"The thought of going back to camp skunked and having
my wife and five year old son was too much to bear"
Fly fishing is supposed to be a peaceful, serene sport, but this day was different. Today I would be fishing against the clock to prove my very manhood. It all started innocently enough. My friends, Steve, Wayne, and I took our families on a camping trip to northeastern Washington. We though since we were close to a good trout river we might be able to sneak out for a quick fly fishing trip.
The next morning, the opportunity arose. We got up around 5 am and promised our wives we would be back before lunch. The drive to the river was about a half hour which gave me ample time to talk about my fishing prowess. You see, Steve had fished with me quite a bit, but Wayne had not yet had the honor. Wayne was a beginning fly fisherman, and I thought he might be interested in hearing about my fishing history.
As I steered down the logging road time seemed to fly by as I continued to tell intriguing stories. Just as I was discussing the similarities between myself and the famous Lefty Kreh, the river came into view. Finding the nearest pull off, I screeched to a halt. I was baffled as Wayne and Steve just sat there motionless. They did however, wake up when I yanked the sunglasses off their faces.
The river was beautiful, the water was clear and full of pools and riffles that were sure to hold trophy sized trout, and if anyone would catch them it was me. I threw on my neoprene’s and in moments was giving Wayne his first lesson. He, however, was not a good student. In the middle of a casting demonstration I turned around to see if he had learned anything. He was nowhere in sight. When I tracked him down he assured me that I had taught him everything he needed to know and asked if I would quit stalking him.
We had all fished for several hours without so much as a bite when we reached the outlet of the stream where it fed into the much larger Columbia River. Steve found a nice deep riffle and fired a brown Wooly bugger into the middle of it. Blam! He was into a big trout! After a lengthy tug of war Steve managed to drag it to shore. While Wayne and Steve were admiring the fish, I saw my opportunity to steal Steve’s fishing spot and quickly moved toward it. Steve must have spotted me out of his peripheral vision because he said in a condescending voice, “You know Ladin, Wayne has never caught a trout on a fly rod before. Maybe he should try that spot”
“Of course,” I mumbled through gritted teeth.
Two cast later Wayne hooked into a huge rainbow and judging from the rod bend I estimated it to be four pounds, two ounces. The fish made several runs and even managed to get into his backing. Sensing that Wayne wanted my help I began to coach him, “Keep the pressure on! Wait, don’t horse him! Easy, easy now!” I chalked up the fact that Wayne told me to shut up to nervousness.
The fish was landed, and Steve and Wayne were slapping high fives and dancing around as if they had just won the Super Bowl.
“It’s your turn now,” Steve said to me. The fishing hole was mine.
“You know guys,” I said, “The odds of me catching a third big fish out of that hole are about as good as me winning the Washington State Lottery.”
“Lefty Kreh could do it,” Wayne said with a sarcastic smirk, “and by the way, we have to leave in one hour.”
The challenge was before me. One hour to catch a trophy rainbow the likes of which I had never caught before. My pride was at stake – not only as a fisherman, but as a man. The thought of going back to camp skunked and having to face my wife and fie year old son was too much to bear.
I ted on a new fly as fast as I could which left me about fifty minutes to fish. While firing off cast after cast I began to realize that I could be in trouble. “Twenty-five minutes!” Steve yelled.
My hands started trembling and the pressure caused me to break out in a cold sweat. Fifteen minutes later I tied on an egg-sucking leech, an act of a desperate man. With five minutes left the bite mirages started to set in, and I began setting the hook on every drift. Finally, the miraculous happened, with two minutes left a fish took my fly! Squealing with excitement I fought the fish for about 10 seconds. I stared in disbelief at eh six-inch specimen dangling at the end of my line.
Back at camp Steve and Wayne were treated with a hero’s welcome. The kids were in awe of the monster rainbows they had in their possession. Then my son noticed my fish and said, “I like your fish daddy. Can I put it in my fish bowl?”
“Wayne’s boy chimed in, “My daddy’s fish is much bigger than yours.” I smiled and gave him a friendly noogie. When he stopped crying our wives had us line up for pictures holding the fish we had caught.
Despite the humiliation, this trip made me realize that catching a big fish doesn’t necessarily make you any more of a man – of course it doesn’t hurt either.