All week long little vibrations tickled me in the leg while I was working. I’d pull out my phone to see texts with a trout in a net, my friends ten year old horsing in a moderately hefty Brookie, or some forgotten stream that looked familiar. My good buddy, Russ, travels a lot in his truck— it’s his office. He goes all over North and South Caroline doing business. Somewhere along the way he got the bug to put a fishing rod in his car– most recently a fly rod. Russ is a guy that will try anything. With no lessons, no guides, not much direction but a few blogs, websites, inexpensive equipment, and a Delorme map he’s pretty much covered much of the roadside streams in Western North Carolina that I started fishing on some twenty five years ago.
And so it goes with fishing. I lost touch with those roots (sticking holes) and I’m living in his frantic quest to stop at every piece of flowing water that might hold a trout (any size, any species, any time) on my cell phone. So while I’ve got my head deep in some work in the middle of the week, over and over again he asks me to take a Friday and jump in the truck. My fishing habits and patterns have changed through the years. From NC delayed harvest walks with my dad and brother, to long hikes in the Appalachians for hidden natives. On to big Tennessee water floats, and then on out West to the big storied water that gets vacation time and my intention. I don’t tie as much, usually working a mindset that spending a little here and there with a local fly shop puts me in better graces and better leads with what’s hitting in distant water, less mention my four little boys with curious hands aways tend to make a mess of supplies.
The old fly box didn’t have much to offer when I jumped in Russ’s truck last Friday for a fast foray into the state park. The usual suspects for winter prospecting on hatchery released trout: a few nymphs, a few midges, a small black fly or two. I have to admit it felt like cheating when a tan San Juan worm proved to be an every-cast magic trick. And that damn Russ had it figured out all day upstream in that skinny water– way before me on his thirty dollar fly rod. When we finally met hour later, he had a cell phone as a creel– full of pictures. Every fish had the most queer looking fly dangling from the it’s mouth. He said he found it in a tree. It looked like silly string on a hook. In the greater scheme of things fishing the closest, easiest stream fell off my radar– but I’m back at the bench. Fishing suddenly isn’t a distant pencil mark in my calendar.
So the next afternoon, and every spare minute I’ve had to rub together, I’m back at the bench. I haven’t really tied much in years. But this goofy little wormy fly, an amalgamation of a tungsten beadhead crystal nymph with some squiggly silicone tail evolves. I don’t know if you can really call it a fly. It grates at a more purist ethic that begs me to reach onto the peg board for a natural material. I had to cut up a toy from the dollar store to get the parts– but I’m damn sure Russ is going to be happy the next time he goes fishing that he won’t have to climb up a tree to fill his fly box.
There’s something about the bench, good music, and a cold beer that brings the outdoors home. Memories and all those objects before you. A clutch of pheasant feathers from October, a tail of that buck from last year, even some roadkill I’ve put in baby food jars and baggies. Nothing but memories and killing time.