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Paying Your Dues

Wooly Bugger

By Steve Siciliano

It began raining again as soon as we turned off the two track onto Six Mile Road.

“Rotten day for fishing,” Harry said while rolling up his window.

“Oh, we’re definitely going to get wet,” I said while rolling up mine.

When we got to the bridge Harry pulled his old Jeep into the clearing at the public access and we looked at the river through the slapping of the windshield wipers.

“It’s high all right,” Harry said. “We better get out and take a look.”

We walked up to the asphalt and then onto the bridge and looked downstream at the rain swollen river.

“See anything?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, lots of muddy water.”

“I think I saw a rise on the right by that cluster of logs.”

“Wishful thinking,” I said. “I don’t think they’ll be rising today.”

“Then we’ll use nymphs.”

“It may be too muddy for nymphs.”

“Streamers then.”

“It may be too muddy for streamers.”

“Well,” Harry said. “What do you think we should do?”

“I think we should go to breakfast.”

While we were walking off the bridge a pickup pulled into the parking area and by the time we got back to the Jeep a young man had the tailgate open and was threading line through the eyes of a fly rod. “Morning fellas,” he said. “Going fishing?”

“Not today,” Harry said. “Say, that’s a nice looking rod. Split bamboo?”

“Sure is,” the young man said. “1954 Abercrombie and Fitch. It was my grandfather’s.”

“You actually going out?” I asked. “The water’s pretty muddy and it doesn’t look like this rain is going to end anytime soon.”

The young man sat on the tailgate and began pulling on his waders. “Sure am. I might not catch any fish but like my grandfather used to say, it’s a perfect day for paying your dues.”

Harry pulled his oilcloth hat further down over his eyes. “What did he mean by that?”

The young man put on his fishing vest and took a fly box out from one of the front pockets. “Think I’ll start with a Wooly Bugger,” he said to himself then smiled and looked up at Harry. “It would only take ten seconds for grandpa to tie an improved clinch knot and he could tie a surgeon’s knot in the dark. I never saw him put a fly in a tree and he was a master at reading the water. But he was totally convinced that the only reason he caught a lot of trout was that he wasn’t a fair weather fisherman. He called it being willing to pay his dues. I know for a fact that if he was still alive he would be wading in that river.”

It was still raining an hour later when Harry and I were at the Irons Café. “We’ll take the check,” I said when the waitress came up to the table with a pot of coffee. When we were back in the Jeep we lit our pipes and sat staring out the window.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Harry asked.

“Probably,” I said.

Harry started the engine and put the Jeep in gear. “Well, where do you think we should go?”

“How about Hopper Junction” I said. “I’ve got a new wooly bugger I’ve been wanting to try.”

1 Comment

Yumi Vega
Yumi Vega
Feb 06, 2023

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