LOST AND FOUND
I have always been generous about giving people flies that I tie. I was fortunate enough to have had other generous fishermen do the same for me as I was learning my craft so it just seems a natural thing to do when the occasion arises. Many times the act will result in an order for more of the same later on so that can be a bonus when it occurs. I never realized that this rather mundane act of kindness (and potential business) might one day have such huge ramifications for me.
I met Carlo at the local fly shop in early season. He was pouring over the fly bins and selecting patterns that were displayed on the "What They're Taking" board while I was staring at the tying materials wondering of there might be something that I did not yet own but just had to have. He asked if I tied my own flies and I replied that I did. He said that he wanted to learn to tie but he had just started fishing and he did not know much about it. I asked why he wanted to tie he replied that he needed to save money. I did not have the heart to discourage him on that count. So he continued, observing that if I tied I might be able to help him select a few flies that would work. He asked if I would mind. Of course I would help him. After helping him make a few selections, we exchanged a few more pleasantries, bid each other farewell and went on our way. Good deed done for the day. I gave it no further thought as this was a scene in which I had had a part many times over the years.
A few days later Carlo and I met on the stream and he was thrilled to tell me that he had indeed caught a few fish with my suggestions and he was eager to show me his setup and box. He had a Walmart rod with a leader with about 6 feet long, now well into the taper due to his unfamiliarity with the concept of adding tippet to the end. When he showed me his fly box he had about half a dozen well-worn dry flies, 2 Pheasant Tail nymphs, and a badly chewed Wooly Bugger. I came to realize that Daniel was as poor as he was pleasant. I then asked if he might be interested in fishing some of my flies to see how they worked. He was overjoyed as I gave him about a dozen of my favorite patterns, dry and wet and I showed him how to apply tippet to the end of a new leader in order to fish more effectively. Once again, he was all smiles. He thanked me had headed off to the water to try his luck. I would not see Carlo again for more than a month.
About two weeks ago, I walked off the stream in the dark and for some reason, instead of putting my rod in the trunk first, a habit I had developed after having once left a rod and reel leaning against the car and driven away only to discover my error the following night while preparing to fish once again, I leaned the rod and reel against the car. When I went to fish the following night I was horrified that I had, indeed made the same mistake twice. I was inconsolable as not only was my rather expensive setup gone; I had committed the same stupid act for a second time. For the next two weeks, despite the humiliation of revealing my stupidity to my fellow fishermen, I told nearly everyone I encountered my story in the hope that someone might know something about the fate of my rod and reel. I was desperate but no one could give me any assistance.
Two nights ago, I again met Carlo as we were both getting dressed for some time in the water. He seemed especially happy to see me as he approached my car. He asked if I had lost a rod and I asked if he had heard my story. He said, "No, but I have your rod in my car. I thought it might be yours because the fly that was on it looked like one you gave me." Needless to say, I was speechless. To consider the number of factors that had to line up for this to happen were almost supernatural. Carlo told me that he had driven by and seen the rod. He thought about leaving it for the owner to return but then figured that someone else might pick it up without having the intent to return it to the owner. He picked it up, examined it and having identified the fly, determined that it might belong to me. When I asked if he had considered just keeping it for himself, his reply was, "No. It's not mine. I know how bad I would feel if I lost my rod."
My faith in humanity restored, I needed to find a way to reward his class and integrity. I reached into the car and produced one of my dry fly boxes with about a hundred flies in it. (I carry WAY too many… but perhaps not in this case.) I told Carlo that I wanted him to have this box as a token of my gratitude. He hesitated initially but I reminded him, "Take it, man. I can make more." He took the box, shook my hand and said, "Ok, enough of all of this, let me get your rod so we can go fishing.' He began to walk away and turned, "Hey Shorty, when I run out of these can I buy some more off you."
"No Daniel. You cannot buy flies from me. Let me know what you need and you will have them."
Kindness is a currency that that can buy many things. Spend it whenever and wherever you can.