One of the best parts about fishing is the people one meets while charting their own fishing destiny. Paths cross, people toss lines into the same body of water and we all share a similar goal—-catch fish. We share nods or smiles as we respectfully adhere to wide margins of personal fishing space (except in salmon fishing, that’s an expected combat zone) and we snarl like mountain lions when someone invades our temporary water claim.
One thing that can be expected out on the water is questions. The mack daddy question of course is “Catch anything today?” The only way to avoid that question is hiking 5 miles into the wilderness to fish, alone……..but once you hike out someone will still ask that question. Unavoidable. The only quandary here is whether or not to tell the truth. Personally, I balance the moral burden between truth or lie on a case by case basis.
On the water I’ve heard every conversation starting question, help question, information question, and personal question one might find in a question tackle box. Usually I don’t mind unless I’ve waded out into the river and someone is shouting questions at me from the bank. When this happens I fall back into the case by case scenario. Pretend deafness or wade in closer to have a legit conversation.
Because I fly fish, there seems to be a standard set of questions that go along with the deal. Once I’ve made it past the ‘catch any fish’ question the follow up is usually ‘what fly are you using’ that slides nicely into ‘do you tie your own flies.’
I wish I could claim that I tie my own flies, but I don’t, so there, that little fact of flyfishing inadequacy is out for public opinion. I have tried it. I’ve plunked down an obscene amount of money in the past on the feathers, hairs, fur, hooks, line, yarn, swinging bobbins and all I can say is I didn’t have the talent or patience for it. Pure Flyfishing Scandal—I buy my flies— When I cough up this truth on the riverbank I can see my flyfishing stock plummet, but so far I’ve lived through the disappointment.
The one question I have a problem with is “can I see your flies?” I’m not sure why some people are inclined to ask this or what they expect to see, but I find the question akin to asking me to pull up my skirt. This is probably a me thing and not a general flyfishing consensus, but the contents of my fly bag are sacred. Each little fly is a sentimental friend and there’s a few flies I’d probably dive into a river to save from a rock or the nasty jaws of a white fish to retrieve.
I suppose I like to keep them personal, untouched by other hands and away from any judgemental opinion. Maybe my issue stems from an emotional value on my little fly friends, but without a doubt I assume the role of Mother Bear when it comes to prying eyes and touchy fingers. (A few people have experienced the voodoo curses associated with attempting to kidnap one little fly from my bag, it isn’t pretty)
Once I wade past all the normal questions I occasionally get hit with a big one. A question some ladies wait a lifetime to hear. If this final river question was proposed with a diamond each time rather then over flies, I’d have more jewels then the Queen of England. The usually joking ”will you marry me” request I’ve heard face to face, from across a river, from a boat, or from around the bend. Now, 99.9% of the time my moral compass dictates I say no to this question, but if he has a drift boat, I do consider skirting the ‘no’ factor for at least an afternoon.
I said ‘consider’ ……I am a fly fisherman after all, and a drift boat is the ultimate in flyfishing temptation.
On the topic of questions, here’s a few more of special note I’ve heard on the waterways:
“How do you tie a fly onto your line without it smashing”
“How do you know where to cast so it’s in front of fish”
“Why do you release fish back into the water when you go through all the trouble to catch them”
“Will you watch me and tell me why I can’t catch a fish”
“How do you catch flies to fish with”
“You’re a girl” (I guess that’s not a question, but the tone usually implies question)
“Why do fish bite a fake fly like that? It’s like, fake”