November 29th, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Stupid Moves

By Angler Dave

If you spend anytime in the out of doors, sooner or later you are going to either witness, or more than likely be the originator of a stupid move. Be honest. We've all had them and know what they are. They are those "if hindsight was 20/20" decisions or actions that have caused us some embarrassment, or a "man am I lucky" type of encounter.

Most of the times stupid moves are what they are; stupid! Like driving all the way to your favorite fishing spot and after arriving realize you left your reel on the table at home. Or you forgot to put your waders in the trunk and it's too cold to wet wade. Or realizing after arriving at your destination, all your accessories, nippers, tippet material and such are still on your lanyard and your lanyard is in a pocket in your float tube and you're not tubing today. Sometimes stupid moves can be costly. Such as, driving off after your done fishing, not knowing you left one of your fly boxes on the roof of the car. Or, leaving your fly rod strung and closing the door breaking off the tip.

Except for bruising one's pride or ego or creating an unexpected cash flow problem, they do very little in the way of bodily harm. But on those rare occasions stupid moves can transform themselves very quickly into a heart stopping or, life threatening experience. Take for example someone forgetting to anchor their kayak while fishing for stripers and all of a sudden the tide carries that kayak across the inlet and you have to swim after it. Only problem is that you left your PFD in the kayak and it's a long swim. But you decide to swim after it anyway. However, just as you get about two thirds of the way, you begin to have serious doubts as to whether or not you'll make it. And your life starts passing before you. Stupid move.

I remember recently watching on one of those TV news magazine shows, the story of a young man who, although an experienced hiker and mountain climber, went hiking into a remote part of Utah. While hiking an 800 pound boulder fell on his right hand and wrist pinning him to a narrow canyon wall. Six days later and after amputating his right arm, he barley made it out of that canyon alive. Unfortunately he did not let anyone know where he was going or how long he intended to be gone. Stupid move.

My first stupid move I can recall was when I was around twelve years old. It was my first over night camping trip as a Boy Scout. My father had given me a hatchet to take along to cut firewood with. My mother was against me taking it, afraid I would lose it. My parents were married in the early 30's and they found this hatchet in the very first house they lived in. So I guess there was some sentimental value with it. Well her premonition came true. I left it out in the woods and try as I may never could find it. In all honesty, I don't know if it was because my mother knew I would lose it or a stupid move that caused that hatchet and me to become separated.

The second stupid move I remember, although I'm sure there may have been one or two others I have forgotten about, from my youth happened when I was around seventeen years old. We lived in upstate New York and were subject to some brutal winters in both the amount of snow and low temperatures. It was January and I had been hunting rabbits in an area north of town. It was actually on a section of land that belonged to my older brother. Through Bob's property ran a small insignificant stream or creek. Insignificant in that it held no fish. Something I determined after spending countless hours through keen observation and returning empty handed each time I fished it.

However, this stream was always flowing and beavers even used a portion of it to dam up and create a nice little pond for themselves. During the winter, the narrower sections would freeze over, but walking across its widest part was always a delicate affair and risky at best. In fact a prudent person would walk back up to the narrowest part and cross there. But what do you expect from a teenager? Especially a teenage boy who likened himself to his hero, Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans!

The day had been sunny and for January unseasonably warm. The temperature was somewhere in the low to mid-thirties. Warm enough to feel good on your back and prompting one to unzip the red and black Mackinaw wool hunting coat, but cold enough for long johns and wool socks. I had taken a few rabbits and was walking back to my dad's car when I came upon the stream. Snow covered and appearing quite safe I started walking across until almost halfway when I heard the crack and I went through the ice. Not being very deep, I went in up to my waist. Then my feet slipped and now I am soaked from my neck down. I managed to get out but faced a long wet walk to the car. It was late afternoon and the sun along with the temperature began to drop.

By the time I reached my dad's car my clothes and most of my body was frozen. Through stiff cold clothing I managed to find the car keys and shivering wildly unlocked the door climbed in and started the engine. I don't know how long I sat there but it was well after dark before I got home. Unfortunately my thawing clothes left a big wet spot on the driver's seat and refroze over night. That next morning when my dad sat in the car to drive us to church he uttered a string of phrases in French. Words that if translated would not be thought of as appropriate language before entering the House of the Lord.

I've had my share of stupid moves as an adult as well. While I've never left a reel home, I have arrived without my vest or tackle pack. Or of all things, tipping over a canoe, while playing a ferocious bluegill. To this day, I still don't know how I managed that one. Oh, and I've tied up a bunch of Woolly Buggers, some weighted some not and not being able to distinguish which is which. I now tie a different head on the weighted ones, using red thread.

Once on an early summer day some years back, when we were living outside of Austin, Texas, and I had gotten up early to go fish a nearby reservoir. From previous outings, I knew it would be a fine morning for using top water bugs until the sun came up and then subsurface once it was high. In a hurry to launch my boat, I forgot to tie the bow rope, as was my custom, to the bumper of my pickup. After launching my boat, I got out of my truck only to notice my boat floating ever so slowing away. And yes, my PFD was in the boat as well. Having no change of clothes in the boat and being still somewhat dark, I decided to strip down and go for a swim. Well I retrieved my boat, tied it to the dock and walked back to my truck to get dressed. As luck would have it, just as I was putting my clothes back on another vehicle drove up. A few minutes sooner and those two young children in the car would have been exposed to not only the sun rising but a moon in the parking lot as well.

I could go on and on relating a host of other stupid moves that have occurred. But why expose myself to more embarrassment? Like I said, we've all done them. To continue on would only cast serious doubts as to whether or not I should be left alone in the out of doors, or whether I should not be allowed to venture out without adult supervision.

So the next time you experience a stupid move, remember you're not alone. In the words of Red Green: "I'm pulling for ya! We're all in this together." ~ Angler Dave

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