“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.