No “I’m your huckleberry,” or “I’ll be back,” or “Get off my plane,” was ever delivered so perfectly.
First, came the set-up, lobbed sidekick-fashion from the stern casting brace. “Think we put them down?” Kirk asked of the suddenly and conspicuously absent risers.
I’d already decided as much for myself and goosed us into the current, away from the spooked fish.
Then came the one-liner from the bow — dead flat, matter-of fact and nonchalant.
“They’re in the trees boys. I’m going in after them,” said Jeff as though he were proposing reaching for a beer.
I grinned, expecting a punchline, but he’d said all he had to say. I glanced back to the distant and retreating bank and noticed there a basketball sized hole in the otherwise unbroken snarl of brambles guarding the river’s edge.
“Huh?” I said, sure I’d misunderstood.
The sound of outbound flyline singing through the guides was his only response.
He played the wind, and the boat drift, and the current and the distance, and it all seemed so foolhardy, until, at the very last moment, his bugs, two of them mind you, turned over just so, then dropped impossibly and inevitably through the tunnel in the brush and onto the surface… which erupted upon impact.
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!” yelled Kirk and I, nearly jumping out of the boat.
“They’re in the trees boys!” I howled, slapping Jeff on the back.
“I’m going in after them!” hollered Kirk.
Jeff just grinned stripped line.
Screw timing. Delivery is everything.
The second best line of the day was delivered moments after Jeff slipped the obliging cutthroat back into the river.
“I’m glad you guys were here for that,” he said with chuckle and a sheepish smile, “ ‘cause it’ll never happen again.”
I was too.