A Mystery River and an Imminent Hangover

A strange thing has happened. I, the Agitated Angler, get to go fishing. That’s right. In less than a week I will be participating in the physical act of fishing instead of just writing, talking, reading, thinking and dreaming about it. Yep, actual fishing. For trout. In a stream. Or  technically it may be a river. To tell the truth, I don’t know exactly where I’ll be fishing, but I do know it’s within walking distance of the cabin I’ll be staying at near Boone, North Carolina.

See, one of my best friends is getting married soon and wanted to go skiing/snowboarding for his last great adventure as a single man (I myself chose the more classic route for my bachelor party and just got knee-walking drunk while surrounded by strippers, but what can I say, I’m a traditionalist.). Not one to throw myself down mountains for fun, I opted out of the skiing but was totally willing to go along for the nearby trout streams and mandatory beer drinking. So my friend’s brother, who is in charge of this event, managed to find a cabin to be our home base throughout the festivities within walking distance “to the river”.

I have received no info on which river.

Whatever the river/stream, this time of year I’ll probably spend my time slowly dredging deep holes with the usual southern Appalachian winter time fly combo of a flashy, heavy weight attractor pattern followed by a small drab nymph. Not the most exciting fishing in the world but it beats sitting in the house wishing I was fishing. And who knows, “the river” may be one of the tailwater fisheries in the area and I might happen upon a decent BWO hatch.

One thing I do know is that I’m woefully ill prepared. I haven’t fished for trout since May of last year and never got around to replenishing my box of nymphs, or my leaders, tippets, etc.. The leaders and tippets are a simple fix that just requires me to get off my fat ass and go shopping. The flies on the other hand are another matter.

I’ve been tying saltwater and warmwater flies almost exclusively for the past two years, the smallest of which have been size eight. So when I sat down recently to tie up a few size fourteen copper johns, well, the results were less than spectacular. Honestly, it was frustrating as hell; lots of breaking thread, using too much material, bending hooks and basically tying like a Goddamned amateur and I’m no amateur when it comes to tying trout flies. I’m not trying to brag but I’ve got multiple boxes of really nice dry flies I’ve tied down to size 24. I know how to tie small flies and I used to tie them well, but I guess tying small flies is nothing like riding a bike…

I have until this coming Friday to work my way out of my little fly funk and get some tying done. I also need to find my waders, my wading boots and all my warm moisture wicking under waders clothing. I need to make sure I know where all my trout fishing paraphernalia is and that it’s packed in my bag. I need to check out my 4wt outfit and make sure everything is good working order. I need to get a North Carolina fishing license. And because this is first and foremost a bachelor party, I need to splurge on a bottle of good bourbon and a case of nice beer.

This all has to be done by Friday. And considering this has taken me two days to type, all one handed, while holding a baby, Friday may be coming faster than I like.



Manipulating Your Children For Fun and Profit

With the recent birth of my third son I have found myself spending more and more time trying to imagine what the future will hold for my boys.

In a perfect world the family and I would relocate back to the coast in a few years, maybe back to the South Carolina lowcountry, maybe the lower Keys, I don’t know. Wherever it is, we’ll be close to my beloved saltwater again. There the boys will grow up chasing fish with me and work on becoming what the Hawaiians refer to as “watermen”; people who are equally proficient at all ocean related activities such as swimming, paddling, fishing, surfing, diving, ect..

With any luck the oldest will continue to do well in school, graduate early, go on to a good college and then to law school so he can become a great defense attorney, make tons of money and use his skills to keep his two younger brothers, one a talented but slightly wild chef that has made his reputation by perfecting Thai/lowcountry fusion and the other the best and most famous flats guide in the keys, out of the occasional trouble that they are bound to get into.  As they all get older they’ll one by one settle down, get married and have numerous children of their own to carry on the family name (Which, I want to point out, is by far the most important thing they can do with their lives due to the fact that I myself am the only son of an only son, have a fairly unusual last name and was the last of my line up until seven years ago, so breed boys, breed!).

But, as cliché as it sounds, what I truly want for my children is for them to grow up healthy and happy. Realistically, I know that events turning out the way I stated above are about as likely as catching a record tarpon and having my wife agree to a three-way with an available and willing Scarlett Johansson all on the same day. It’s just not going to happen.

This doesn’t keep me from trying to subtly encourage my boys to do my bidding though…

Teaching The Art of Fly Fishing (and how I may ruin my friend forever) Part II

The first thing I want to say about teaching my buddy Adam how to cast a fly rod last Saturday was that for the first time in years I was forced to actually stop and think hard about every aspect of my casting.

“So it’s all in the wrist?”

“What? No, no, no,” I said. “Like this.”

“Uh huh, so it’s in the wrist.”

I tried to explain that because I spent a lot of time fly fishing in tiny streams with lots of overhanging vegetation I developed a wristy cast and that he should try to avoid casting that way.

“What about the thing you’re doing with your other hand?”

“I’m not doing a thing with my other hand,” I inadvertently lied.

“Yea, you are. You keep pulling on the string.”

“Um… The line. I am?” I suddenly became conscious that I was double hauling my cast. “Oh, that. It’s called a double haul and it’s something you don’t need to worry about right now.”

And so his casting lesson went.

I soldiered on anyway and did the best I could to explain to Adam what was going on with his rod and line while simultaneously trying to figure out exactly what the hell I was doing to get my fly line where I wanted it to go. I guess I should be happy that casting has become such a natural thing for me but it makes me kind of a sucky teacher. It seemed though, by the end of the lesson, that he had the basics down.

After the casting lesson Adam asked me a few questions about the actual fishing part of fly fishing. This caused me to start in on a thirty minute one sided stream of consciousness rant about all things fly fishing. I think I got to “and fuck Brad Pitt and that shadow casting, A River Runs Through It bullshit” before I realized I’d lost him. So I decided to just give him a “how to” book so he could pickup some of the basics and threw in a couple of issues of The Drake and my copy of Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders by Gierach to get him in the proper fly fishing state of mind. I also told him to practice casting every chance he got and maybe find a good video or two to watch so he can see how a pro casts.

Hopefully for Adam this is the first of many steps to becoming an accomplished and well rounded fly fisherman. And if it isn’t? Well… I don’t like crowded streams and every little bit helps.


Experience Needed

I need to go fly fishing. Seriously, I need to wet a line, sling some string, throw some tight loops, what ever your preferred colloquialism is, I need to go do it.

It’s been getting bad. I’ve been snappy with my family (my wife would say snappy-er). I’ve been twitchy. I occasionally find myself watching our pet beta in an unwholesome way. Even most of my dreams have been about fly fishing lately.

Some are wonderful dreams featuring tropical islands, thrashing tarpon and clear blue water. Most though are nightmares of Lovecraftian proportions. In the last one, I went to fish a fast, clear mountain stream that morphed into a muddy pond as I watched. I remember thinking in this dream that I could still salvage the trip, all I had to do was find my streamer box. I rummaged through the cyclopean depths of my bottomless pack for what seemed like aeons until I pulled out a tattered and broken foam fly box that had one unraveled, black woolly bugger in it…

Now, I won’t claim that I woke in a cold sweat, screaming over this nightmare, but it sure as hell wasn’t a pleasant feeling.

The worst part of all this is that I can cure my affliction with a simple formula: me + fly rod + water = a much less agitated Agitated Angler. But, and there’s always a but, this formula won’t work without time + $$$$$, nether of which I have in great abundance at this particular moment.

There is some relief in the foreseeable future for my ailment though. My buddy who wants me to teach him to fly fish is coming over this weekend so at least I’ll get in some casting practice.

I also get to go to Charleston, SC at the end of February for a wedding. The redfish will be schooling on the flats and I get the mornings to work on catching some of them.

Not to mention that I found someone who wants to float the upper Broad river with me, which is one of the few bodies of water here in South Carolina with a population of smallmouth bass.

And in May I should be heading up to Wisconsin, where my wife will attend WisCon, “the first and foremost feminist science fiction convention in the world”, and I will spend time floating, drifting and swinging flies throughout the driftless region.

So, with these planed trips and the spur of the moment trips that I know I’ll make to local ponds to hit the spring spawn(s), I should be able to shake off this nasty case of what-ever-you-want-to-call-it and get on with my life. Unless the waiting kills me first.