Friday, July 6, 2018

Woman vs Fish
by Taylor Streit

Most guides in the fly-fishing business will tell you that women are easier to teach than men.
Women don’t have as much tension in their arms—tension that is detrimental to fluid casting.
Their egos aren’t all bound up with being “top rod.” I believe that it stems from the fact that they
really don’t care about “just fishing” and tend to enjoy nature more than men do. They’ll even
come right out and say, “I just like being here.” This has been proven to me on many occasions,
when a woman would actually put aside her rod and sit down to enjoy the wild world around
her—while the fish were biting! When I’ve suggested that it might be better to become inactive
when the fish are in a like frame of mind, they’ve usually replied, “You go ahead and catch a
few.” That is not a common male response. Here is a little story to illustrate the male and female
mentalities.

Bluegills and Bobbers

On the drive to the stream Bill tells one fishing story after another. These aren’t bluegill-and-
bobber stories. They’re fish tales of high adventure—salmon beyond the Iron Curtain, bill-fish
on the high seas, and huge sea-run trout of Tierra del Fuego. As we four-wheel over a jumble of
rocks and roots he talks about night fishing for the man-eating catfish of the Amazon. Wife
Gloria is in the back looking out the window cool and disinterested, as if her husband’s fishing
stories have traveled this road before—through one ear and out the other. She volunteers
something about their friends who fished at such and such a lodge and that their son worked as a
guide one summer. She’s certainly not unhappy with this trip into the New Mexico wilderness;
she just seems, well, along for the ride.
Our hike to the water takes us through a virgin forest, which seems to inspire wonder in Gloria.
She interrupts an epic marlin battle to ask the name of a tall, flashy wildflower. I tell her it’s
fireweed. Encouraged, I take them a few feet out of the way to where a beaver is making slow
but steady progress on a foul-tasting pine. The 3-foot-thick tree is gnawed about halfway through
its trunk, and a crack that runs up the tree has formed. On the sway of each breeze the crack
opens and closes as the giant moans its death song.
When we arrive at the stream, things look good. Mayflies are dancing up and down in shafts of
light, and a couple of yellow Wilson’s warblers flit about catching them. Bill glances at the
surroundings and utters the gruesome phrase that strikes fear into the heart of every guide: “Just
point me in the right direction. I can take care of myself.” I give him a couple of flies and the
tiny amount of instruction that I think he will accept, and take Gloria for her first fly-fishing
lesson. When away from Bill she confesses that she is doing this for him, as if I couldn’t already
tell, and that she will try it but asks me to go easy on her. I tell her that teaching is hard work,
and the less of it I have to do, the better.
She seems fairly bored with the 15-minute crash course in casting. Her attitude changes quickly,
however, once she starts fishing, because she somehow manages to drop her first cast on a fish’s

head. With the 10-inch rainbow attached to her fly she emits screams, squeals, and giggles that
echo off the canyon walls. She reels the trout right up to the end of the rod and is frantically
grabbing for it. Of course, the 6-foot space between her hyperextended hand and the end of the
9-foot fly rod creates a comical problem. When I stop laughing I suggest that if she can’t reach
the thing, she’d better let out some line so that we could get at it. That is just the start of things.
The little fishes are in such a reckless mood that she starts catching so many that it isn’t long
before I leave her on her own and go looking for the boss.

He is planted right where I had left him—and looking mighty out of place, zinging yards of line
up the little brook. Any fish that might be interested in his fly—unlikely because it is dragging
across several currents—would be thrown into a state of shock at the sight of his tall, well-
postured figure towering over their home.
Before I have an opportunity to speak to him, his wife comes into view from downstream. She is
now running on predatory instincts. We watch spellbound as she zeros in on her next victim. She
creeps low to the edge of the stream, slithers behind a boulder, and waves her magic wand over
the water. True, her cast is pitiful—limp-wristed and floppy—but it is perfect in the fast-falling
stream because her fly settles on the water with plenty of slack, giving the fly a drag-free float. A
wild slash of the rod and a loud shriek mean she has hooked another. Hubby’s ears turn red as he
slams a double haul to the next bend. This presents the perfect opportunity for me to do my job,
and I try to suggest a more appropriate way for him to fish that little creek. He isn’t too keen on
making the “bad cast,” and crawling is definitely beneath him, but before long he is slipping
along the stream like a 10-year-old boy—and catching fish.
As we are preparing to leave he hooks what looks like the fish of the day, but it comes loose at
the water’s edge. He pounces down on the squiggling creature and pins it between his hands and
knees. It pops out and into the drink. As this is catch-andrelease fishing I am surprised to see Bill
plunge in after the fleeing fish. After more squiggling, squirming, splashing, and crashing he
raises the fish aloft for our admiration. The capture of that 14-incher seems to put the family
hierarchy back in order, and he signals that it is time to go.
On the ride back Bill digs out a few more exotic fishing and hunting stories from far-off lands
and waters. Gloria returns to her backseat position and adds, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.”


KIDS

Kids have that famous knack for catching fish when they aren’t supposed to be catching them.
Years of study indicate no apparent rhyme or reason for these little miracles. A kid will have line

wrapped around arms and legs one minute and be holding a wiggling trout the next. The fish
gods favor the child.
Unless a child is very motivated, wait, then start them fly fishing when they are 11 or 12. I’ve
noticed that many eager dads try to get their offspring fly fishing too early. The poor kids
stumble and bumble about and get so frustrated that they get turned off to the sport. You might
want to get them out there with the Snoopy Rod and bait first.
Kids are a pleasure to teach because their instincts haven’t been crushed yet, and they can get
into the flow quickly. I’ve seen some kids learn to fly-cast better in an hour than their parents
have in a lifetime. I must say that I sink a little when I find out that a gifted, spontaneous child is
heading toward a career in investment banking or some such colorful pursuit that will, in time,
cut him or her off from his instinctive self.

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