I've never been cool. This is a fact I learned in high school cruising around in an '87 Ford Escort (I graduated in '97). I try and do cool things, but it never works out for me. Lately I've been trying to be a cool fly fisherman. Nobody ever told me all the damned things you need to know and do to be a cool fly fisherman. So, now that I've embarrassed myself enough to trying to say things like: "Wooly Bastard" and "Bitch Crack Nymph," I've quit trying to pretend to know what the hell I'm doing out there.
I've lost all pride. If you see me on the Middle Provo, I'm the guy with his line tangled in the only tree 20 yards away from the river. I'm the dork with the giant-ass fishing vest because I keep every damned fly I've ever been sold in some pocket. I don't care. I'm not cool.
This acknowledgement forced me to ask for help. So, one day in late May, I barged into Heber's Four Seasons Fly Shop and begged them for a fly that would catch me some fish. A skinny bearded guy sold me a pair of dark, narrow-spined little flies and said, "That should do it."
This guy was cool.
So, I tied that fly onto my line, drove down to the Provo River Restoration Project, parked the truck and waded out into a nice deep and slow drift. As usual, I had zero expectations of catching a fish and I tossed my line out upstream. Seconds later I was not surprised when I felt my line snag the river bottom. I was about to lose the brand new fly I had purchased just moments ago. No matter, I was prepared. I was going to have to come up with another fish story. Fish stories are just as important to fisherman as your gear, and like your gear, you've got to know how to use it. Here are some rules to telling fish stories:
Rule # 1: Never come home and say "I killed 'em!" Nobody believes this even when its true. Your success, real or fake, will be denied. Rule # 2: Never say that you were "skunked." This is not a fish story. This is the truth. Rule # 3: Know the fish that swim the rivers and lakes you fish in. If you come home from fishing the Provo and say you caught a couple of nice Blue Gills, people will laugh and tease you for the rest of your life. (Trust me, they will.) Rule # 4: When asked, "How big?" Don't use your hands to illustrate the size of the fish. Once you use your hands, everyone usually laughs as you go from small-to-big. Report the sizes in inches, and you'll be fine. Rule # 5: Remember to note that you were "bummed" that you forgot your camera.
So, as I began the routine of jerking my line from the river bottom, something unusual happened. I felt a wiggle, then a tug. It felt like a small hand was waving back-and-forth at the end of my line. I kept the tip of my rod up, reeled in slowly, allowing just enough tension in my line, and I'll be damned if it wasn't a fine brown trout fighting the good fight at the end of my line.
Mr. Cool at the flyshop made it happen for me. I caught a beautifully colored brown on his fly!
You don't believe me? I knew you wouldn't. That's why I remembered my camera. I finally felt cool.