The Lost Files – Fly Fishing Comes With Family Hazards

Jun 6, 2009 by

The Lost Files were weekly columns written back around 2001-2003 while I was running a newspaper in the Midwest. They seem to have disappeared from the Internet, probably after some  redesign of the newspaper’s web site.  So, from time to time, I’ll repost some of my favorites from saved hard copies  (that’s paper to you new media types).

Well, it’s the middle of winter; a time when any self-respecting sportsman begins prepping for the ultimate sport – fly fishing.

For me, it’s always the same ritual. I am usually blessed each Christmas with stacks of wonderful books, both fiction and non-fiction, on fly fishing. Right about this time, I start diving into them, mentally preparing myself for the upcoming season with stories from some of the best writers in the world.

 The book I’m reading now, “On the Spine of Time,” has a great fly fishing metaphor along the lines of why don’t we quit making a living and start living a life. Which just goes to show that fly fishermen also make the best writers and all that time spent on the stream accounts for something other than just fishing. 

Of course, it’s also time to start replenishing my arsenal of flies, which I tie myself. The majority are, or I should now say were, for salmon, although I do mix in a few for trout.

Alaska salmon flies are, well, interesting. Compared to the delicate artistic trout flies used in the Lower 48, salmon flies are just big, honking conglomerates. It’s like comparing a ballet dancer to Hulk Hogan.

Trout flies try to mimic the small insects the fish feed on. Salmon flies are big, furry, don’t look like anything close to the insect world, and come in the most obnoxious colors you can imagine. Think classical music verses rap music, and you get the point.

I love the names of salmon flies – Woolly Bugger, Flash Fly, Happy Meal and the ultimate of all time, the Egg-Sucking Leach. And if you could only fish one fly in Alaska, I’d take the Egg-Sucking Leach with a dark purple body and a hot pink head any time. Now, what self-respecting fish wouldn’t just jump at that?

At these times, I also reminisce about the previous season: the monster king salmon that got away; the day every other cast brought in a silver to the extent that my fly was so torn up I as practically catching them with nothing but a hook.

And how can I forget the time I caught my son, Caleb? I say caught as in fishing, not as in he did something wrong. I hope my wife is reading this part.

No, I did not throw him in the river and try to fish him out. You see, I have this backpack/harness contraption that I can set Caleb in and carry him on my back. He loved to go fishing with me, but the problem was when I had a fish on, he would try to swing around to see. Often times, I’d be trying to reel in a fish and, at the same time, trying to push him back behind me so he wouldn’t tumble over. You’d have to see it to actually appreciate it, but I think you get the picture.

Anyway, I was in my back cast when the wind shifted just slightly and blew my line over. I heard this thud, which was really, really weird sound, followed immediately by an “ooooowwwwweeeee” from Caleb. The thud was the fly hitting the back of Caleb’s head.

Fortunately for both of us, he was wearing a hat, which mitigated the impact. I guess that’s why the sound came out as a thud instead of a whack. For some reason, Caleb didn’t care for the harness too much after that.

As I wrap this up, I would be remiss, well, stupid really, not to point out that Monday is our seventh anniversary. I could write several columns about how wonderful she is, but let it suffice that it’s been the best seven years of my life. And so, here’s to you, Corby.

Until next time.


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