Our Man In Canada
June 24th, 2002

Wandering Aengus
An Evening to Remember

By Elliott Deighton

We all have our memories of fishing trips. Most of them, I hope, are pleasant but some, I know, are not so pleasant. A trip to my local river some years ago proved to be both.

It was early June, Green Drake time and after catching three quick small brown trout, I made my way upstream to fish the best pool of the stretch-a big "S" pool that the locals know as the Brimstone Pool for it lies behind a little hamlet of the same name. Two trout were rising at the bottom of the pool at the far edge just behind a fallen cedar sweeper and I was totally concentrated on my presentation.

Then there was a voice behind me. "Oh f... Who the hell's in my f...g pool?"

With hands shaking and heart pounding like a jackhammer, I turned around to see two youths in their late teens tumbling down the bank towards the river. They must have come, I quickly deduced, from one of the houses that back onto the river.

"You'll have to excuse my friend" said one of the youths and continued with a grin; "He gets a little wacky with the wacky."

I laughed at his double meaning. "That's alright," I said.

"Would you mind moving up a bit then," he replied. "He wants to go swimming and you're in his favourite spot."

"You're kidding," I exclaimed. "The water's barely 65 degrees."

"Yeah, well I told you he was wacky."

To prove the point, his foulmouthed friend proceeded to remove his clothes. I stared in disbelief and moved out of the way.

Within seconds he was down to his underwear and heading for the water. The air turned blue as he stumbled among the stones, stubbed his toes in the process. He reached the pool, waded in at the deepest section, stepped over the drop off, and completely disappeared under the water.

I had visions of performing mouth to mouth on a stoned, drowning victim. But my concern, mostly for myself I might add, was quite unfounded, because he surfaced almost at once. He came streaking straight up and out of the water like a synchronized swimmer at the Summer Olympics. Judges would have given him a 9.8 for the manoeuvre had it not been for his agonized scream at the top of his trajectory.

"F...IT"S COLD!"

Current issue

He made it to shore in record time and I could have sworn that his feet never touched the water. As he stood on the bank shivering and cursing, I brought my attention back to fishing.

Amazingly, it didn't take me long to catch a 16-inch brown, which led me a merry chase up and down the pool until I could finally reach down and slip the hook out of its jaw. "Ah, man, what did you let it go for?" demanded the now half dressed swimmer.

"I don't like to eat fish," I lied, knowing that my conservation philosophies would be lost on these two.

"He loves trout almost as much as he does his wacky," said his friend. "You'd better keep the next one, if you don't want to p... him off."

The threat was obvious and I should have called it quits then and there. The river, however, would have none of it, for with the approaching dusk there were trout rising everywhere.

Like an addict looking for another fix, I continued fishing. I couldn't have stopped if I tried. After a few more casts I hooked the best trout of the day and I was in a real pickle. If I gave into the pair on the bank and let them have this close to 20-inch fish, I would hate myself for the rest of my life. But if I let it go, they would probably cause me bodily harm. What to do? If only I had gone home.

The fish raced up into the fast riffle, bent on wearing itself out in record time and, sure enough, by the time I had him turned back, I sensed most of his fight was gone.

The pair was right behind me now shouting encouragement.

"Don't f...g lose it!"

"Here comes supper!"

As visions of that magnificent fish lying gutted in their sink filled my head, the solution came to me. Backing off the pressure, I let the trout turn into the slower water of the swimming pool below me. The calmer water gave the fish a little energy and it bore down and away from me. It was, at that moment, a simple matter to clamp down on the line and let the tippet snap.

"Oh hell!" I feigned. "It broke me off. I'm sorry."

"Ah, that's alright man. You gave it your best shot."

"Yeah" said Foulmouth. "Happens to me all the time. That was one big f...g trout though."

I had to agree, glad they had fallen for my ruse.

As it was starting to get dark and finally having enough sense to leave while I was still in one piece, I bid the two good night. We parted on good terms with their inviting me to come back and fish their pool any time.

Driving home, I couldn't help but smile to myself. It had been an evening to remember and the memories would last a lifetime. ~ Elliott Deighton

We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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