“I’m just a city boy…”
Dateline: Inside the outside
“Nature and I are two.”
Editor’s note: Read Fly Fishing, part 1 here.
I am exactly eight and one-half steps into fly fishing…and I’m underwater.
Full under water, not just pain-in-the-butt wet, my eyes are open and all I see are river rocks about 4 inches from my now useless air-breathing nose.
Lets be clear here, the last time my whole body was underwater was 52 years ago when I was learning how to swim at the Lincoln Park Pool near where I grew up.
Let’s be even clearer here, I remember nothing from that swimming lesson now while I’m underwater which would probably be the best time to remember it.
All my mind is saying to me is this, “Really Don, REALLY.”
A bad time to forget how to swim is when in fact you are swimming. If you forget how to swim while you are driving on the New York State Thruway it is not nearly as critical as when you forget how to swim while underwater in a river.
I do remember this though from that half century ago swim lesson in the 3 foot end of a concrete pool with no current or rocks and two life guards standing right next to me…they seemed to have neglected in their swimming lesson planning book this one critical lesson…how to swim in a river with current and slippery rocks while wearing a rubber wading gizmo thing that goes from the bottom of my feet to three inches above my boobs and which is now quickly filling with water.
I have fallen underwater and have somehow managed to get even more water wrapped around me. “Really Don, REALLY,” my brain is now shouting.
Oh, forgot to mention this, I am upside down…
“…looking for a home…”
“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”
~ Roger Miller
Hold that there beginning of this thing thought. Back up some to a bit before the splash.
I’m in a quaint fly fishing mom and pop shop on the banks of the Farmington River somewhere in Connecticut.
I am standing looking down at what can only be described as an industrial sized ice cube tray. Hundred’s of plastic cubes in one big array placed on top of what looks like a sock cabinet or undies drawer.
Each cube has in it either a tiny black, brown, green or deeper black dot.
In my hand is a small cup the exact kind you get when you order chicken wings with the Buffalo sauce on the side.
“Go ahead, pick out several flies you think will work,” says a guy with a beard in a red flannel shirt.
Between me and you, I wear those Dollar Store +300 $1.99 reading glasses and for the life of me I can’t see any flies in the fake ice cube trays, I just see tiny little dots and none of them seem to be moving.
All I do is look at the outdoor loving guy and he says, “Um, here let me help,” which I do let him do by handing him the Buffalo sauce on the side cup.
Boom, boom, boom he has dropped six or seven black, brown, green and deeper black dots into the sauce cup, takes a Sharpie out of his left breast flannel pocket and on the side of the sauce cup with a half dozen dots of non moving flies he writes this: $14.49.
Two bucks a dot.
And between you and me I think all he did was to put the dead dot flies in the sauce cup.
I’m told, “Those will match the current hatch on the river.”
I then get an unasked for insect science lesson, I’m told the “flies” are actually “gnats” or some kind of larvae thing, get no response when I asked, “Why don’t you call it ‘gnat fishing then?’” and hear science stuff that sounds like this to me, “Try to fool the fish by throwing fake stuff that looks like the real stuff they eat.”
Full disclosure, at the end of my aisle three science lesson I’m thinking exactly these two things:
I have never in my life ate the fake plastic apples in the center piece on the dinning room table and from what I know about fish, they seem at the very least as smart as me when it comes to eating real food as opposed to fake food.
And two, at $2 per gnat I have probably killed $68,026 worth of the things in my life inside the outside.
As I walk outside with several bags worth of things I’ve never seen before much less understand, my fishing buddy, Mac, says to me exactly this, “Ok, you ready to go fly fishing?”
“Good, lets go.”
And as we drive to some famous fly/gnat fishing spot on the Farmington River that I’ve never heard of I get this exact txt from my wife Barb:
“Did u just buy a microwave???-unhappy face emoji”
Once again, the American Express credit card alert just ratted me out.
And on my arm I squish a mosquito that looks exactly like the fake mosquito “fly” I just paid $12 for.
Mac is smiling.
I am not.
“…I can’t breathe, can’t see…”
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Underwater it is hard to tell where the water ends and the sky, and breathing air once again, begins.
I have flipped around and I’m sort of right side up but I’m caught in the current and picking up speed. How do I know that? I know that because my waders are now completely filled with the river and as I scoot downstream my ass drug down by the weight of the rubber bath tub it finds itself in is bouncing off every boulder in the river.
On the bright side I do notice that the $2 black dots I bought do exactly match the hatch that are skimming about the top of the water that I’m being dragged under.
I do also notice this, I see a wavy version of my fishing buddy Mac, he has come to save me, um, except the wavy version of Mac seems to be flaying in his pockets looking for his cellphone instead of some portable fly/gnat fishing life boat.
It is about the time that my ass stops bouncing off rocks that Mac reaches out his fishing pole, which I somehow managed to grab and stop floating away.
“I did want to get a photo of you underwater until I saw you were headed into the deepest part of the pool on the river.”
Fishing buddies everywhere will understand that.
“Do you want to go home?”
I could have had a shark, a hungry bear and honey badger down inside my rubber bath tub/waders biting the bejesus out of me but you can be dam sure there was NO WAY I was going home now.
I’m here to match the hatch and by God I’m going to match the hatch with this fly/gnat fishing thing even though right about this exact moment the hatch was starting to swarm and bite me all over my parts baptized by the Farmington.
So we stayed…some.
I managed to catch this:
- One pine tree.
- Two Budweisers from a nice couple in an inner tub who floated exactly over my line in the water.
- My left ass cheek.
First time fly/gnat fishing: $782.51.
db: 10 cents (can return) zero fish.
But you know what, I’m kind of digging this fly/gnat fishing thing, could see myself doing it again….
Txt from Barbie “did u buy the microwave at a bait store????”
…maybe not again real soon.
BTW, check out how my first fly/gnat fishing trip ended right here:
Coming up next, I take two more fly fishing trips and finally catch what it is mostly about…
“…the city’s no place for me…”
“If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.” ~Zane Grey
Read More: Part 3