(Editor’s Note: While many if not most of you consider Alan’s recollections and fish tales to be mostly fiction, they mostly aren’t. The silliness that follows definitely is...maybe.)
Those of you inclined to visit various TU Chapters on a regular basis, and those of you that hang out on the fly fishing forums may have become involved with the debate about fly fishing etiquette. To be specific, the debate about who has the right of way on a trout stream....the upstream fishing dry fly elitist, or the lowly knuckle dragging (I bet they are fishing with corn) downstream angler.
Not to stir the pot further, but who cares? I have yet to see a One-Way sign posted on any of the waters that I frequent, and besides that, the idea that anyone traipsing up – or down – through my favorite pool has some kind of “right-of-way” privilege is preposterous. I’m more concerned with, “What are you doing in my pool in the first place!”
I can’t count the times that after driving countless miles to my favorite water; after hauling my stuff from the trunk and luggin’ it to the creek...that I find some slub that I don’t even know sitting on my rock...fishing my pool. What has happened to manners? The coarsening of America has crossed the line.
Short of putting up a sign (and believe me, I know how to paint me a sign) what must I do? On any given weekend I am there. Any casual observer knows it’s my spot. You can see the little hollowed out place I’ve made for my cooler and if you look up and to the left of that you’ll see the nail in the sycamore where I hang my provisions, so as to keep them away from the little crawly things. And if you haven’t figured out what that perfectly carved out can shaped depression is for...well, you’ve been spending too much time readin’ American Angler and other such high-falutin’ rags instead of catchin’ fish. There I sit all day (unless I’m napping) just having myself a good time, casting and sittin’ and waiting for a fish to bite. I know there are fish in that pool ‘cause I’ve seen some of you wadin’ and walkin’ types catch them right under my nose. And I know that I can catch them too, cause you see, I’m all about patience. But my patience wears a little thin when you’ve grabbed my spot. It’s my spot and everyone knows it.
I recall a time about June of last year when a carload of young women had set up camp at my spot. I was outraged. Not only had they overtaken my hole, but they weren’t even fishing! Nope, they were sun bathin’ and causing a commotion like you’ve never seen. In no time at all, right there in front of them, waist deep in the river, lined up shoulder to shoulder and mumblin’ to themselves, was at least a dozen Orvis outfitted dandies...slobberin’ all over themselves and staring at the women folk. You can’t tell me that commotion didn’t stir up the fish.
No sir, that kind of crowd, with nothing on their minds but fighting for a better view and the impure thoughts that followed, couldn’t have cared less about disturbin’ the water. Even if I had run them and the girls out, I doubt I’d have caught anything anyway, so I just sat myself down in the midst of the girls, so as to protect ‘em if things got out of hand. I sat there for a good long time too. Even shared my Vi-enna sausages and crackers with the ladies.
About sundown the girls noticed that they were about tanned-up and headed for the house, leaving me there to direct the traffic. The guys that remembered which direction they came from were easy to deal with, but the others put on quite a show; bumping into each other, falling in over the tops of their rubber pants and cussin’ each other to no end. I finally had to lay down the law and play traffic cop. Everyone wearing a proper old fashioned fly vest was directed to move away upstream and those wearing those Disneyworld tourist purses, I mean fanny packs...or those new fangled necklaces with the little thingies attached...was told to head downstream.
So, lookin’ back on that episode (which I often do), maybe there’s somethin’ to be said for this etiquette stuff. Maybe I’ll start me a club and we’ll create a new etiquette. Might even start up a website to promote the proper behavior. RULE #1...stay outta my spot!