Years ago, before the local reservoir’s dam road was four-lane, there was a ditch running parallel behind the dam where I liked to fly fish. The ditch ran parallel to the massive earthen dam, on top of which was Spillway Road. I liked the ditch because I could bank fish it easily from the manicured lawn, provided courtesy of the maintenance personnel. I could easily cast from one side to the other and there were no trees to interfere. The ditch was not a managed fishery because in the Spring the river would flood it and in the summer the water was stagnant. So while the fishing was not very predictable it was replenished every Spring with new fish, so some years were better than others, but certainly the fishing was always good enough for a lazy Saturday afternoon with a fly rod.
The trouble with the “the ditch” was “The Dock”, which was a local drinking establishment which received a steady stream of patrons. Half or more of those patrons made their way to “The Dock” by driving along Spillway Road just above “the ditch”. I was accustomed to being shouted at from the top of the dam and though it was annoying, I just ignored the comments. It wasn’t enough to keep me away from fishing “the ditch”.
One afternoon I made a cast and immediately got a strike, but I missed setting the hook. In an effort to protect my tippet and keep from striking the fish too hard, I picked up the rod hard and quick, but I stopped short. Since there was no fish and I had stopped the rod, there was now slack in the line which was coming back at me in great, big, loops. Well, it looked pretty bad, like I didn’t know how to cast. I was hoping no one would notice and I sheepishly turned to look back toward Spillway Road. Well the timing was perfect, unfortunately. To my horror, some inebriated good ole boy had his pants pulled down and was hanging his rear end out the window of a car while his buddy yelled “FLYYYYYYYY FIIIIISSSSHINNNNGG IS BULLSHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! Special effects provided by what every high school student learns about sounds from a moving source, the Doppler effect.
As the loops of fly line landed on me, draping me in orange fly line like I had a bowl of spaghetti turned over on me, I couldn’t help but think, at that particular moment, he had a point.
Don’t let slack line make a fool out of you.