South Platte

January 29th, 2007

Tributary Nine
One Yuppie, Two Yuppie, Three Yuppie Fishermen
By Carl Pudlo, Colorado

"The proud and arrogant man—"Mocker" is his name; he behaves with overweening pride." Proverbs 21:24

Often times I had hoped the man I became friends with, the South Platte story-teller, would be my own personal mentor on fishing the famous river. Some of his stories included descriptions of fisherman for which he had nothing but pure disdain. Although he never expounded on any incidents that caused the contempt he had for certain fishermen, he was able to accurately describe the type of fisherman for which he had no respect. He also described incidents where the fishermen he disrespected were given their come-uppance. On one occasion when I ran into the man I wanted as a mentor, he detailed fly-fisherman he described as 'yuppie' fishermen, and then went on to explain the lessons he had learned from them...

"Every now and then, I run into a fisherman who really rubs me the wrong way. The first indication I get of this type is the way the fisherman is dressed and by the accompanying utilities adorning his attire. The typical 'yuppie' fly fisherman comes well prepared with every imaginable fly in several silver metal fly boxes. The flies are neatly arranged by size and type, each type in a separate box. One box will contain all the dry flies, a second box all the nymphs, a third has all the wet flies, and a fourth filled with streamers. This overkill of flies is supplemented with a tackle box containing even more flies and the basic accouterments of a fly tying kit to create perfect 'match the hatch' flies able to catch everything that swims within ten feet of the fisherman, including the kitchen sink. I half expect the yuppie fisherman to carry a size two weighted treble hook to snag the kitchen sink and creel it for the indoor plumbing he wants in his yuppie cabin in the mountains.

The typical yuppie fisherman has the thousand dollar graphite rod, and the custom case. A special cloth is used to wipe down with custom made graphite rod with polishing oil after every use to hide any flaw. The yuppie fisherman has the typical baseball cap advertising where he bought the cap and, no doubt, where he bought everything else he carries. The waders are the most expensive money can buy, usually heavy for warmth, stocking feet, with custom wading shoes. Trailing behind the yuppie fisherman is the five dollar net he uses for catching several six or seven inch trout he takes home and proudly proclaims "supper."

The most despicable piece of apparel sported by these yuppie aficionados is the fifty dollar half length fly vest, the one with thirty or forty pockets, the dyed sheepskin patch for loose flies, and the attached pocket in the back for fish. Dangling from the top front pocket is a finger nail clipper suspended from a retractable string. It probably cost in the neighborhood of 5 dollars at a custom fly shop, but can be obtained at a nearby Wal-Mart for fifty cents. I can just imagine what the yuppie is carrying in the pockets, 3 extra reels with three different lines, level, double taper, and weight forward. Other pockets might contain dry fly solution; fly line cleaner, extra leaders, tippet material, and the 4 different fly boxes. Tightly wrapped around the yuppie is a belt just below the pectoral muscles to keep any water from filling in the waders in case the yuppie swims instead of fishes. If the yuppie takes a tumble in the faster currents of the South Platte, the weight of all the junk in his vest pockets will probably carry him straight to the bottom anyhow. If he drowns...no real loss, and the loss will probably make the resulting collective gene pool more intelligent.

The first of the "yuppie" fisherman I have encountered is now a regular fishing companion of mine. I remember the first time I went fishing with him. He was adorned with the typical yuppie dress, the vest, the clippers, the baseball hat, the fly boxes, a chain stringer, and, most laughable, the net dangling six feet behind him. I knew the place I would take him for his first fishing trip with me, a place packed with tag alders, scrub oak, and every other conceivable entanglement. I really am not fond of yuppie fisherman. I knew this person would want to fish with me again, so I wanted to break him of every intolerable habit as quickly as possible, thus I chose a place where he would get entwined in every possible way with that useless net. I figured a net dragged behind and tied to his wader suspenders would trap him everywhere we traveled along the river. I was right, much to my scheming amusement!

As he fished, I watched (and giggled) as the net captured several tag alder branches, and not one fish. We climbed over a beaver dam to get to a pool. I chuckled with delight as the net got wrapped in some chewed up aspen of the dam and pulled my yuppie companion down the dam, and onto his rump. I laughed heartily as I watched him sitting in six inches of water, countless weeds, and eight inches of black muck. I don't know how much muck and water were washed into his waders, but I knew it would soon reek of a rotting methane smell. I made sure I was always downwind after the amusing tumble.

Since it was his first real adventure in fly fishing, I tried to be helpful by showing him that the back cast had to be high to avoid any snags with tag alder and scrub oak around the many beaver ponds. I showed him how to gather fly line and lay it at your feet as you retrieved the line for the next cast. I showed him to stand along the shore and shallow parts of the water in places where you could make effective casts to promising holes, and to stand away from any ground clutter that would snag the fly line as it gathered by your feet. It was amusing to see my companion get his fly line tangled in small bushes. The amusement continued, at least for me, as I watched his dragging net get stuck on rocks, sticks, bushes, and even twisted around his leg as he tried to move from one beaver pond to the next. Several times when he got his feet tangled in his fly line, and his leader snagged on brush, he had to break off the tippet and tie on a new one. All the times he was getting tangled and entwined in all the hazards I purposely placed before him, I was laughing with delight to myself. The slapstick action was at times more than I could bear!

With all the mirth I had been enjoying at the expense of my novice companion, he was still able to get in some good casts and occasionally miss a fish. Near the end of the day, he was at a nice hole above a beaver dam near the truck. I could see he had been broken of some annoying novice habits. The net was now neatly tucked in the back of his waders where he could easily reach it. He was not letting out an abundance of fly line to get tangled in the bushes near him. He was choosing places to stand where he could cast to the holes and not get his back cast tangled in the bushes behind him. It was a tough day for the rookie, but he came through with flying colors. His first encounter could have been a bitter experience, but that last hole he fished charmed the rookie into a deeper understanding of the hunt for fish. With one of the last casts of the day, my companion hooked and creeled a fat fourteen inch brown trout. It was the catch of the day, and that one fish brought an ear to ear smile to my companion that is permanently etched in my mind. One reward of fishing with rookies is to see the twinkle in their eyes that expresses the magical feeling of being hooked on fishing, and not catching fish.

I encountered another yuppie fisherman on the South Platte while fishing with my companion Zac who was only fourteen at the time. It was the fall of the year when catching fish is difficult because of the clarity and shallow depth of the water. Zac wanted to fish his favorite spot, a place were referred to as Zac's rock. When we got there, Zac was disappointed because the hole was occupied by a yuppie. Zac and I went downstream about 200 yards and decided to fish together moving upstream. By the time we finished fishing the 200 yards, we figured the yuppie would be gone. Alas, he wasn't. So we sat by the bank for twenty minutes until the unsuccessful yuppie moved away from Zac's rock.

Zac wasted no time in going to his favorite rock and started fishing a streamer. After a couple dozen casts and no apparent luck, I watched Zac reel in, change flies, and add something to the tippet. The upstream yuppie also watched intently as Zac adjusted his tackle. After a couple more unsuccessful casts, I saw Zac set the hook, and so did the yuppie. Zac caught and released a 12 inch brown. Déjà vu, just three casts later, Zac caught and released another nice brown, much to my amusement and the chagrin of the yuppie. It was so ironic to see a yuppie fisherman with his five hundred dollar rod, expensive waders, custom vest, and countless dozens of flies upstaged by a teenager with a forty dollar rod, Goodwill waders, and homemade flies. After the second fish, Zac came back to me sitting and watching from shore. I asked him what fly he changed to and why he had quit after the two fish he caught.

"I had no luck with the streamer I had on because it was too close to the surface. I put on a weighted streamer and added a split shot sinker so I could get it to the bottom."

"Why did you quit?"

"That guy upstream from me started giving me dirty looks after I caught the second trout.

Enough said about that yuppie fisherman, but it left a feeling of pride in my spirit to see one of my young companions out-perform a 'seasoned yuppie.'

Many times I have encountered the typical yuppie fisherman on the trout stream, and I felt compelled to involve myself in a game of one-upmanship. It is really no fun to get in that type of game unless it comes in a purely innocent, unintended, and most fortunate way. I recall fishing a stretch of water downstream from a yuppie, but still close enough to see his success. He was fishing a dry fly and I could readily see he was having no success. I watched as he frequently switched to another fly. I patiently waited for the yuppie to move upstream because he was walking right through the best part of a bend in the river that held nice fish. After he passed the productive bend with nary a look from any feeding fish, I waited for the water to settle and clear from his whip-like fly casting and bottom-muddying wading. I moved into position to cast across and upstream to the valued bend.

While the yuppie was still able to see me, I made sure that every fish I caught was played and released with the most exuberance and joy I could muster. I remember him turning and observing me as I caught and released four brown trout on four successive casts. Every time I moved upstream I was careful to walk with a minimum of disturbance to the water around me. The muddy bottom barely added any discoloration to the water as I moved upstream with stealth. Each move upstream consisted of only three to four baby steps. Then I would cast 35 feet upstream and allow my streamer to pass through the water with the most action I could twitch into the end of the twelve feet of leader and tippet. Each time I stopped I would catch and release two or three fish, and each time the fish would break the surface of the water with as much volatility I could get the fish to muster. Each time the fish broke water the yuppie would turn back and view my success.

I expected the yuppie to walk the shore downstream to me to soak in the techniques I was using to be so successful. I was almost embarrassed at my success over the yuppie, but then I remembered it was I who followed him through the best bend of the river where he disturbed the water in every conceivable manner any rookie could. I remembered he was the yuppie, and I was the one who found success after he had the first opportunity. I remembered I was the one who had the right to despise the yuppie who couldn't convince even the most inexperienced of fish to present itself to his dry fly.

But with the right to follow a yuppie fisherman and fish after his mistakes it is also my responsibility to allow anyone the access to the areas I fish. I do not have the right to judge another fisherman. I do not have the right to coerce other fishermen into doing things in a way I approve. I do not have the right get others to flee the area I want to fish through intimidation. Every fisherman has as much right to the river as I do. It is by the justice of God that I realized my arrogant and prideful manner of one-upmanship has no room on a fishing stream. I am only using the property of God for the short time I am here on earth, and I need to be the best steward of God's gifts as I can. I am a successful and fortunate fisherman only by the grace of God, and I have a responsibility to share his creation with other fishermen, inept though they may be.

To be continued... ~ Carl Pudlo, Colorado

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