By Ol' Red, Aurora, Colorado, USA
Bill Is A Great Big Liar
All fishing begins with a lie. And, if there is a Master of fishing, Bill is it. If you've
read his story, then you have swallowed
a rather skewed version of the truth. I know, I know. With Truth there are always
three sides: His side, Her side, and what actually happened. I will try to rise above
the singularity of "my side" and attempt to tell the truth, or at least a version that
comes as close to it as possible while never exaggerating the size of a fish, the
actual temperature reached by the term "cold," or, Bill's hair loss.
It's true that Bill is an excellent angler. His specialty is flyfishing. He does in fact have
hair loss, but the way its fallen out makes him look like an Irish monk, and a fairly cute
one at that, so things work out. It is also true that he did in fact finally get me to watch
A River Runs Through It to peak my interest in flyfishing, but it would
be far more accurate to use the term "hounded near to death" rather than his usage of
"I suggested she watch . . ." He did not lie about it not being entirely about flyfishing.
And yes, I was absolutely taken with the displays of Olympic-type casting. What can
I say. I was taken with the sheer beauty of the art. And, I do have to agree with Bill on
this point, anyone watching that casting and not being taken with it is a souless bait
One point I do have to give Bill, and it's a big one, he let me jump into casting. He even
warned me when cars were coming and how fast I'd better jump to the lawn. After an
hour of casting with his direction (not to mention a comb on the road and something fuzzy
on the end of the leader with which to hit said comb) he pronounced me "a natural." I have
no idea what that means, but it seems to give him the gripes when other flyfisherpeople
watch me cast and call their friends over to watch as well. That actually happened at The
Frying Pan river late evening and it confused me but made him move downstream a bit
further, thereby giving me even more room to let fly my line. Like I said, things work out.
Also true is the fact that I am a Fishing Heathen. Yes, I do wear jeans I had in the closet
since the '70's. Yes, I do have a small, waterproof flybox which holds not only my flies,
but a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, my bottle of floatant and my fishing license. It's all I
need except for my nips, which I clip to my tee shirt pocket. Oh, also, I have a hat. A
nice, Gary Borger-style fedora. So says Bill at any rate, and I do have to admit, he knows
his Gary Borger. Except I don't think that Gary ever hot-glued a mouse fly (which I
thought was cute) and several other totally unrelated flies that I found in trees, under
rocks and oddly enough, on the back of my jeans once I got home. I did find one in a
fish once, but I dropped it in the river because the fish suddenly decided to swallow the
fly that I had in fact latched him with. And it isn't like I've never fished. The 'Trinidad' Bill
refers to in his story is not the Trinidad in Colorado. I grew up in the Carribean fishing,
not with a pole and all that fancy stuff, but a coffee can with a stick of wood nailed through
the center, my line wrapped around the can. I am used to "casting" by letting out a lot of
line, swinging it over my head in circles and letting fly. I also dig my own worms (which
I don't consider "icky"), cut my own bait, and, on the occassion, have been known to
jump into the water with my hunting knife and slam it into the head of the first passing
object that looks edible. He had that part right.
Okay, on to the "Pan Fiasco." Let's see how this all started. He told me the part about
his yearly camping trip to the Frying Pan was "pretty much cathartic" and "almost a
religious experience." He also used that line we've all heard from anyone trying to rope
us into going fishing with them: "There's fish there as big as your leg!" There are no
fish as big as your leg, and we all know this so he wasn't fooling me on that point. But
his eyes light up at the prospect, and, I like to camp so I figured eh, why not. (Of
course the fact that he did fall to his knees was really unnecessary, but fun.) The part
about the thunderstorm was absolutely correct. Except I never used the term "horrific,"
more like "WOWSER! This is great!" But then, I wasn't driving. On bald tires. He has
his priorities. Safety is a big one, but only when it concerns water and rocks. It was
near dark when we arrived at the camping site (it was indeed as nice as he claimed
it to be, and the owners knew what they were doing), set up the tent (after he figured
out which thing went where and that he did have to use a rock to bang the stakes in
because a mere shove was not going to cut it in that wind), and cooked a nice hot
dinner, which we ate under the stars and a moon as big and bright as Bill's eyes
whenever the thought of him being up to his heinie in Frying Pan water hit.
He got up very early the next morning. He could afford to do that, as he had not
spent the night as I had, trying against nature, bone structure and simple physics to
ball himself up tighter and tuck the blanket so that every bodily part was actually
covered from the converging snow. These acrobatics on my part was made all the
more difficult by his insistence that HE owned ALL the covers and I could freeze
to death while he snored peacefully.
Yes, he did make the coffee, but it had nothing to do with gentlemanly behavior. It
was meant to be a sacrificial offering to the heathen Lady Of Ice that I had become
overnight. And a wrathful Lady I was indeed. He actually had the nerve to stand
outside the tent trying to convince me that it was warmer out there than where I was.
I was not about to give up my half hour of hotly debated and heroically won covers.
Especially as he was trying to hoodwink me yet again. I might have actually sucked
into that bait had it not been for the knocking of his chicken-legged knees. Yah. Warmer.
I crawled out. We had coffee. We had breakfast. A very good one. He's right about
that. We did make it to the river. It was indeed beautiful. More right for Bill. After this,
the stories take sharp turns to the right of truth and perhaps reality.
He caught fish. I did not. I never care if I catch fish. He cares very much if I catch fish.
Ever try to fish with a noodge on your back? Constantly? "Try this fly. Okay, now try
this one. I think it's too bright for them to bite. I think it's too cloudy. Excuse me for a
minute, I seem to have a 16 pounder on my line and I may need some help to wrestle
it in. Could you grab my net, dear?"
Never mind the fact that I'm standing on a waterfall trying to keep a foothold in
water cold enough to numb my feet to the point where they're swelling. Not that
I'm complaining about the cold here, mind you. I happen to like my legs going numb.
I figure when I finally snap an ankle because of a misstep, hey, it won't hurt as much
and I'll look fairly tough when the paramedics finally show up. Unlike Bill who jammed
this thumb (it is not in fact broken) falling against a rock, and then complained all day
that it "might be broken." He said this while wiggling it around. I prayed to the fishing
gods that some old, blind trout might mistake it for something yummy and just bite
it off. At least he'd have something to actually complain about, not to mention one
heck of a fishing tale that could actually be proven by him simply saying, "If you
don't believe me, count my thumbs."
It is now deep into October and he is still complaining about his thumb. Reminder
to self: make sure next fishing buddy has tougher bones.
To our good luck, that evening was quite pleasant and no one froze to death. We
ate outside and talked, then went to the tent and didn't fight about the covers. After
my promise to heat the tent with the campstove while he was sleeping, he took great
care to make sure I had my share of uncontested warmth. Even the morning was
decent, but the best part of the whole trip was the really terrific showers. Plenty of
very hot water and it came out strong and unrestrained. Another nice breakfast,
another trip past every single place I wanted to stop and throw a fly, and, once
again, back to the "Bill's Sweet Spot" that had only shown me scorn and ingratitude.
Except this time, his rod broke. After he had spent an hour donning his excessive
fishing gear. So there! He of course blamed me. I had dropped a case of Pepsi
on it or something. (A lie.) I fell in the very cold river. So there! The Fishing Gods
are a pack of happy campers with no care about the concepts of injustice. I went
numb. So what the heck, I went into the river deeper. I think my bra froze. But the
fish were going for my fly. HA! We had to piece together a rod from two rods.
I even offered Bill my rod. I would have offered him the moon and stars if only
he'd shut up for five minutes. We finally exchanged rods. Nothing bit. Bill rigged
for depth charges, his term for nymphing. He caught. My rod fell apart every 4
casts. I was happy beyond belief. I was about 100 yards downriver of Bill. The
day ended with Bill: 3, Me: Zip. Man it was fun!
On the way home, he decided to get even with me for every imagined injury and
took me up the side of a mountain on a road a guy in a goat cart would find terrifying.
There were no rails. True. There were sheer thousand foot drops. True. I am afraid
of heights. True. I am more afraid of going off a crumbling road in a car at a speed
of 30 mph with only a few thousand feet of open-air drop before a very sudden
rock stop. Very, very true. My toes left claw marks on his dashboard. True. On
the trip down where the road grew wide and happy, there were death threats made.
True. I intend to keep them. True.
I'm looking forward to the trip next year. True. But this time, we'll go before Labor
Day and we'll bring firewood and a heater for the tent. Absolutely true.
~ Ol' Red
Lighter Side Archive