Saturday, July 16, 2011

To Fish or Not to Fish

My husband,Red, doesn't take hints. For instance, if I want him to give the kids a bath, I can't say, "I have so much to get done, but the kids really need a bath. I wish they were old enough to give themselves a bath, because then I could do the dishes while they are bathing. I'm  beat after working all day, I wish I had ten minutes to sit here and close my eyes--but then the kids wouldn't have time for a bath." Red would simply remain reclined on the couch, perfecting his slug impersonation.

I have to give very specific instructions, "Red, can you fill up the tub with water, take off Chatterbox's clothes, put her in the tub, wash her with soap, get her out, dry her off, put the towel in the hamper, drain the tub, take Chatterbox to her room and get her pajamas on?"

Oh, but even those instructions aren't quite perfect enough. He would say, with a confused look on his face, "Can I?"

And I would have to say, "I meant, WILL you?"


So, when I wanted a fly rod for Mother's Day (last year), a game warden I work with called Red on the phone and said, "Red, get your wife a fly rod for Mother's Day. That is what she wants."

It worked! Then it sat in the package for two years. Until today.

It is my only weekend off this month, so we drove up to my parents house for a visit (AKA a built in babysitting expedition). My location is still undisclosed, but let me just say- it isn't trout country. My only hope was to try for panfish.

Here is a list of my catches:
1. A tree
2. A stick
3. The back of my shirt
4. The line
5. The back of Red's shirt.

Here is a list of what I didn't catch:
1. Fish

Red is a pretty good fly-fisherman. In general he is very good at pretty much anything he does (except taking hints from his wife). He is a perfectionist-check out the kayaks he built in the photo below. When we have remodeled rooms in the house, after I spent an entire day spent re-painting the bedroom, Red would waltz in after getting home from work and point out all the paint drips that I missed. In retrospect, he probably wasn't the best choice for a fly fishing instructor. But he was all I had since I forgot to pack the instructional video that came with the rod.

Red's actual instructions weren't is just that his gaze made me nervous. He got out his fly rod and started fishing, but he kept looking over at me. He had that pained look about him like he was struggling to hold in criticism. Or like he had an acute attack of appendicitis.

Finally, after watching Red catch two bluegills and a smally, I sat on the park bench (no mountain stream for us) and untangled my line, intending to call it quits for the day. He came over, probably feeling a little sorry for me and asked, "So do you like it...aside from not catching anything."

I said, hoping for a little sympathy, or maybe a kind word, "Well...I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I'm embarrassed by my form-I obviously need practice."

He didn't take that hint either. He just nodded.

So, unlike all the other great fly fishing blogs (of which I am extremely jealous), there will be no cool photos of a trout grabbing a fly under the surface of the water, or me kneeling down and holding my beautiful catch for all to see. Nope. I'm tempted to post the picture that Red took of me fishing, (after I said to him, "It would be nice to have a picture of me trying to fly fish for the first time." And after he looked at me blankly, clearly not taking the hint, "Red, take a picture of me.") but I'm worried that my form is so bad, I will lose the few readers I have on this blog, who will no longer take me as a serious outdoorswoman.

The one thing I haven't told Red yet is that I AM HOOKED. I might hint about it tomorrow morning.


  1. Never fear. I kind of went through the same thing with my wife. I'm not quite unconscious and really wanted to teach her since she wanted to just didn't work between the two of us. A few posts back on my blog I interviewed Morgan Buckert, a guide in Idaho. I asked her what to do. Her reploy, get a guide. I concur. Take heart, you don't learn over night. It's a process.

  2. I've caught many un-fishy things. Fly fishing makes me feel incompetent, uncoordinated, and frustrated. Except for when everything lines up....the cast, the line laying softly on the water, the fish being hungry for the fly I'm using at the moment, the bite, the set of the hook, the tension on the line...the catch.'s the most amazing feeling on earth. Keep on keeping on! And glad you're hooked! :)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement...I got skunked again this morning-but so did Red, so I'm ok with it. I think you are right, once I have the perfect catch I won't be able to stop. Just wish I had a kids-free vacation so I could practice. Maybe I will have to look up Morgan and take a trip to Idaho!!

  4. Do not feel alone - in any of this - I have to pin notes to my husband- er - his shirt and still end up have to use visual aids half the time.. as for the fly fishing.. my form is nothing short of fact I decided that's why my friends take me along.. for the entertainment value alone. Hang in there.. what's important is enjoy it!
    Beautiful kayaks!
    Also- you are rapidly becoming one of my most favorite blogs to follow!

  5. Thanks Gretchen- I long as I am getting the fly to the spot I want it to go, does it really matter how I look in the process? And yay! I'm glad you enjoy this blog. I had no idea there were so many cool blogs out there.

  6. Embrace your imperfections as a neophyte fly angleress. Nobody wants to read about someone who casts perfectly or travels the globe catching incredible fish (well, OK, maybe some people do). Make it real. Share the details of a good skunking. That's the stuff real stories are made of.It's good to know Fish Cop are real people, too ;)

  7. Well, if people like to read about an imperfect angler (and an imperfect fish cop for that matter)- I'm your girl!

    Thanks for the comments. I get so excited when I see someone is actually reading this thing!

  8. FC- Kirk pointed us to your blog this morning....I love it! Keep at the fly casting -- it really does take some practice, but once you get your first fish it will all pay off.

  9. You'll feel it when the cast starts to "click" for you. I'm a self-taught, horrible fly fisherman and it took many trips to finally get my body to understand the mechanics of it all.

    Once I got in tune with the weight of the line pulling on the rod, I knew it wouldn't be long before I got my first catch and it happened.

    You can do it! And if not, spinners are awesome!

    (BTW - YouTube is a fantastic resource for your predicament.)