"Excuse me Ma'am" said the grey haired gentleman in the supersized pickup as he rolled up next to me at the edge of our village's municipal lake, "Can I just watch you fish for a few minutes..it's been a long time since I've seen anyone flyfishing."
I was suspicious that perhaps given my lack of good form, he just needed a little evening entertainment. This gentleman and I really don't know each other - he's one of the hundreds of construction workers that descended on our community a few years ago to work on a large power plant project. His license plates say Montana, and he maintains his "home" in a camper at our village lake.
We've often exchanged pleasantries, comments about the weather, about how fishing is or isn't going, and so on. He sees me fishing, coming in and out of the woods, training Willie; "He's a good blocky cold weather lab- not like most of those houndy looking ones I see around here" .
|photo courtesy of Adam Rutkowski|
|Photo Courtesy of Adam Rutkowski|
He watches from his swing in front of camper and gives the occasional giggle and "Stubborn little blockhead isn't he" when Wllie refuses to fetch up a bumper and I have to wade out up to my neck to retrieve it.
But this watching me fly fish? Seriously? Surely he would rather watch someone who actually knows what they are doing, that doesn't suffer snags and tangles and fits of unlady like language.
" No one fly fishes around here, do they? You're the first person I've seen on this lake with a fly rod since I got here. "
Bear in mind I was just having a little fun catching little bluegill for catfish bait. Truthfully those little blue gill would just about latch on to a bare hook, and a cane pole with a bobber would be perfectly sufficient for grabbing enough to use on the lines that I was planning on setting later that night.
But it's fun to use the fly rod and see the little guys punch up, snatch the fly, and run, they fight and zig and zag as if they were a big fish, and heaven knows I need all the practice with a fly rod I can get. Let's just say I have a style and form that is uniquely all my own, one that causes true flyfisher folks to cringe and run for cover.
But even my poor form was good enough on that hot summer evening to satisfy my grey haired friend. We went on to chat about cat fishing, fly fishing, the lack of a clear running streams in southern Illinois and the lack of trout.
"Those stocked trout in those strip pit lakes" he snorted " That's not trout fishing."
As darkness fell and I filled my bucket with small gills to use for bait on my tightlines, he shared stories about the clear mountain streams, the clean crisp air, all of the things he missed about about his home as we sweltered in the 100 degree heat and 100% humidity of Southern Illinois.
When he started his truck to head to his home away from home on up the shore of the lake he thanked me...
"Thanks for letting me watch - and thanks for the talk; I was a little homesick until I came around the corner and saw your line in the air and landing on the water. And don't pay attention to those guys that tell you that you aren't doing it right. You've been catching fish, and you're having fun. That's all that matters. "