Full Combat Shopping, Part 2
On my trip to beautiful Montana, I have
my tying kit with me, but after fishing
all day and rehydrating all evening, I'm
too tired to tie. So, in standard male
shopping mode (get to the store, purchase,
leave), we pull into West Yellowstone. I
need to buy some flies, get a Yellowstone
license and info on Slough Creek in the Park.
By Frank Reid
We hit the fourth shop on the main street
of town. We figure that you don't want to
go to the first place you see, as they are
there to grab the truly desperate. So by
going to the 4th place, we'll have weeded
out the places catering to the wanna-be fly
fisherman. Hmm, that brewpub is up the
street a bit. Maybe we'll go there after
we get the stuff we need. This should only
take 5 minutes.
My fishing buds and I line up at the counter
to get our licenses. There's a fan blowing
from the back corner of the store. A nice...
cool...breezeARRRGH! I can smell it! It's...
It's FEATHER PHEROMONES!
A shudder runs through my body starting at my
wallet. I.. must.. resist...I...am...in...
mall...uh, male shopping mode. Leave the store
NOW! But I can't...A little switch has been
flipped in my brain. My fishing buddies have
seen this before and start screaming "INTERVENTION!"
But it's no use. Jekyll and Hyde, Kent and
Superman, Parker and Spiderman. They've all
gone through it. I change. I am Fly Mall
I shake off their restraining hands as I'm
inexorably drawn to the back and sides of
the store. Bins and bins of flies greet
my eyes. Size 16 extended body grey drakes,
tungsten cone head laced Autumn Splendors,
even hair wing PMD emergers.
My fingers act on their own, pick up a gross
of little plastic cups and proceed to fill them.
Size 20 bead head pheasant tails embed themselves
under my nails. I ignore the pain and follow
the scent trail. There it is, the fan. It sits
in front of the hackle display, seductively
oscillating, calling my name "Frrraaaaannk,
Frrraaaaannk, Frrraaaaannk" in a susurrating
whisper. And next to the fan, the mother load.
The discount bins. Oh, you evil fiends!
My bleeding mitts paw through the bins. 10
packs of chenille for 5 bucks, pink raffia for
scuds, peach baskets full of half-priced hackle.
There is more. I move down the wall, grab
two empty peach baskets and start pushing
full skeins of variegated chenille into them.
Suddenly, I now have two fly shop clerks as
personal shoppers. They recognize the signs.
Two others are restraining my buddies by
explaining the Yellowstone fishing regs in
extreme detail. A fifth keeps pointing the
fan at me.
I turn the corner and confront a confused
6-year-old. He looks in my baskets. I can
tell he wants my stuff. "Mine, Mine, all mine!"
I gurgle as I get to the selection of plastic
nymph body forms. I clear the rack. The small
child follows. I run to the checkout counter,
trampling the young man in my haste. I must
put my scent on the items and mark my territory.
Ah, time for the plastic.
The clerk swipes my card as 4 registers ring
my purchases. I grab my loot, license and run.
I have the scent now, it pours from the other
shops. I run across the street and am struck
by a chevy with Florida plates pulling a 5th
wheeler. The bumper wraps around my thigh.
I'm unaffected. I am Fly Mall Shopper Man!
In the next shop, the story is the same.
The first shop has sent out the alert.
I'm greeted at the door by the whole staff.
Oval stickers with river names, a gourd with
trout painted on it, a wading staff that
doubles as a whiskey flask. I move on.
Ah, there's the microbrewery. Time to rehydrate.
This also affords the local constabulary time to
put up road blocks for all the streets I'll cross
and get the parade permit for my growing troop
I hit the streets again and find the specialty
shop that sells custom dyed hackle, caribou,
pine squirrel, even whole beaver pelts. As a
bonus, they've cornered the market on Zelon.
But no longer, its all mine. More peach baskets,
the plastic begins to smoke. Time to go, time to
rehydrate. Again and again, shop to shop.
Three hours later, the final shop, more flies.
And then, there they are. My personal Holy
Grail of Fly Fishing. Light falls on them
through the skylight. It's a religious moment.
I approach, touch, fondle... A bin full of,
dare I say it, size 8 Kauffman's golden stone
nymphs with Madam X-style rubber legs and
custom angora/silk/Angelina fibre dubbed bodies
(hook barbs pre-crimped). The credit card bursts
into flame from the friction. My day is done.
(WARNING: This is a work of fiction.
It is a federal offense in most states and a
hanging offense in Montana to attempt to explain
the Yellowstone fishing regulations to another
person. Do not attempt this at home.) ~ Frank Reid
Born and raised in Southern California, my mother
taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the
piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out
on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air
Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so
stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000.
I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe,
from the deserts of California to the Philippines,
Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha,
Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between.
These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens
to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore
area as a computer consultant trying to earn
enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip.
My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my
fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely
daughters. ~ FR
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