My gaze was fixed on the rain dimpled water, searching for another rise from a cruising fish who had just stolen my bottom fly. When I set the hook I felt a small amount of pressure and before I could strip line the rod relaxed and the dropper was gone, but the fish kept feeding nearby like it hadn’t been stung. I chalked this up to the fish most likely having large teeth or that I had tied a shitty knot, even though a pig tail wasn’t present. As I watched to see if he would continue his current trajectory I pulled the replacement fly from my wader pouch and blindly stuffed my arm into my fishing bag. This is a dangerous move. A pack rat on LSD couldn’t have crafted anything close to its chaotic interior, this window to my soul. It’s full of old beer cans, old sandwiches, garbage from the river like rats nests of discarded line and sometimes a few pieces of useful fishing gear. Nothing is organized and sometimes things go in there that never come out, victims of this tiny isolated universe and it’s deranged anti-omniscient god.
As I dove forearm deep in the bag I bloodied myself on old rusty flies and fingers were caught like blind dolphins in a net of collected mono line, six pack rings, and still joined dry-dropper rigs. I managed to somehow free a spool of 4X from this strange jungle. I used it earlier to tie on my original rig and was surprised to find it as it wasn’t attached to my tippet stack. I peeled two feet off of this mystery spool and attached the dropper. I kept looking for another rise ring to appear, but it never came.
Shortly after I set the hook on another fish, and just like before he popped me off with little pressure. I stubbornly rerigged with the last bit of tippet on that mystery spool, and on the next hook set the definition of insanity vividly came to fruition.
My buddy Zack, who had just landed the nice fish in the picture up top, chimed in “Is your tippet old?”
I laughed to keep from crying because he was right. It had probably been in my hellacious mess of a bag for years, lost like Robin Williams in Jumanji. The old faded Rio label confirmed the tippets age and loss of vigor. The spirits that inhabit Super Secret Cove By The Road must have shaken this relic from the bowels of the bag and after recognizing my hubris in attempting to catch the same fish twice they made sure the loose spool made it to my eager hand again and again.
I’m now going through the process of building a new and organized fishing bag, like the ones I used to maintain meticulously before I got into the habit of eating crow baked by my own hubris. Here’s to non-punctured hands, actual organization, and getting back in the habit of inscribing dates on tippets that may get lost in the jungle for 40 years. It could happen to you…