ticket items borrowed from you outnumber the fellows going, you are on a fishless fishing trip.
If you have to ask your pals if they have a fishing license, you’re on a fishless trip. Anyone not buying their license on January 2nd of the calendar year is a poser of the highest calling …
If coolers of beer are part of the gear carried to the water’s edge, you’re part of a Band of Brothers engaged in an exciting outdoor adventure that may include serving girls from the local tavern, but there is neither spouse nor fish in your future.