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The Hazards of Fly Fishing

I have shared with you my great love for fishing in general and my enthusiasm for fly-fishing in particular. Last weekend I visited my son Roger for some father/son bonding to be accomplished while fishing in the cold mountain trout streams of north Georgia.

I arrived about 7:00 PM eastern daylight time and immediately went to a meeting of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited—an experience sure to whet your appetite for trout fishing. It did. The program consisted of an Atlanta fishing guide talking his way through a slide show of his last trip to Argentina fishing in the Patagonia region for big trout. He seemed to catch one on almost every cast. I’m really ready to go. We will hit the streams tomorrow morning.

The first place we fished was in the Chattahoochee River in the city limits of Atlanta. “Naaa,” you say. It’s true. The Chattahoochee is one of the best trout streams in Georgia. We started in a section of the river, which wasn’t at all crowded. In fact, we were the only people in sight. I scored first. A nice trout in the 6- inch range. I caught some small ones later in the day. The nice thing about this place, in addition to its seclusion, was its accessibility. This is important, as you will soon notice.

When the fish quit biting in our first spot, we moved to a new spot, which was much less accessible—the west Palisades. It’s still part of the Chattahoochee River but not nearly as convenient. To get to the river one must walk down a steep hill, jumping over large logs and ducking under fallen trees. It was under one of these fallen trees that our first mishap of the trip occurred. (Actually, it was our second. At the first spot I tripped and fell in the river up to my ear lobes.)

To provide a context for the event I must explain that it has been my experience that even a consummate outdoors person will do funny things when someone close by yells, “SNAKE.” I have seen people hurt themselves whether or not there is an actual snake within miles. In this case a fairly large snake was in the neighborhood—lying on one of the fallen trees I mentioned earlier. Roger started to duck under the tree just as I spotted the snake. As quietly as I could I yelled SNAAAAKE!!! Whereupon Roger straightened up abruptly. He whacked his head on the fallen tree right below where the snake was lying peacefully in the sun. Roger’s head hit the tree with such force that it dislodged the snake which fell off the tree and down the front of Roger’s waders. Although Roger saw the snake go by, there was nothing he could do to change what gravity had wrought. The snake was in his pants. Roger’s first thought was that it’s far too crowded in these waders. His second thought was there are now two good reasons for getting out of these waders. A snake in your pants will make you do some particularly gross things. Since I felt a bit bad about mentioning the snake in the first place, I figured the least I could do is help Roger out of his waders. This is easier said than done, particularly when he is leaping to altitudes I would not have thought possible being restricted by all that fishing gear. On one leap he actually grabbed the fallen tree and clung to it while I inverted his waders. The snake was no happier about the turn of events than Roger was. He/she (the snake) left as rapidly as his/her lack of legs would carry him/her.

That pretty much ended fishing for that day. Tomorrow was, however, another day. We arose early—about 9:30 AM, to drive to north Georgia almost to the North Carolina line to fish the Toccoa River. By the time we found our spot we discovered that about 100 other people had found it before we got there. We figured it must be a particularly good spot so we put on our gear and eased into the river with all the other folks. There was another father/son team fishing right behind me—except in this case the father was my son’s age and his son looked to be about 8 years old.

The son had his own little fly rod and was ensconced in a cute little flotation device. On my second back cast my lure snagged the cute floatie and as I started my forward cast the lure tore what I thought was a pretty small and insignificant hole in the floatie. Nothing to get too upset about, I thought. It can be patched. It’s true that the air inside the floatie quickly joined the air outside the floatie and the little kid sank. Not far—just down and right back up. So no big deal. Although the water is pretty cold, it’s not too deep. The father was, I thought, a very unreasonable man—yelling and screaming like that. He even threatened to do some unspeakable thing with my fly rod which I felt sure would damage the fly rod and probably prove to be quite uncomfortable. Roger and I decided to find a less crowded spot to finish our fishing day.

The rest of the day was much better. Roger caught and released 19 trout and I caught some as well. I won’t mention how many because introducing the spirit of competition into the situation would probably have a desultory effect on the father/son bonding process. We didn’t even discuss the number of fish I caught all the way home although Roger mentioned the number 19 about 600 times.

Our final activity of the day was finding something to eat. Going through Ellijay, Georgia, on the way home, we stopped at the town’s most upscale eatery, Colonel Poole’s Pig Parlor—also known as the Taj Ma Hog. Although the colorful Colonel was not in, his son the Major was. The Major showed us a number of things that contributed to the fame of the establishment including the Pig Hill of Fame, which was a significant hill out back containing about 10,633 little plastic pig cutouts with people’s names on them stuck in the ground. For 5 bucks we could be included. We explained that we had spent our last 5 bucks on the barbeque, which by Texas standards was only passable.

My new goal in life is to go on a fly fishing trip on which nothing bad happens—no snakes, no falling in the river, no ducking little kids, no tents burning down, etc. When that happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.