The other day I mentioned getting the gift of a fly rod from a friend. It's not a fancy rod, more of a workman's fiberglass model. Eight foot, foam handle, seven weight Daiwa. I was happy to accept it.
Darrell hadn't used it in thirty or more years. And didn't look like he was ready to start buggy whipping for bass anytime soon. When I wiped the dust off the rod it looked to be new. Happy day. And now I'm headin' down south to crud up his gift in a whole new world of fish who'll no doubt scorn my ignorant offerings.
I've known Darrell for better than fifty years. Not that we've been inseparable friends, more like our lives have followed wavy lines that have crossed paths now and then. In the beginning we saw each other a lot and over the last few we've grown close again. That might have more to do with our wives who were best friends back when they were kids.
Oddly enough, even though we're both fishermen, we've spent little time on the water together. Took forty years till we finally got in the boat together on the little lake up north where he and his wife have their summer home. We trolled the shore one evening and threw tubes to bass. Even caught a few.
Gotta admit I was nervous. Yeah, I knew what I was doing. At least I thought I did. Over the decades I'd caught my share, maybe even more than my share. But Darrell, at least in my mind, was a unproclaimed master. The kind that rarely gets skunked. And in the few times when he did, accepted it as calmly as the times he'd landed a boatload of wall hangers. In short, I hoped I wouldn't fall out of the boat.
Lois and I had shown up at their house to spend a few pleasant hours. Darrell suggested fishing, even loaned me a rod. I recognized the brand and knew it was a cut above my sticks. But, what the hell, I expected no less from him.
It was a fine evening. A nice enough one in good company so the fishing wasn't but a little icing on the cake. That I landed a couple of fish may have had more to do with his knowledge of the lake and its honey holes than my fishing ability. At least I didn't screw it up. As for Darrell, he was running the trolling motor, blind casting over his shoulder, telling me where to throw my tube and he still out fished me.
Darrell and Linda have a winter home in the Keys. Not sure if they're down there for the winter climate or the iguanas that run wild. Or maybe the resident manatee who seems to have a thing for drinking fresh water from the hose. Could be the ocean also has something to do with it. You see, their home lies on a canal with access to the gulf. Throw in what I consider a big boat ( Darrell says it's a small craft ) and, what the hell, why not go out and sample the fishing once in a while? Weather allowing that once in a while is most every day.
Darrell's fresh water experience didn't help a whole lot when he first came to salt water. Yeah, he knew the pointy end of the boat was the front end and the fat end of the rod was the one to hang onto. From there on it was a learning experience. And over the years, he (and Linda) did. Got to know where to go and what to put on the end of the line that'd put fish in the boat. And get a handle on what kind of fish lived in the waters and how they took to the fryin' pan, or grill, or smoker.