May 23rd, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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What About Bob?
By Grant Ings (Yaffle)

"HI" came the voice form the other side of the pool I had been working for about an hour now. Up until now I had the pool all to myself. The fellow immediately swung his streamer in the pool, standing right there at the head. My first reaction was of somewhat annoyance. He'll probably spook any trout that may be lurking these waters. I always try to approach fish from downstream or the side, either that or keep low if tossing a streamer from up stream. Oh well, he is on the other side and the pool it is big enough for the two of us.

"What you got on there?" It was hard to hear the fellow over the sound of rushing water, the riffles were quite strong before dropping over a small boulder ledge into the head of the pool.

"I'm using an Adams" came my reply, I wanted to ask him what he was using but I didn't feel like yelling. Beside, I'm trying to get over his abrupt arrival. A minute ago I was alone and happy enough to be so.

I kept throwing my Adams Wulff up my side of the pool, trying to mind my own business.

"You're casting on the wrong side" came the strangers voice. What? oh, he could see that I was struggling a little with the wind.

"From over there," he pointed. "The wind would be to your back."

"Oh," I kept casting, or was that throwing into the wind. Was the wind the main factor for how one was to approach one's target, I didn't think so.

I wasn't sure what to make of this, I had read a nice bit about stream etiquette, but here, I can fish forever and a day and never come across another angler, let alone another fly fisher. There was part of me that wanted to tell him exactly what I knew about good stream-side manners, yet a part me was almost relieved to be sharing the same pool with another fly fisher.

With a few crazy thoughts going through my head, and a little frustration, (I still hadn't caught a thing this day), I heard a splash. From my peripheral vision, I see a trout lunging and turn my head in time to see it miss the fellows offering. Whatever streamer he was using this trout seemed to want it more than my size 12 dry fly.

I expected to see that trout come back at his streamer, but it didn't happen.

Then, as if the pool wasn't big enough, the fellow in knee-high rubbers, holding a fat fibreglass rod was coming straight way across the stream, above in the riffles. And then he makes a cast right into the current near the bank where I was working. I bit my tongue. Reluctantly, I reasoned, this fellow fishes the barren waters of the north as do I. I doubt he has read about who gets to cast where and when, I doubt he has any sense of stream etiquette, and why should he? I'll leave well enough alone and see what comes of this. But he is casting right in my lane, right where I am casting. I wasn't pleased.

Wouldn't you know it, after about two or three casts, he rises that trout once again. "Right there," he said "cast your Adams right there. You were here first."

I cast upstream from where I saw the trout rise, but my cast was out of his lane. I made a false cast, and determined to get it right, in spite of the wind. This time, the cast was right on, and that trout grabbed my fly like it was his last, well, it was his last. A short struggle, I stripped in the line and banked a nice 10" Brook trout. Close to trophy size on these waters.

As I picked the fish up, my new found fly fisher friend came over to congratulate me. I thanked him. "King of the pool, that's the king of the pool" the fellow kept saying. "Yeah, when you catch one like that you may as well be going, there isn't another good one, just little nippers left, because that's the king 'o the pool."

We introduced ourselves, "my name's Bob" said the unlikely fly fisher. An older fellow, about sixty, I would say, rubber boots knee high, wind breaker, baseball cap, with a Fenwick Fenglas rod and seemingly the only flies were the ones tied to his tippet.

"Is that a Muddler Minnow you have there?" I asked, I could see that it was, "That's my favourite streamer."

"Yeah, The trout eat them for food in the spring, and kill them in the fall because they steel their eggs. During mid-summer I catch most trout on this one," he pointed to the second fly of his tandem, a Woolly Bugger.

I was a little surprised by his answer, he seemed to know what he was talking about.

We continued to talk, about places we had fish and fish we had caught, we talked about flies and what trout like and why. Bob was generous with his information, and put me unto places I didn't know existed. I told him of a lake I fish every spring. He recognized it and mentioned it is full of Anthropoids. "Come with me" he said, and we walked towards his vehicle.

Bob opened the hatch of his little car and pulled out drawings of Anthropoids, about four different species. "Keep those" he said.

Bob told me how he had worked some sixteen years with his daughter for the government collecting insect samples from many different waterways throughout the area. He pulled maps out of his car and handed them along, the maps were marked with a couple fishing spots. Bob then past a photo along to me, it was a cougar, a picture his wife had taken. The cat sat still for the picture, as Bob explained it, the trees are full of snow and cats don't like to get wet, so it didn't move as his wife snapped the picture. "Keep that," He would say as he passed along each article of paper, "I've got more." We parted ways, and I felt much better for having run into Bob.

It turned out Bob knew plenty about fly fishing, Entomology, and just about anything related to catching trout in the area.

I found one place that Bob had mentioned to me, it has since become one of my favourite pools.

I fished the area much during the next year or so and no trace of Bob. I would come back to that same pool from time to time, not because it was a particularly productive spot, but it was on the way, and maybe Bob would... Until one day, at that very same pool, I was standing in the very same spot, when I saw someone appear on the bank on the other side. I looked in the direction of the appearance and noticed this fellow was Bob. Bob waved, I waved back, no "Hi" or "what you got on?" this time, just a wave. As soon as he waved he turned around and made his way back to the trail. I watched him as he moved very slowly, shaky and every step very deliberate. I knew something was wrong, this man was full of life and tackling the riffle while waving a fly rod to get to this side, the last time I had seen him.

Bob made his way back the trail, up over the road side, across the bridge and back the trail to where I was standing. It hurt to watch him walk. When he did arrived he didn't stay long, there was still an enthusiasm in his voice for fishing. His voice however was stressed and he told me he had a problem in his knees, he wasn't specific, but did say that he was going cripple. Bob then made his way back to his vehicle and left. He didn't fish that day, at least not at that pool. He was, out with his fly rod and as long as he had enough strength to walk, he would fish.

I don't know if my path will ever cross Bob's again. It was two summers ago that last time we met. I don't know if Bob is still out there, making his way down a short trail to a trout pool for another cast. I really don't know if I'll ever see Bob again.

The only thing I do know for sure from all of this is, if I had let my first impressions of this fellow cloud my judgment of him, I would never have known him for the fine, generous gentleman that he really is.

The next time you have a pool to yourself, and that unlikely looking fellow appears from nowhere to cast a hook at your trout, just remember Bob, I know I will. ~ Grant Ings

About Grant:

I am a fly fisherman from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. I have been doing this some five years now. I started out trout fishing in my youth, growing up on the east coast of our continent (Newfoundland). The waters there are teeming with Brook trout. My first taste of trout from the surface was with a long Bamboo pole, a line tied to the tip and worm dangling from that. I remember as a little fellow about the age of five, as soon as my worm touching the surface a little brookie rising to grab it. I was hooked, this is fantastic I saw it all happen before my very eyes.

Since taking up the fly rod, I have also been tying all of my own flies, built a couple of rods and can't leave things well enough alone, always tying leaders, making lanyards and trimming, adjusting, adapting just about everything fly fishing related. ~ Grant

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