Friday Classic: Tangled Up on Blue
The submerged root-ball looked like a horror movie prop. Its deepest mysteries were hidden in shadow, but what reached the light was pure menace. Meaty shrouds of river gunk waved from grabby tentacles over crevices pregnant with evil possibility. No one yelled “don’t go in there!”, and they didn’t need to. I knew I wanted nothing to do with it. Damned if somebody wasn’t beckoning me though – quiver, tug, quiver, shake, tug – through leader, line, rod and cork. My fish, irrevocably snagged, yet somehow still tied to me, was down there, in the dark place.
I didn’t have a plan exactly as I sloshed forth from the shallows, but the image in my head was of a few bold strides to the beast’s antechambers, followed by a swashbuckling lunge with the net, and then me straightening, damp but triumphant, with a hero’s reward. And my son would get one hell of a show from his front-row seat, on my back. Surely I would win his enduring admiration.
The precise order of what happened next escaped me. Three events converged, more or less, on one moment. The sturdy freestone underfoot became gutless silt, and I lost a foot of altitude. Two fish – big fish, glad they didn’t blow out my ACL fish, fish I’d been looking for all spring and most of the winter fish – bolted so closely by each knee that I felt my waders sucked momentarily outward. My son shrieked.
“Dada, Dada NOOOO… FISH, FISH, Big Blue Fish… fish’ll eat you!”
You, he said, not us. I guess he figured he’d untether himself and backstroke unmolested to safety once I was down. Soiled boxers notwithstanding, I was still only butt deep when Steven broke the spell.
“Dude you’re kidding yourself. No way he hasn’t broken you off in that mess.”
That was a week ago. My son and I have been fishing twice since then, but I’ve not waded without stern warnings from him about the Big Blue Fish. He tells me he can see its spots. The fish that damn near knocked me over were brown trout. It begs the question… just what was tugging at my line?