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April 26th, 1999
A Fine Art, Part 1
by Charlie Kroll
From Pools of Memory published by
Frank Amato Publications.
I mentioned in the forward that this was not to be another
"how-to" book. However, to properly record my most memorable
experiences I felt it imperative to include certain highlights of
a little-publicized, but nevertheless prominent, phase of the
angling craft. As Cervantes remarked, "There's no taking trout
with dry breeches."
I can claim with some pride that falling in is an art I have
studied all my angling life. Many unreasoning fishermen think of falling
in as simply getting wet. Not so. When the proper grace and
finesse are mastered there can be many precise variations of this
theme, all truly magnificent in scope and virtruosity. Both before
and after my cane days I have managed to fall into nearly every
river I have fished and my stature as a seasonsed performer is
perhaps best characterized by my remorseless search for new
fields to conquer.
Let's start with the simple forward and backward falls and
then explore a few of the more complicated and graceful forms.
The angler will do well to remember that in falling forward any
element of clumsiness should be avoided. The basic tactic is to
wade cheerfully upstream (or downstream) until the right foot
can be placed firmly beneath an underwater root or similar
obstruction. The fall forward should be executed quickly
with both arms extended upright. A loud cry of "Aaaarghhh!"
is optional but the entire body should be immersed, insuring
that no dry articles of clothing remain. Further immersion can
be accomplished by trying to retrieve the headgear or other
accouterments being carried rapidly downstream.
The backward fall is quite similar except that it is triggered
by the left heel being placed firmly upon the side of a round
and algae-coated boulder.
Having mastered the basic forward and backward falls, the
angler can then progress to the more complicated forms of immersion.
Generally I find it best to reach a wader-high point toward the middle
of the river and reserve the thrill of the actual maneuver until an
attempt is made to retreat to the bank.
On Colorado's Blue River I achieved quite a rare form of the art
by becoming completely soaked in a mere six inches of water.
Hard to do, you say? Yes indeed by being far from a neophyte
in this art I succeeded splendidly, as follows: A good fish was
rising under the opposite bank. The river was wide at this point
with a strong tongue of current down the middle which would
have created impossible drag. So I waded out. As I reached the
central current I found myself among round, slippery rocks with
about two inches of freeboard on my waders. Carefully I laid out
line. The third cast fell right, there was a sudden boil and I struck.
I dared not move but calling on all the skill and experience of many
years I eventually brought to hand a lovely three pound brown. My
back was turned toward my own bank and turning around was a
nightmare; the strength of the current making it dangerous to lift a
foot from the bottom. However, I managed it eventually and edged
out of the current and into the stony shallows. I had taken a good fish
under difficult conditions and hadn't even allowed a cupful into my
waders so it was with a feeling of no small achievement that I strode
out for the bank, only to encounter in mid stride an infinitesimal ridge
of rock that effectively checked the forward movement of my feet.
Not so the rest of my body which followed through quite beautifully. It
was at this moment that I realized the truth of the statement that water
will always take the line of least resistance - in this case down the neck
of my shirt and on down to my socks. I had successfully complete the
Forward One-Half Gainer, with complete saturation, in six seconds.
~ Charlie Kroll
Continued next time.
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