Thursday, April 14, 2016


I was already a few fish deep when two other anglers walked up on my spot. I obviously was not in ownership of the water in front of me but I had been there for almost an hour and had come to think of it as mine. They were talking loudly back and forth about WOD’s and burpee’s. I’m hip enough to know those are cross-fit terms but have no idea what they mean. I stared blindly off into the distance. “Mending Wall”, by Robert Frost came to mind.

The loudest one spoke to me first. He was dressed fresh out of a catalog and had Fabio hair. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the plastic was still wrapped around the cork of his fly rod. His first question was “what’s the fly of the day?” and the second was “how many have you caught so far?”

I began to feel crowded. I told him anything with action and a little flash would work and that I hadn’t seen a fish yet. That’s when the other guy, armed with a spinning rod and a Sluggo, said “Well, you’re about to.”

I started reeling line to get ready to make a move deeper into the marsh and backed out of the water as the Sluggo guy started casting. I wished them good luck and started toward a spot down the creek where I could put some mud and grass between us.

I walked through the marsh for a bit and then dropped down over the sod bank into a narrow finger creek that fed back out to the river. I had just begun to cast when I heard someone behind me. I turned expecting to see my two new friends but was relieved when I saw it was someone else. I knew this guy only in passing and had never really had a conversation with him as he seemed as intent on fishing alone as I am. The only communication between us was a slight nod of the head as he passed by.

He took a spot a comfortable distance away and I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he tied on a fly. He was too far off for me to see what he was tying on but it was clear that a roll of tape was being used. I decided he was probably taping his fingers to protect old friction cuts or prevent new ones and went back to casting.

For the next thirty minutes I watched him catch a handful of fish while I caught none. He made up his line and walked back past me and said, “Going back up to the flat.” I grunted in acknowledgement and counted to sixty before easing my way into the spot he had just left.

The tide turned and I started back up the creek once the water hit knee level. I saw Fabio and Sluggo watching my silent friend with a fish on. His next three casts were hook ups. I stood up on the bank and watched. Each time my quiet friend brought a fish to hand Fabio would move closer to him and he would turn away shielding the fish from Fabio as he released it. It was obvious he didn’t want Fabio to see what fly he was catching them on.

I found some bait working in a pocket along the bank and made a few casts. There were stripers in there but they didn’t want what I was showing them. I started digging through my fly box and saw my silent friend approaching. He handed me a clean 2/0 Mustad 34007, a roll of strapping tape and some strands of yellow nylon rope. He told me to tape the strands on top of the shank with three wraps of tape. I did as instructed and tied the hook on to my leader. Two casts later I was tight to a striper. Fabio and Sluggo had seen this and were on their way to investigate.

As I released the fish my silent friend said he had beers back at his truck and then walked away. I took that as an invite. I quickly cut off my new go-to fly and stowed it in my box before Fabio could see it. I passed by my loud friends, wished them good luck and made my way back to the parking lot.

Two beers later my silent friend and I were sitting on the tailgate of his truck silently listening to the Red Sox get beat by the Yankees when Fabio and Sluggo walked by.

“What were you guys using for flies tonight?” Fabio asked.

My silent friend reached into the cooler, handed me another beer and answered, “WOD’s.”

That evening was three seasons ago. I've fished beside my silent friend a dozen times since then. I still don't know his name.

I found the strands of rope from that night this morning as I pulled gear together to take to southern water in a few days. I think I’ll bring these along to share with another quiet friend of mine.

 The Gear Room
14 April 2016

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