Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

It could be said that I’ve been in a lifelong hunt for the perfect fishin’ buddy. Actually I haven’t been, really…I very much like fly fishing alone. Oh, sure, after four hours on the water if I see another angler I might give a wave and trade quick reports on what’s been working and what hasn’t, for each of us. And if an old friend comes into town, taking him out to a favorite stretch of water goes without saying. But much of what I go to a stream for is the peace with which the flow makes its journey. It gets where it’s going. It’s in no hurry. It isn’t worried about anything. I need a dose of that attitude.

I admit to watching a lot of fly fishing videos on YouTube. I consider them the single biggest reason for carrying a mobile phone to work. I’ll wander down to the lunchroom around 1pm, after the madding crowd has begun to thin out and there are free tables outside, there to chew a slice of cheap pizza while having a cyber-experience tossing dry flies to huge New Zealand rainbows or shivering out in the stormy world of Oregon steelhead. I’ll trek Patagonia in search of monster browns right before my manager’s staff meeting. The fifteen minutes of solitude in front of my phone screen is usually the highlight of my day, and I not only sometimes learn things I hadn’t known before, I get an experiential boost to the soul. I’ve nearly floated the upper Sacramento, nearly spent evenings on the Avon, nearly hacked through dense Czechoslovakian brush stalking the Marble, nearly stripped streamers for big Kenai salmon.

And I’ve “met” a fair few guides in so doing, who are often the ones who post these videos. This is where the subjects of YouTube and fishin’ buddies collide. I know many anglers say the services of a guide can be a wonderful investment, and I firmly believe there are a lot of excellent guides out there…so I have to conclude that it’s wise to know the personality and style of a pro before spending a day and part of a paycheck with him. And I have to conclude that the guides whose company I’d enjoy most might not always be the ones hyping their businesses with videos.

“There he is, right there, right behind that rock!” the voice behind the camera eyepiece is shouting. “No, the other one, the upstream one! Take two steps forward. Crouch! Good, now just lay it in right there. Yep, he’s feeding, trust me! Lay it in there…oh, nice one, mate, good cast! He’s coming, he’s coming…listen and I’ll tell ya…na-na-na-NOW! Set the hook! Yeah, you got ‘im, you’re onto him! HOOOOOOEEEY! Keep that tip up, mate! YYYYEAHH! Ooooo, no no no, follow ‘im! Don’t let him go down there, no, better run, that’s it…run down there, no, past the log!….” And eventually, “YEAH! Nice one! Hold it up. Nice fish! Are you havin’ fun today? Tell the camera, buddy, is this great or what? Yeah? Did we put you on fish or what?! Tell all the folks in internet land! HOOOOOOEEEY! Now let’s leave this place and hustle the truck over to a deep hole where I know there’s a real good one.”

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Other than being able to remember the spot so as to come back another time and actually make my own choices, I think I’d rather catch nothing than go through that. If I ever acquire the means to buy a guide’s expertise, I think I’d try to find someone who really just wants to be out fishing too, not holding a camera and not filming an advertisement and certainly not yelling out my hook-setting timing for me. It’s a style that no doubt appeals to some, but personally I’d prefer a guide who’s much more of a fishin’ buddy–happy to share fly pattern preferences and stories but light on the unsolicited advice, the “YEAH BUDDY!” and the “HOOOOOOEEEY!”

Qualities of Fishing Buddies

Even from drift boat to drift boat or along the wide shoreline of a big reservoir, much less a beautiful little stream, I’ve always kinda disliked fishing with someone who yells. I usually just give a wave but try not to respond, or quietly if I must, to signify that I heard the question but prefer to hang onto the peaceful quality of the moment.

“HEY, YOU GET ANY YET??!”

“…workin’ on it…shhhh, don’t spook ’em….”

“THEY CAN’T HEAR US! READ IT IN A MAGAZINE! HERE, I”M COMIN’ ON OVER!” …right across the water through which I’m drifting my fly.

Other qualities that might be absent in the perfect fishin’ buddy are:

Wading clumsiness, or more importantly, poor wading decisions: I don’t want to have to dive into the rapids to save anyone.

Forgetfulness: “Looks like I left my wading boots in the garage! Can I share with you, one boot each?”

Impatience: “Seven casts, and nothin’! I thought you said this place was good. Wanna try somewhere else?”

Oblivion: “Weird…nuthin’ on my favorite #20 Light Cahill dry! Worked earlier this summer…and I wish all these dang grasshoppers would stop buzzin’ past my face….”

Shameless mooching: “Dang it, lost all my Spotlight Caddis in this tree behind me! Two fifty apiece! You got any I can use?”

Tree-climbing, such as to retrieve entire leader rigs, or to score a free rubber worm hanging there for more than a year; the loud cracking of major branches makes me envision the end of the fishing and the beginning of a mad search for an ambulance.

Impairment: Arriving at the stream in an inebriated state, or pulling a flask out as a first step in setting up.

Football game boom box. ‘Nuff said.

Inability to judge proximity and direction: Someone who doesn’t realize that his back cast just picked my nose.

After I’ve set up and waded into place, any unplanned interruption: “Now where is…dang…HEY MIKE, IS THERE, LIKE, MAYBE A STORE BACK IN THAT TOWN THAT SELLS FISHING LCENSES?”

Criminal instincts: Anyone who thinks about outrunning a game warden.

Carelessness after having successfully mooched: “These are great spare waders you loaned me, dude…still kinda lightweight…fabric doesn’t seem to stop a hook point. Got any gum?” Or simply, “There goes the fly box you loaned me….”

Just plain angling stupidity: Borrowing my spare reel and then cutting the new fly line to swap leaders…or slamming car doors with fly rods around…or tying leader to line, tippet to leader, or fly to anything at all with multiple granny knots.

Being able to catch a better fish than mine is fine, but going on and on and on about their respective sizes is somewhat less so. And again, “HOOOOOOEEEY!” is right out.

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In my mind, virtues of a good fishin’ buddy include:

— Intelligent humor, softly delivered.

— A sharing nature when it comes to what flies are getting attention.

— Casting skill that’s beautiful to behold.

— An appreciation for the peace and purity of the experience.

— Preparedness with respect to basic gear.

— A little courteously offered gas money that I can just as courteously refuse.

— Gracious willingness to accept gear or flies I may offer, along with the decorum not to ask for more.

— Having packed not one but two ice-cold beers to go with lunch.

— After having packed two ice-cold “lunch beers,” then not being personally thirsty.

Needless to say, I aspire to possess the above virtues in hopes that I’ll get invited to more of other peoples’ secret fishin’ spots.

Good Names for Fishin’ Buddies

I’ve tried to find one with the name Bob, Chuck, Wade, Tye, Rod, Barb, Gill, or Chenille. “Flash” is a little too weird to say to a guy’s face, and I gave up on hoping to come across anybody named “Caddis.” I recommend that if you meet a fisherman whose nickname is Stoner, Snapper, Swimmer or Snag, make up a “real good spot with huge fish, just down around the second bend,” and send him thataway.

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