April 8, 2010

On being refused.

You've got to really be able to accept the rejection.
Barry Mann

It's a part of life. Being rejected. Refused. Being told 'no'. Sent back to try again. Re-write this, re-build that. The all too infamous 'no, I won't go out with you...'
It's also a familiar, and oft-repeated circumstance when we pursue our passion of catching fish with flies, although we tend to downplay its significance the more often it occurs, unless of course it serves the loftier purpose of adding a dimension of intrigue to our recounting of certain accomplishments.
It sometimes seems to me when thinking of some of the more classic instances of their rejection of my offerings, that trout seemingly have as many ways to refuse a fly as we have flies in our boxes. There are several types that have been observed, or suffered through often enough to warrant being given a specific name, some of which are not at all repeatable in mixed company.
But, hardly a fishing day will pass by without there being a beautiful cast made at just the right moment with what is thought to be the perfect fly to the exact spot where it drifts drag free into the strike zone and you feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up and there's this tension in the air and you just know that something's about to happen and sure enough wham there's a savage splash where your fly is and you lift your rod... and have to duck as your fly line attacks and drapes itself around your head and shoulders in a most complex macrame' and there's your fly staring at you as it dangles from the brim of your cap. Hmm...
I've had many refusals that I like to call 'excuse me's'. This phenomenon usually occurs when I fish to pods of feeders. I also call it 'running the gauntlet', because my fly will travel serenely through a slot inhabited by many noses, most of them at some point breaking the surface of the water in such close proximity to my fly as draw first a gasp, which is followed in short order by a sudden nervous twitch on my part because I'm so damned sure that it was my fly that disappeared. It's only when I see the wake the fly created with my sudden twitch that I am embarrassed once again. I've had days when 'running the gauntlet' got to be the challenge, due to a dearth of interest in anything I offered. In that regard, I've had some extremely good days.
A sunny morning two years ago in mid-August comes to mind. I was just downstream of the Hardy Bridge on the Missouri River fishing an Elk Hair Caddis to a couple of large dark shadows that hovered in slow water to the inside edge of the mouth of a fast moving channel. My first cast got what I thought was a nod of approval. The larger shadow broke rank as the fly neared where I thought it to be head high. Indeed I was tensed and ready when the brown suddenly accelerated, broke the surface, and in an amazing show of athleticism, flew directly, gracefully, over my fly landing nose first, turned, and swam lazily away downstream, taking his partner with him. Ole'!
Maybe that's why I sometimes prefer fishing subsurface. At least that way I can't see them refuse my offering.

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