June 26th, 2006

Life is Too Short
By James Castwell


I remember the last time I said something to a jerk who was doing it wrong. He was wading right into the exact place my friend had just been targeting a riser with his dry fly. This dolt came in from the other side of the river, numb-mindedly kerlomping his way into the stream right up to his waist and then lobed out a big streamer.

We had been working a Pennsylvania stream hard that evening, Bob and I and this clown, cluelessly walked right into the middle of our game. That of course spelled the end of the event. I said something about 'it might have been nice if he had waited until we were done casting to that fish'. He told me the fishing was better from his side and we should have come in from there. As there was a big parking lot on our side and several guys fishing from our side I didn't pursue the conversation. But I wish I had not started it either. It's about the only real memory I have of that evening a few years ago. Did we catch anything? No idea. Maybe. Maybe not. I do not remember. But I do know I did snap at a guy; that much I remember.

It seems that when something or somebody is out of place that things go to heck. For instance, I have fly fished side-by-side, with guys about ten feet apart, for salmon with no problems. Well, until someone gets a salmon on, then all, you know what, breaks loose. But, for the most part, no one gets riled up. We know what to expect. The fish is going to tangle a few lines, several probably, as he goes back and forth. Now if some guy slings a spinning lure out there as the salmon is going by, that would be a problem and more than a few would have words about it. Fast and straight to the point.

I remember my younger days, and how I view things now. Back then, I figured I had paid for a fishing license and someone bobbing along in a canoe should not have the right to run over me in the stream. Seems a valid point yet. But, he probably did pay to rent the canoe. Just because I have a license to fish doesn't mean I own the whole stream. 'Multi-use' rears it's ugly head once again. The old idea is that you can play horseshoes on a tennis court; just be careful. And we will forever hear about the guide who proclaims he has the right of way because he is a guide.

We had a comment on the bulletin board recently which got me thinking about some of the times I have had over the years. I think I have mellowed some; sure hope so. I still remember one of the subtle ways I used to 'get even' with folks in canoes on the river in Michigan. For the most part, they would come by without incident. Nice people just out for a day drifting along with the slowly moving stream. We fished about an hour downstream from the rental place so we had an idea of when the flotilla would start and about when it would end. They rented several hundred a day back then and even though the fishing during the day was actually rather poor, we did it anyway.

Well, one of the questions, in fact the most often asked other than 'was I doing any good,' and 'how far it was to a certain bridge.' It was one of the take-out points and later in the day some would get nervous about how much longer it would take for them to get there. Well, we gave them the right information mostly, but, as the day drew on, more and more beer cans would be seen drifting along with the vessels. And an attitude would develop too, sometimes. If so, I would ask them where they were headed and they would give me the name of the point, and then, almost every time, they would ask, "Hey just how far is it to..." And that was my cue.

I would pretend to be thinking as they went along, passing me and drifting on downstream, then as though it finally came to me I would say, "Not too far, just past the falls!"

My revenge at last. Lord how I loved doing that. I suppose I might have messed up a few folks, but remember, I paid to be out there. Sometimes I could hear them muttering things like "Falls? What falls? I don't remember any falls." Then they would try to holler back at me. My hearing failed me completely at the time. I pretended not to hear them at all.

So where does all of this leave me today? I think I have chilled out a little. I guess unless something really disturbing developed I would probably just toddle off and do my thing someplace else. I prefer to remember more than getting into a confrontation over a fishing spot. It's just a fishing after all. Life is short, way too short for me to play those kind of games. And I guess, to be honest, I really didn't like doing it even then. But I did it anyway. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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