FIRST ON A FLY
I truly hope that someone out there that really wants to try fly fishing will read this story and then be willing to take the plunge and give it a shot. After all, if I can do it anyone can. I also expect that this tale will give some veteran fly fishers something to laugh at, and to be perfectly honest, I like to make people laugh. Ordinarily I would tell the reader here that the names have been changed to protect the innocent. However, the only ones in this tale are Jack and I. And since I figure neither one of us is very innocent I'll just use our real names.
My little brother lives near a very well-known trout stream and he decided he would take up fly fishing. He bought a beginners outfit and a book. I'm not sure how many trips he made before he gave it up, but he certainly didn't have any luck. Then one day he cleaned out his garage and gave me his rod and reel. That was my undoing, the start of it all. I couldn't get it to work either, but unlike my brother I didn't stop with the book and a few casts in the yard. I looked online, and I found the greatest website and the greatest group of people that I know of here on FAOL. I immediately registered and began worrying everyone to death with all of my dumb questions. One man soon took pity on me and realized I didn't live all that far away and invited me to come down for a day's worth of fishing. His name is Jack.
Now when my wife fusses about all the money this newfound hobby costs I blame Jack. That keeps peace in the family, because she actually knows my brother. I should have known it was going to be a costly hobby, because I spent all the money Santa Claus brought me on waders and a vest.
Then one sunny February day I made my first trip to the Duck River. Now I don't know about everyone else but I don't like to be late to anything. My wife however has never been on time for anything. When that great February day arrived, I was supposed to meet Jack at 9 sharp. My darling wife however handed me an insurance bill that needed to be paid that day and the insurance office didn't open till 8. I knew I couldn't make that drive in an hour, but I was sure going to try. I paid the bill first. After all, I'm not stupid and my wife told me to get that bill paid. Then I raced south as quickly as I could. Amazingly enough I didn't get a ticket, but I was still late.
Somewhere on the interstate I called Jack and told him I would be late. I had never met Jack, but after all he was a fisherman and fishing is serious business and I wasn't sure if I was going to get chewed out over the phone or not. He was kind though and told me to be careful. I thought to myself, "He's a fisherman, and fishing takes patience, maybe he'll be patient with me." I was determined however to be the best student he had ever had. Little did I know I was going to try his patience all day long.
When I arrived at the parking lot where we were to meet Jack was the only one there. I quickly introduced myself and apologized for being late. He had a rod already strung up and had me casting on the grass next to the lot within minutes. I told myself to be certain there would be no more delays or screw ups. I was going to be the best student he had ever had. He made several comments and gave me lots of tips to improve my casting. I was eager to learn and paid close attention to all that he said. Then he told me to suit up and we'll go fishing.
I eagerly put on my waders, which were all one piece and made of rubber. I put on my vest, but it was cold and I put a jacket on as well. Then Jack called me over to his vehicle and handed me a little box of flies. He and Warren had tied up these flies the night before and he was giving them to me. I held the little box carefully in my hands and looked at awe at the flies inside. I quickly strung up my little brother's old rod and wondered which fly I should try. I guess Jack realized then that I didn't have a clue what fly to tie on and he picked one out for me, a little olive soft hackle fly. I still have it, though I don't take it fishing, I've put it up for a keep sake.
I turned back to my rod when it happened. A gust of wind hit me from the side and all of those carefully tied flies flew out of the box. I froze and inwardly I shouted, "OH NO!!!" I quickly looked around, but Jack wasn't looking towards me. I immediately dove into action; I was going to be the best student he ever had. I bent over to retrieve the flies as quickly as I could.
There is a feeling that happens to a man, when the worst possible thing that can happen to a man happens. Even though he may not have ever experienced it before, he immediately knows what has happened to him. And he immediately knows that there is no hiding it. I experienced that feeling when I bent over to get those flies. And I also heard it, a sort of popping sound.
I grabbed up the flies and quickly stood back up. Somehow hoping that by standing up quickly I could somehow fix what had just happened. Perhaps someday in the distant future we'll be able to go fast enough to go back in time, but I know for a fact that quickly standing up on the banks of the Duck River one breezy February day did not allow me to go back in time and fix the hole that had just been torn into my brand new waders.
"This trip is over." I thought to myself, "so much for learning to fly fish." With a mighty sigh I turned toward Jack and confessed to him what I felt was the greatest blunder a fly fisherman could do, although, I didn't tell him everything. I didn't tell him I dropped those flies, in fact he still doesn't know it. At that time, for all I knew, that may have been a greater sin than bending over and blowing out the seat of my waders. Those flies were beautiful and I didn't want him to think I wasn't going to try to take care of them. Jack walked around and looked at my back side and decided the trip wasn't a complete loss. I could still use them for hip waders.
So to my complete surprise we went fishing. There were several places I had to walk around on the bank, but we went fishing. I was determined to not make any more mistakes; I couldn't believe we were still going fishing. We fished above the bridge and we walked a long way down below the bridge to a place where the water was shallow enough where I could wade and fish some more. I never took off that soft hackle olive fly, I was afraid I'd drop it.
Then it happened, I caught my first fish on a fly and it was a pretty little rainbow. As I reached down to wet my hand before handling the fish I know I had to be grinning from ear to ear. I remember telling the fish, and yes I sometimes talk to them, "I've got you hooked for a few minutes, but you've just hooked me for life." I stood in one spot in that stream and caught 5 rainbows. Jack stood on the bank and directed my casts and watched. At the 5th fish I suddenly realized he wasn't fishing and I asked him if he wanted me to move so he could fish. "No, you go ahead." was his reply.
Standing a little over knee deep in the middle of the Duck River I realized that Jack was enjoying himself as much as I was. So you see, if you are considering starting fly fishing and are a little scared to give it a shot, don't be. Because if I can stand in the middle of the Duck River in front of a veteran fly fisherman with a hole in my back side and catch fish then so can you.
A few days later, I had to take off work for a Dr.'s appointment. I made the appointment early, and I was there when he opened. As soon as the Dr. was done I drove to Bass Pro in Nashville where I exchanged my waders for new ones. I got waders that breathe and wading shoes. I then drove back down to the Duck and met Jack for another day's worth of fishing.
None of this would have ever happened without FAOL, I can't thank you enough.