By W R Jones


    When I was this age I LOVED fishing.   There simply was no bigger joy to be had than sitting on the bank of a river with a fishing pole, your pals, and a pack of cigarettes.

    I remember nights out on the lawn with a flashlight looking for nightcrawlers to use for bait the next day.  These we used for farm pond bullheads.  For river catfish we would use a homemade very smelly cheese bait that my dog loved.

     There was a wealthy (by Chickencrotch Iowa standards) man who had a pond created at the back of his house just outside of town.   He had his pond stocked with bass all 5lb or larger (at least for the first year).    We would sneak out of our houses at night and walk out to the pond to fish until just before daybreak.   This was in the summer, of course, so we could sleep in.

     I was remembering my youth before TV where weekly/monthly magazines were something to look forward to.   One of my favorites was Field and Stream.  The articles on fly fishing always started me dreaming.  It looked so graceful with the line arching through the morning mist sections of it gleaming as it caught the light.  

    We didn’t have any fly fishing gear in my small Iowa town.   I forgot about it for years then came to California.   In an Orvis store I saw all this very neat (and very expensive) gear for fly fishing.   I’ve never actually seen anyone catch a fish on a fly rod, but I suppose it is possible in theory.   I think the idea is just to have fun whipping that line through the air and landing the fly somewhere near where you are aiming.

    So, I bought a niffty rod, reel, line, vest, wading pants, hat, flys, a book on fly fishing, and some insect repellent.   Then out to the back yard to practice my new hobby.   After about 10 attempts to simply get the fly from behind me to somewhere in front of me, I had the brilliant idea to put a small amount of weight on the leader.  That should help.   I attached a small split shot near the fly.

    Worked!   I was whipping that line through the air.   After a few false casts (I believe that is what they called them in the book), I went for a new distance record.   I think I would have made it too if the hook hadn’t set into the back of my ear.   Son-of-a-bitch!  I had no idea this sport carried risk of injury.    And to add the obligatory insult, my wife kept calling me a pussy when I whined as she removed the hook from my ear.

    Now I get my fish at a sushi bar; comes with a large beer.

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17 Responses to Fishing

  1. Bonnie Luria says:

    Would it be a Yogi Berra-esque thing to say that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?
    Really got the imagery of the night time sneak around, the cigarettes ( smuggled against parents wishes ?), and yikes, the fish hook in soft ear tissue.
    Fishing as a dangerous sport, it got you hook, beer and sinker.
    How about a little info on the drawing- pencil? graphite? Brylcreem? What?

  2. w1kkp says:

    I’m here via Bonnie and please don’t tell me you were out practicing in your back yard in your complete outfit:vest, wading pants, hat. If so, your wife really had no choice in vocabulary. However, what a talented house you both are in artistic areas! That looks like number nine but the name on the back looks longer than “Williams”, so who is it? And, that little guy? Sweet.

  3. Jala Pfaff says:

    “Chickencrotch, Iowa” – hahahahahahahaha!! :D

  4. Rebecca says:

    HE HE HE.. (Your wife swears?) I love this piece. My family are baseball fans and one of my bros and I have given many gifts of baseball art to my oldest brother, who is an absolute fanatic!

    Going to see my little nephew graduate from boot camp today…uggg!! (I’m soo afraid for that kid)


  5. Carol King says:

    clearly sports is not your forte.

    When I was his age, my friends and I would chew gum till it was really soft, then attach it to a piece of string and lower it down the subway grate to see if we could get any change that fell down there to stick to the gum. We would then carefully raise it back up through the grate. Sometimes we were successful. If we were, we’d run off to the penny candy store thinking we were rich. And no, we did not re-chew the coin collecting gum.

    Now, like Bonnie said, tell us about your drawing. Who cares about fly fishing. Why would anyone want to catch flies anyway?

  6. wrjones says:

    Bonnie – I think nostalgia is improving. Danger everywhere. I gave up riding bulls to fly fish. Now I’m going to knit with blunt ended nerf needles.

    w1kkp – I think I read where you are single. So I guess you don’t believe in marriage. Would you just take care of me? Sort of a meals on wheels deal.

    Jala – Ok Ok, Not right in town. I lived just a little outside of Chickencrotch.

    Rebecca – it is not a good time to be leaving boot camp for sure. Hope he fairs well.

    Carol – Not my forte, hell I’m way older than that. I like your concept of urban fishing. Could be real relaxing. I can see you giving your bait to a friend to chew later. Now you could say you were being green.

    The drawing is charcoal on smooth newsprint. I did two brothers. The grandma then wanted to be drawn but her daughter (mother of the boys told her she was too old for a drawing). So I did a drawing of her as well for spite. I will post both the other brother and grandma in the future.

  7. My wife and I once went into the N. Ca. Desolation Wilderness
    Area to a small lake to watch our friend fly fish…bamboo pole and small canvas raft for him to go out into the middle of a stunningly beautiful, pristine lake overlooked by a huge granite outcrop. I made some gourmet sandwiches and homemade garlic bread. We had a vintage bottle of wine as well. Our fly fisherman, nature boy?…before he went out to fish, he had Nabisco crackers and Cheesewiz. Wuzup wid dat!!!!

  8. wrjones says:

    David – I will tell you what is up. Nature boy is a fraud. One that I can identify with. What he was up to was faking the fly fishing and using the Cheesewiz as bait. In case that didn’t work either (and it never has for me) he had the crackers for sustenance.

  9. 100swallows says:

    Nice memories, Bill. I can only say ditto to all of them, except the fly-casting, which I never tried. You were more adventurous than I. Ah, the great handfuls of dew worms we got in the backyard with a flashlight! Even the Field and Stream mag. Was it Field and Stream that had stories about shooting grizzly bears too? I could swear I saw you once in the morning mist upriver.

  10. w1kkp says:

    Ah. Another request for caregiving. My website is named, single for a reason. That’s one of them.

  11. Barbara Pask says:

    Very nice sketch Bill, wonderful work. By the way my husband is a fly fisherman and he actually catches fish that way. I love to just set and watch him cast. Have you ever watched The River Runs Through It? You should if you haven’t.

  12. Well it’s nice technique… but I can’t help but wonder who is this poor boy who is about to get knocked in the head with a baseball bat.

  13. wrjones says:

    Swallows – Field and Stream had a serial that I think was called the lower 40. It was my favorite. That could have been me in the mist. Did I look like I was trying to get a hook out of my ear?

    W1kkp – what the devil does that stand for? You would love taking care of me! I’m like a lap dog with no hair left to shed.

    Barbara – thanks. It really is a treat to watch a skilled fly caster. If I ever get the opportunity I will take a class and at least try to save my ear.

    Diana – I never was all that crazy about rug rats so maybe this is a subliminal message. Good eye. You really looked good in front of that painting. No one would ever guess you are some kind of screwball farm woman painter.

  14. w1kkp says:

    Bill, remember now, you asked. “What the devil does that mean?”

    I don’t know how to break this to you, but.

    Many (not all but don’t make me name names) men think they’d be a joy to take care of and how shall I say this? Many think it without the proper lap doodle credentials.

    (Perhaps, lap doodles are in short supply east of the Mississippi, I don’t really know.)

    NOT that you are aren’t the exception to this and I’m sure you are, BUT if in the horrible event that you have to start over in the relationship department, I’d not go with the “you would love talking care of me exclamation point” line.

    Show them your etchings, instead. It’s a time honored tradition and, in your case, I suspect a sure winner.

    There. Let’s move on to the important stuff: what is the name of the baseball player you have on the jersey with the number nine? It’s too long to be Williams. I’m from Boston. These things matter!

  15. Carol King says:

    hahahahahahaha! w1kkp’s comment was EXCELLENT! Made me laugh. hahahahahaha! You tell ’em. (Bill specifically, but men in general!)

  16. wrjones says:

    W1kkp – I still don’t get what w1kkp stands for. I’m slow you have to explain carefully. Yes, I know, those other guys are full of shit, but I would be a real joy to fuss over. Everyone needs a hobby. The name on the shirt is Shahandeh, the last name of the boy in the drawing.

    Carol – how COULD YOU agree with her? I should come to NY to let you have a week of sample care. After that much fun, you wouldn’t let me out of your sight. Every time you hand me the remote and a beer you would get a BEAMING smile, an implied thank you of sorts. And could you bring something for the dog and husband please. All three of us are too relaxed to be jumping up everytime we need something.

  17. Good story; lovely drawings of the boys,

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