Friday, November 11, 2005

Fish Tales

i offered advice to florida cracker over at pure florida on how to fish with wonder bread. stick a wad of it on a hook. he complimented me on being a realist, and not a fly-fishing purist. i have done a bit of fly fishing, but mostly bait. i actually started out using a drop line through the cracks in the boards of the capitola pier. that was when squid was fish bait for whitebread california. i was six. it was 1948. now it's called calamari and is pricey. i have tried lures once or twice. never worked for me. my objective is catching fish to eat. i grew up fishing the santa cruz mountains and the sierras, and of course the pacific ocean. i kept flies with me to use on my spinning rod, though mostly i used little bugs called helgramites that lived in the small creeks where i fished. the spinning rig was of little use really. i hardly ever had more that 15 feet of line out, and when i did it was to drift a fly down a long pool. i did use the same pole and reel for baitcasting in the ocean.

there it is: artificial flies and baitcasting. i knew i was going somewhere. i went to oregon state university in the early 60s. we had to take so many units of PE. my buddy and i found a PE course called "baitcasting." wow. we signed up. an evening class? we arrive at the designated room at the proper time. maybe twenty young men are there. the instructor walks in, writes his name on the board and gives us the following intro to baitcasting 101:

"i've been teaching this course for twenty three years, and my father taught it before me for many years. all this time the official course name has been baitcasting. from the beginning the course has been instruction in fly-tying. artificial flies for catching fish. sorry if any of you were fooled and i understand completely if you want to leave. go ahead. but i assure you that tying flies is interesting and i invite you to stay."

we stayed and tied. it was fun. there was no deep, or even shallow, philosophy in this class, but i did learn how to tie flies. later in life i learned how to tie steelhead flies, which are much bigger than trout flies. that is, artificial flies intended to catch steelhead, which i actually used to catch fish. i have not gone fishing for years. i do go clamming here on the quimper peninsula.

below are pictures of fly fishing poles i inherited from my maternal grandfather. he took up fly fishing when he moved to yreka in 1918 or thereabout. he also met my grandmother there, where she was born. both poles are bamboo. he built the one on the right from a piece of unsplit bamboo with it's natural taper. it has ferules, connectors, and line guides. i have never used it. the one on the left is made from split bamboo glued together to form a hexagonal, tapered pole. he bought that one. i have used it for fly fishing with flies i tied. i think i even caught a trout. it has the name "Goodwin Granger & Co" in faint letters on the reel seat. a bit of internet research reveals that Goodwin C. Granger probably made it in 1920 in denver.

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