The procrastinator's guide to fly fishing gifts

Last second recommendations for gifts and gifting
The Orvis Helios 3 fly rod (photo: Chad Shmukler).
There are any number of people who start thinking about Christmas in August, who have their shopping all done by Halloween, and who have their homes decorated with plastic candy canes and fake Santas before Thanksgiving even rolls around. I am not one of those people. In fact, I’m not a big fan of Christmas as a celebration of consumerism, or of turning on the holiday lights in mid-November. If that’s your deal, so be it ... but don’t be surprised if you hear the occasional “Bah, humbug” from the peanut gallery.

Mountain Fork Creek

Part 2 of a 2-part story
Artwork: Shay Clanton
The spinner whirled beneath the branches of the hackberry and stopped. I reared back, irritated, knowing I would have to wade in and probably go under water to retrieve it. The hole would be ruined for the rest of the afternoon. The bass fisherman in me, always looking for the ultimate weedless rig, hook points embedded in the plastic worm, rubber frog with hooks out of sight inside, was disgusted by the exposed treble on the weighted Aglia. It was just a loss waiting to happen. A great fish erupted from the hole and shot over the shallows at its downstream edge, its multihued back clear of the water, spray flying from the swing of its tail. The spinner was stuck in the deep hook of its’ upper jaw. I gaped but kept the rod tip up and held on. The commotion was outrageous, totally out of place along this placid creek. I had then a Zebco Cardinal spinning reel which was the finest fishing reel that I have ever owned. The drag fed smoothly as the trout made a long run downstream, then turned and came all the way back, snagging the line in the hackberry and burning up current. I jumped in the water and freed the line, followed him. At another cattle ford not far away, after ten minutes of watching him circle the shallows like some dramatic aquarium show, I landed him. I had never fought a fish like that, had never seen a “run,” though of course I had read about them in the magazines. The fish lay on the gravels at my feet. I had never seen a big rainbow in the flesh. I was suddenly terrified that someone had seen the fight, and I looked around wildly at the empty woods and fields. The fish gaped, its huge hooked jaws working. I quieted the shaking in my hands and popped the spinner loose, and I turned him right side up in the water, which was so cold on my hands that it seemed a miracle that such a creature could live in it. I knew that if I picked him up, he would thrash out of my hands and hit the gravel and kill himself. I knew this for a fact. His body felt as cold and hard as a stone. His tail was large enough that I could grasp it in one hand and move him back and forth, reviving him, as I had seen it done in the magazines, and as I had done with bass. I figured him to weigh at least four pounds. He swam away slowly across the shallows, turned and disappeared into the shoalwater, heading back under the hackberry. I caught this fish once more, a month or so later, and many times he followed my spinners out into the open where I could marvel at him. I called him “trout under the tree,” and many nights, lying awake in my bed, I thought of him there, hunting, drifting in the hyper-aerated wash under the hackberry limbs, powerful and alive.

Mountain Fork Creek

Part 1 of a 2-part story
Artwork: Shay Clanton
It is possible that someone has broken my twenty year old record for the largest rainbow trout ever taken by fair means in the state of Alabama, but if so I have never heard of it. My only witness was a high school classmate whom I had sworn to secrecy, and I released the record fish, and never caught it again. Out of fear that the spectacular limestone creek where that fish and a few others like him lived would be overrun with fishermen, I told only a few, very trusted people, no more than three or four over twenty years.

A tip for the taxi driver

Canada is a country of contradictions
Photo: Tuerkis Doerky / cc2.0
“Do you happen to remember how much tip I gave the taxi driver?”

“Well, I didn’t see the coins, but from his face I think it was ten cents.”

—The Palm Beach Story

Canada is a country of contradictions. As someone observed, it’s a nation that had the singular opportunity to embrace the very best the world has to offer: French cuisine, British culture, and American technology. Instead, Canada opted for British cuisine, American culture, and French technology.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Your indicator is too big

How effective your nymphing rig is depends on choosing the right indicator
Photo: Domenick Swentosky
Floating a couple of nymphs under an indicator is undeniably effective. In the right place and with the right conditions, flies under an indicator will outperform a tight line presentation all day long — all things have a moment to shine. But reaping the benefits of an indicator presentation takes some refinement of tactics. It’s not good enough to slap on whatever floatation device you dig up from the bottom of your chest pack.