Archive for April 26th, 2009


Asleep At The Switch (Confirmation of ‘you look like a train wreck’)

Montparnasse, Paris, 1865

Montparnasse, Paris, 1865


Fly Fishing & etiquette’s oddities

dark_screamIn my life, I have fished with all manner of gear. I am still comfortable throwing hardware (spinners, and spoons), or using a sometime educated thumb on a level wind. All fishermen are territorial by degrees and, to me, no one seems more territorial than a fly fisherman. Don’t step in below him on the hundred yard long drift or you will receive dirty looks or worse. Drift fishermen in a boat are the same way as they vie for the untouched hole first thing in the morning. Bank bound drift fisherman get up at 0-dark-30 to be first on a drift or hole.

Generally, the drift fisherman will let you cut in below on the bank as long as you don’t crowd him or mess with his cast-drift. A fly fisherman scoffs at the ten anglers occupying a hundred yards of drift from the head to the tailout.

Now, two handers I can see. Room is needed and the expectation is there to work down through a run, step by step. A single hander working up or down stream through pocket water is less apt to fuss if someone comes in above or below. Is it the solitude interrupted by Earl and Frank as they noisily cut in? Is it the disturbed fish that you won’t get and they won’t touch? Is it that they will get that fish that was meant for you and will damn well kill it? I think it is territory of first take. You don’t mind if they follow the etiquette of cutting in above, into already worked water that must be devoid of fish or your masterful skills would most probably induced the take. It is all very awkward to watch and listen to as a neoprened gear guy nods politely ‘good morning’ and enters the stream fifty feet below you…a virtual mile to gear guys…and you lay verbal claim to the river from Maupin to Max Canyon. Ok, maybe not that bad. And, rarely that crowded to warrant a tizz fit that only makes you look like (no offense to my brethren across the pond or a private club here) like a tweed covered arrogant twit on a private beat. 

arrogant-2Now before you think I am not capable of such behavior or that I think I am superior, I am not. If I am camping, the arrival of the Beverly Hillbillies with quads, boom boxes and screaming kids sets me off into a territorial, dirty looks giving mode with gazes sending mental daggers ‘you better pick some place else to camp and not beside me, you bunch of a…….’ See, I am just as territorial.

Recently, I commented in a post of fishing the Sandy R. re an outting in which a sled came upstream close to our drift. The two gear guys exited the boat not thirty yards above us. That should be good, but they invaded something else I hold equally dear, and I suspect most of you do also, our solitude. My sliced and diced previously unsullied father-son time, with an amazingly loud music blasting from headthe sled and the two twits slinging corkies and eggs working down our way, as if meth were coarsing through their veins.

This reminded me that yes, fly fishermen are sometimes rightfully perceived as arrogant buffoons, but let it be said that the same ilk that spew forth empty egg/shrimp containers, gobs of fishing line, cigarette butts, beer cans and Mepp’s packaging along the shoreline are equally rude and arrogant and often just shy of a genetic alteration, were fly fishermen more inclined to carry armaments. 

This confusing rant is borne from…the hell if I know…just pause and weigh how to be most respectful to whatever type of fisherman you encounter. Manners, social graces and a smile or smirk go a long ways to taking away your intrusion into their solitude, reverence, memory, ‘the moment’.              

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April 2009

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