“Dang!” Use your Imagination…

If trout could talk, and I know I’m stretching my imagination – and yours – a bit perhaps, but use your imagination and please play along. This goes way back to the days of my youth (that phrase always reminds me of the song “Good Times, Bad Times” from Led Zeppelin I, but I promise not to digress anymore), when as a boy of seven or eight, my brother, Larry, and I were reading my dad’s copy of To Hell With Fishing, 1945, by Ed Zern and H. T. Webster. To Hell With Fishing was illustrated with cartoons by H. T. Webster, all good ones that spoof and poke fun at fly fishing and related situations and circumstances. I read that book and looked at the pictures so many times as a boy and a young man that now, fifty years later, from memory, I can still recall most of the cartoon subtitles: Life’s Darkest Moments, The Thrill That Comes Once in a Lifetime, How to Torture Your Wife, and How to Torture Your Husband. A number of Webster’s cartoons featured strip-style scenes with talking trout. If I can dig up my copy of that book, I’ll post the photo of my favorite series of a big brown, doing all the talking as he bragged to a little trout how many different flies he’d eaten and leaders he broke over the years in order to survive. That might convince you all that I do come by this stretch of imagination honestly. For further validation of my “honest imagination” I note that Ed Zern penned the famous quotation, “Fly fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.”

So, if trout could talk, I imagine that something like the word “dang,” might have been the first utterance by the pictured individuals who are part of the resident population of Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek. These ladies and gentlemen, after trying to eat my fly on Sunday, April 29th, were summarily brought to hand, against their will, much to their amazement, surprise, and chagrin. After posing for these photos, upon their release, (we are still in imagine mode now), they had to endure the certainty of humiliation as they swam back to their companions who no doubt ridiculed them for their fool-hardy behavior. The words spoken by these embarrassed individuals in self-defense to their family and friends no doubt varied, but again, using my imagination, must have gone something like this: “Dang. I could have sworn that was a real fly!”

“Dang. I could have sworn that was a real fly.” Spring Creek brown taken with the ever-dependable Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph, size #20. This was the only fish of nearly 40 that fell victim this day to “fake-food.” The rest were taken on drys.

“Of course I thought it was real. Why else would I have eaten this thing?” This was the first trout of about 20 that ate my original Floating Caddis Emerger, size #16. Sorry I can’t divulge the pattern because this week I am submitting it to Orvis for possible acceptance as one of their cataloged Contract Fly Patterns. Now, if I could only get some of these trout to participate in the Orvis Conferences on their new fly patterns for 2013…but then I’d probably have to pay their travel expenses to Manchester, Vermont; hotels, meals, entertainment, shuttle service…nah. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed. All you can see from here is that it’s a buggy-looking  fly – bedraggled, wet, matted, and disheveled. And it is effective. Very much so, after eight years of field-testing has proven.

“Looked real to me. Boy do I feel stupid.”

“But it moved, and twitched, and looked alive! I thought it was about to escape! So I ate it.”

“Did you see me? I was the first one to get there and eat this fly. I beat out two of my buddies, but look what happened. Boy, I feel really dumb.”

This rainbow is the only trout of that species that I have hooked thus far on five Spring Creek trips this year, of close to 100 others, all browns.

“I even posed for another photo…I guess the Fish God or whatever that thing was liked me. And I lived to tell you all about it! I still swear that fly was real. What, do you think I’m an idiot here?”

“But it looked just like all the other bugs I was eating! There was nothing wrong with them. Everybody makes mistakes…once in a while.”

About 2:30 PM I switched to a Sulphur Comparadun, size #14, since Sulphurs were starting to hatch and the trout fed on them. I took this fellow and a dozen-and-a-half more, all on that pattern before Truman and I headed home about five-thirty PM.

More to follow…

4 comments on ““Dang!” Use your Imagination…

  1. John Larsen says:


    I think I remember that book from my childhood or one similar. I seem to recall one cartoon that was titled “How to tell a Yale man” or something like that. I’ll have to see if I can dig it up. You also got me thinking about the Patrick McManus books. Those books are one of a few that make me laugh out loud when reading, much to the annoyance of my wife.

    Great post and thanks for rekindling old memories.


    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi John;
      Thanks for your comment on this post. Glad you liked my “imaginative” approach. Pat McManus is one of my favorite outdoor humorists. Like you, my wife could always tell whenever I was reading McManus because of my outbursts of mirth.
      I once car-pooled to a Trout Unlimited State Council Meeting in Western Pennsylvania, traveling along Interstate 80, reading McManus aloud, to the satisfaction and hilarity of the other passengers. Good thing I can read and drive at the same time. :mrgreen: Kidding…I was a passenger…That was back before cell phone was even a word. 😉
      Thanks again for your comment!

  2. NYCflyangler says:

    I’ve noticed that in pictures caught trout look scared.

    On the other hand, caught pike seem to just look pissed.

    ‘@#&*%$@&! angler, that looked good. I was *&^%@#%ing hungry. You better watch your fingers when you’re removing the hook, boyo.’

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi NYCflyangler;
      Thanks for your comment! I’d have to say I don’t think trout have much of an expression regardless, but I do agree with you that pike, also pickerel and muskys DO looked pissed. Thanks again!

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