I’m not sure what the above fly is called, maybe the man who gave it to me told me, maybe he didn’t. The fly used to have little rubber legs and was a bit more fluffy and distinguished. Now it’s a piece of my vintage fly history and a testament to the kindness I’ve stumbled across while on the waterways.
The morning I was given that fly, I was sitting on the dirt bank of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park. My fly rod was propped in the dirt leaning across my shoulder, my fly bag was tossed near my feet, open, ignored, and I was gazing out across the big Yellowstone watching risers that I couldn’t get close enough to. At the moment, I was feeling frustrated and defeated by my wading limitations.
Then he came along, a nameless man who just happened across my sovereign spot in the dirt. He stopped, asked me the normal fisherman pleasantries…how’s it going….have you caught any fish…I opted for honesty and told him that despite all attempts to love the Yellowstone River, she continued to toy with me, tease me and deny me reasonable (without the threat of death via drowning) wading entrance.
He pulled out a fly box and started sifting through it while he explained to me that although the Yellowstone liked to keep her treasured rising cutties out in the deep zones, the fish could be caught nearer to the bank if you know where to look for them. He pulled out the above fly, handed it to me and told me to walk along the bank and spot fish for underwater bank cruisers. Then he smiled, and was gone….
Honestly, I can’t remember if I caught a fish with that fly, but his kindness is something I’ve never forgotten. He’s not the only one who has given me flies on the riverbank over the years. I have a special little box I keep that holds the flies men (sadly, it’s all men, I rarely, if ever come across woman on the rivers) have graciously given me. I can be catching fish just fine, but I’ve noticed men like to stop, talk, and impress upon me their favorite, or secret fly for the day.
It isn’t just about the flies that have been given me, this kindness I write of, it’s the friendliness and willingness to offer conversation, wisdom or just a friendly smile to me…the anomaly on the river. I’m not sure how it is for other men– the man to man interaction–on the water. But I have witnessed acts of kindness between guys that confirms this sort of graciousness isn’t just reserved for the pink elephant (me) wading in the water.
I believe in every persons life, it’s good to pause, look back and thank the people who made a good impression in your life. So today I’d like to publicly thank:
~The man on the Yellowstone River for a fly I would never have thought of. I don’t remember the fish of that day, but I remember your smile, your laughter and your kindness. The other men who have gifted me their secret flies over the years, if I didn’t lose them to fish, I’ve still got your flies.
~The two men (and dog) who rescued me from the wrong side of the South Fork of the Boise River with their drift boat after my death defying swim. I know I was frozen silent, embarrassed into stone, but I was grateful for the safe passage back to the other side. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably still be over there.
~I’d like to thank the man who came running up the river when he saw me fighting a huge fish on my little fly rod. Your passionate chase with your net did not go unnoticed, your gallant dive in the river was impressive and I’m sorry the fish ended up being a monster sucker fish. I told you it felt like I was hauling in a water logged tree that moved….not a steelie like you hoped.
~Thank you to all the guys who have offered marriage proposals over the years. I may never hold a big fish record, but I bet I’m in the running for the most proposals in a lifetime =)
~Thanks goes to the several different men who provided jumper cables, towing service and hitchhiker rides.
~Thanks goes to the fly shop manager who was beyond kind and helpful to me yesterday. You have renewed my faith in the local fly shop atmosphere…
~Thanks goes to all the people who have visited this site, commented, emailed and encouraged me along. I hope to run into you all on the river ~