I’m sliding down a slippery slope.
For some people it’s drugs or alcohol. For others, it’s cigarettes, food or sex. But my addiction has burrowed deep into my DNA and wrapped its iniquitous tendrils around my very being. Its name is fly fishing.
Yes, today I took the first fly I ever tied to the cold waters of the Sipsey River. The fuzzy fly looked like a mangy caterpillar.
I was standing on the edge, and about to fall into the abyss. I said a silent prayer that trout would shun my fly like the pox. But nay, a foot-long rainbow partook of that mangy fly and headed to deeper water.
And in that moment I realized, as the old song goes, I was “One toke over the line sweet Jesus.”
I now think about fishing constantly. When I’m at home I’m reading books, watching instructional videos, and drooling over outfitter catalogs. I have a framed map of the Montana rivers on my wall. Yes, I have it bad.
How did I get to this sorry state of affairs? It started out so innocently — I had an old fly fishing rig that my dad left me when he passed away. I’ve fished a few times, but I didn’t catch anything.
Then last July things changed when we vacationed with our friends Wes and Deidra Laird in Colorado. A guide taught me a few basic casting techniques, and about fly selection. I could feel that warm buzz as intoxicating as moonshine whiskey. Then the moment I landed my first rainbow trout, I knew I was hooked ... so to speak.
When we returned home, I went fishing several times on the Sipsey River just below the dam, and I caught a few fish, but I wanted more.
The hook sank deeper when I went to Helen, Georgia with my friend Dan Starnes earlier this year. We had a female guide that was really good and she helped me improve dramatically. I started catching trout every time I went fishing — I fell a little further down the well of addiction.
It soon became apparent that if I wanted to catch more and bigger fish, I needed new equipment. My old rod and reel were manufactured when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and no longer cut the bait, so to speak.
Recently on the way home from a Sipsey River fix, I stopped by my supplier — Riverside Fly Shop, which is located on Highway 69 just below Smith Dam.
When I walked into that shop, I saw long willowy high tech graphite fly rods that help you to cast farther, and fly reels, no bigger than a biscuit, that click and whirr when you cast. They were marvels of modern fishing technology — they were in fact, works of art. I whipped out the American Express card and the new toys were mine.
I weighed the pros and cons of selling a kidney on eBay, then using the money to buy one of everything in the fly shop.
My lovely spouse who works at a local drug and rehab place spotted the symptoms of my addiction and promptly confiscated my checkbook and credit cards. She’s also talked to management where she works and they say I can enter the program under the employee discount plan.
She’s now looking for a Fly Fishing Anonymous meeting I can start attending. I’m not sure where my life will go from here.