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Happens to everyone

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Happens to everyone

Another fascinating dip into the fly fishing archives at Fish&Fly brings us this gem from JM Hruby.

by JM Hruby

First published by Fish&Fly on 9th September 2006

There's a certain pattern to fly fishing. No, not that kind of pattern. I'm talking about a sort of predestination or cosmic fishing karma that forms a thread that runs so strongly through the fabric of this sport that if you could use that thread for tippet you'd never break off again. If you think about it, the only thing that should be a surprise in fly fishing is actually catching a fish. Everything else was bound to happen sometime.

What surprises me is the clockwork universe never misses a tick when it comes to certain happenings in fly fishing. I'm not talking about the big one getting away.

That's small potatoes in the great and predictable order of fly fishing.
The consistency of some events is astonishing. Even more astonishing, though, is that the plots of these fly fishing comedies are universal. Like Shakespearian plots, these happen everywhere, and I'm told, to everyone. If they don't, you haven't been in this game long enough.

First, we have lawn casting. Let's set the scene: The postal delivery consultant (whew, I just about said "postman" there) just delivered your new rod. It cost a King's ransom, but dammit this rod is going to cure all, and I mean all, of your casting ills. Your spouse will understand. The package was opened with surgical precision and the packing material was spread in a uniform and random layer on the lounge floor.

So far, so good, as far as fishing's cosmic order goes. What do you do now?

You rig it up for some lawn casting, of course. Get with it. You are but an actor, strutting and fretting your hour on the fly fishing stage. Follow the script, would you?

And thus, you have tripped the trigger in a series of cosmic events, the outcome of which is as predictable as the sun rising. You're on the front lawn, in the city park, the playground, the athletic field. It doesn't matter. There's no hiding from destiny.

The new rod feels great. It practically casts itself. Perfect loops, straight casts, this is fantastic. Everything you do results in a perfect line laying on the perfect grass of these newfound greener fly casting pastures. The sun shines, the birds sing, and from behind, you hear, "You catchin' anything?" Or maybe, "How's the fishin'?"

The herald's trumpet sounds. The Lawn Casting Comedian has arrived. You should have seen it coming.

There's one everywhere, this fly fishing version of the village idiot. The line is always the same. I'm told the phrase; "You catchin' any?" is the only phrase that has a perfect and exact translation in all known languages. Thus, no fly angler can be linguistically denied his or her cosmic date with the Lawn Casting Comedian.

So you have now bitten your new rod in half. Not out of frustration, but to dull the unbearable pain you suddenly experienced when your new friend began to tell you that he--again inevitably--likes to do a bit of fishing himself. Mind you, not that fancy fly fishing, Lord, no. Much too hoity-toity for him. No offense, of course, it's just that when he was a lad...

So after faking a brain hemorrhage, you managed to crawl away. You didn't need that rod anyway. The fact that you bit it into eight pieces was probably a good thing. It prevented you from using it as a weapon. You would hope any true jury of your peers would have recognized the crime you nearly committed to be a justifiable homicide. You'd surely have been acquitted, but why take the chance?

All right, say you are one of the tiny number of fly anglers who have never actually experienced the Lawn Casting Comedian. Don't pat yourself on the back. Cosmic farcical fly fishing forces are nothing to snicker at. You're calling down a whole heap of bad juju.

Next scenario. It's a perfect morning on the river. The day began early. You were up half the night surfing websites researching rare diseases in a quest to find one that is: a) Very contagious, and b) Only lasts 24 hours, after which the patient makes a complete recovery. If you don't understand why anyone would do this, you need to donate daddy's trust fund to a conservation organization and get a job.

Right, so now your boss knows you'll be out for the day with a raging case of Himalayan Glandular Fever. Lucky for him, you'll be back in the office tomorrow.

So there you are, all alone on the river. The sun shines. The sky is cloudless, a blue vision of perfection. You spent the first 30 minutes walking upstream because everyone knows there are no trout in that first mile of the river. The only inevitability you can see heading your way is the hatch that should kick in any minute.

And so you reached that first fishable stretch of river. This is going to be great. But first, you had to do something with the super-sized coffee that you drank in the car on the way. What the hell is it about putting on waders that makes the average man's bladder shrink to the size of a grain of rice, anyway? Forget it, you can't debate destiny. Just get on with it.

There is a basic instinct in man, which was best described by the Canadian author Farley Mowat in his fascinating book, Never Cry Wolf: Mowat writes:

"Now it is a remarkable fact that a man, even though he may be alone in a small boat in mid-ocean, or isolated in the midst of the trackless forest, finds that the very process of unbuttoning causes him to become peculiarly sensitive to the possibility that he may be under observation. At this critical juncture none but the most self-assured of men, no matter how certain he may be of his privacy, can refrain from casting a surreptitious glance around to reassure himself that he really is alone."

Someday Mowat's keen observation will be scientifically proven when the first man lands on Mars and needs to get rid of all that Tang he drank on the way. Anyway, you carefully stayed true to your most basic instincts, found a suitable location for relief, and had a careful look around. No one in sight. Duty calls.

  What you failed to see was that, just as you dropped your waders, the planets of the fly fishing cosmos came into perfect alignment in the heavens above. The Earth, moon, sun, stars, and your bladder, all working in perfect harmony.

The 96 fluid ounces of coffee you ingested on the way to the river will require you to spend just enough time with your waders around your ankles so that the 24 members of the fast-approaching University Women's Canoeing Club could not possibly have missed seeing you in all your glory. Their canoes rounded the bend. Provenance was fulfilled.

Don't take it so hard. Those sweet young things were canoeing on the river of your fly fishing destiny. It happens to everyone, right?

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