Nobody likes being the nostalgic steelheader in the room, but increasingly I find myself as the gray haired guy at the table waxing poetic about how great wild steelhead...
Now, I had a real Alice’s Restaurant moment here. Except I didn’t get arrested for littering; I got arrested for picking up litter. I was an unlitterer. You cannot possibly get more pansy than that. I almost laughed. But, as it often happens, while my brain was working on the perfect thing to say, my mouth was already running. I heard myself saying “Being free.”Sometimes, it’s hard to tell sheer dumb luck from genius. He looked at me. Everybody looked at me. You could’ve heard those cops fart in the interrogation room over at the police station, it was so quiet. He reached out a hand and put it on my shoulder and all I was thinking was, if I ever get out of this, I will never bemoan not being a pretty man again. He smiled down at me and with his other hand pointed to the lunch line. “Get yer grub, come sit with us.” It was then that I could see the Live Free or Die tattoo on his bicep. I did what he said and sat with my new friend, Earl, and listened to some pretty good stories at lunch. Like, when they arrested him, they took his Harley. Some dude outbid his club member for it at auction. “Shit man, that sucks, I’m sorry.”
“Okay guys, this is a little different than the river. So what I’ll do is this, I’ll cast it out there, and then I’ll hand the rod to one of you, and then you strip it in, and we’ll keep doing that until you get a fish, and then we trade. If anybody comes, you drop the rod and run. We’ll meet back at the car. Good?” Nods all around. “Okay, who’s first?”There wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation, Paulie and Darryl pushed Louie forward. I made a nice long cast out into the pond to a few oohs and ahhs and realized they had never actually seen a cast before. The fly landed with a satisfying “plop!” (something nobody said ever about a trout fly) and I handed the rod over, showing him how to strip without actually doing it, lest I hook a fish by mistake. “Go like this,” I said, “and if you hear a splash, lift the tip of the rod up? Got it?” In the dark I could see his big eyes and serious face as he nodded.