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Things to thunk on while out fishing

The other day I went fly fishing for bass with my best buddy Tom. I should have known better.

You see, Tom is pretty good with a spinning rod and reel, but his fly-casting abilities leave much to be desired. Not to overstate things, but I liken me handing him a fly rod to someone handing a chimp a loaded revolver.

Actually, that’s a gross exaggeration. The chimp would be less dangerous.

Luckily, I knew from previous experience that the way to make things safer was to spend a lot of time trolling for bass with flies. That way we would catch a bunch of fish and keep his wild casting to a minimum, which, even more importantly, would keep the likelihood of me getting new piercings to a minimum.

It worked like a charm.  We caught lots of bass and he didn’t have any reason to fling flies dangerously close my ears.

Later in the day, however, I dropped my guard.

Tom said, “Let’s just stop here and cast a bit.”

I nodded and handed Bonzo the revolver.

But just before he started casting, I spoke words that turned out to be prophetic.  I said, “You have to be careful casting this sinking fly line. It’s a lot clumsier to cast than the floating stuff you’re used to.”

Tom, who has never lacked confidence, replied, “You just have to know what you are doing.”

I immediately thought, “Here it comes.”

And before that thought had even settled, I felt something smack my head and heard an audible thunk.

When I looked at Tom, I noticed that his fly line and leader seemed to be connected to my ball cap. And he had the same look on his face that you’d see on a puppy who has just had an accident on the carpet by the front door. I think he was hoping I wouldn’t notice.

I reached up and felt the fly, which was lodged in the top of my hat. Then I popped it out, examined it and dropped it back in the water.

After that, I felt my head and discovered that the hook, and it was a moderately large one, had penetrated the cap but had not touched my scalp, presumably because the baseball cap was a bit big on me.

The bottom line: no harm, no foul. OK, his line was fouled just a little around my head, but it was an easy fix.

“You just have to know what you are doing, huh?” I repeated. And then we both laughed for the next 20 minutes – while we trolled.

We spent the rest of the trip catching fish and catching up on all the things that had happened since the onset of the pandemic. One of the things I learned was that he never practiced fly casting once.

Then we counted our blessings.

We had both got our second shots and my buddy had moved a lot closer to the county, so we planned on making these fishing trips a regular occurrence from here on in. And since he really enjoyed catching smallmouth bass on a fly rod, he suggested that we stick to fly fishing too, which came as a real surprise since, as I said, he’s pretty good with spinning gear.

We left the water with those thoughts and I arrived home genuinely happy and stress-free.

“How was your fishing?” Jenn asked, as I put my gear away.

“Great,” I said. “Say, how do you think I would look in a 10-gallon hat?”

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