A Brief Affair

The Bastard

The Bastard

Written by Jennifer Olsson
Illustration by Parks Reece

Big Sky Journal – Fly Fishing 2010

A Brief Affair

It was on a wild western river that rolled over worn rocks and boulders when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  Like last call at a pub, trout feed more brazenly on the surface just before the sun goes down, and he was making time in a back eddy.

He rose once, then twice.  The best trout of my life have always been sly.  I admired him as he sipped caddis pupae, careful not to expose himself.  I could tell by the large ring he left he was a bad boy, the kind I could brag about on Facebook.  The kind with a tail so wide it would look like a baby whale had taken a header into my landing net.

He was no fool.  I’d have to be wise.  Make him think it was his idea.  Keep a low profile, pretend to ignore him.  This drives them crazy because when you finally strike, they have no idea what hit them.

I didn’t want to take any chances.  I used a fresh 10-foot, 4X leader on an 8-foot 6-inch split-cane rod.  I had to have every advantage, be my best, and look my best.

He had just fed and turned under when I made my play.  Casting downstream I allowed the leader to pile up in nice loose loops.  He wouldn’t get upset by any drag.

“Hello,” said my number 16 deer-hair pupae.

“What’s up,” he said coolly while taking down a natural.

Then I waited, not wanting to be too obvious.  He fed twice, his big shoulders rounding as he pulled through the water.  I felt dizzy.  I wasn’t sure who was in control.  He was teasing me to distraction.  I cast again.  My fly floated past his feeding lane.  He didn’t come up.  I know he was hungry, but I would make him wait.

He rose again.  He took my fly into his mouth.  The heft of the mighty trout’s body pulled my desire behind it.  The reel screamed, I screamed.  Geese scattered.  I could tell in the first 10 yards I had met the trout I had waited for all my life.  He was magnificent.  Coming out of the water he cartwheeled across the surface.  “You’re feisty,” I complimented, hoping to flatter and get his attention while turning him against the current.

But then he played hard to get.  He bucked and shook then torpedoed downstream.  I thought it was temporary, he’d see things my way.  But I was so wrong.  He John Wayned me over rocks and river bed.  He was rough but I tried to be stronger, taking his abuse while running clickity-clack in studded wading boots over slippery stones.  Couldn’t he understand my dedication?  I was giving him everything and he only took.  ‘

“Don’t go.  Please don’t leave.  Stay.” I begged.  The backing started to play out anyway.

I knew it was over before it was over.  I just didn’t want to admit it.  Not enough line control.  Maybe years ago when I was younger I could have kept up.  Why do I torture myself with the likes of him?  When will I ever learn?

I had already begun to quietly weep when the line went slack.