October 16, 2003
by Chris Feeney
Iíve always said that sports teach us lifeís lessons. Well at least thatís the excuse Iíve used to justify so much time spent hunting, fishing, shooting hoops or whatever other sporting pursuit of the day has me away from my work duties. Games teach us how to win graciously and how to deal with defeat. We can learn how to handle adversity and how to overcome setbacks through our sporting pursuits. Well my education continued this weekend, as I now understand the true meaning of frustration.
One might think that Iím referring to the fact that I loaded my wife and three kids into a crowded minivan along with my brother- and sister-in-law and drove more than five hours for a fishing trip that netted me just one measly fish. Nope - thatís nothing. What Iím talking about are those !@#$ trout that were banging into my feet in a feeding frenzy yet would not ever take the attractive looking fly floating on the end of my line.
If youíve ever pursued rainbow trout, or trout of any other flavor for that matter, you know they can be rather finicky. Well after I hooked and landed the lone fish of the day just a few minutes after arriving on the water, I was ready to settle in for an all-day fishing extravaganza. Unfortunately eight hours later the memory of that one bright spot of the day had long disappeared and been replaced by frustration.
Frustration is Ė not being able to catch a fish in the river while dozens of the trout are swimming in between your feet. It became so troubling that I gave up trying to cast my fly out and watch it float down stream. I tried to hold the line in one hand and dangle it in front of the fish at my feet. If they had noses they would have turned them up at my offering. They couldnít have been less interested. I changed sizes, colors and styles a few dozen times to no avail. I was mad enough that I was ready to leave. But as I shuffled my feet to start walking out, the mess that came up from the gravel on the bottom of the stream sent these fish into a feeding frenzy. It was like I had dropped some raw hamburger into a pool of piranha.
Iím not sure if the light bulb over my head was visible to the rest of the fishermen around me, but this brilliant strategist figured if they werenít biting out there, I could surely trick one into grabbing my fly at my feet in the clouded mess. Sure this isnít the most sporting fishing pursuit Iíve ever given in to, but desperation breeds strange methods. But even after I did the twist with my feet in the gravel for 10 minutes I could not trick even one of the three or four dozen fish going crazy at my heels to bite on my fly. I wasnít interested in catching the fish for my supper. Otherwise I could have grabbed a few by hand. I even had a couple get stuck under my feet as I lifted and dropped my boots to stir up the feeding area. But even in this crazy scene, where the fish obviously were feeding with rabid abandon (as was obvious by the constant crashes they made into my legs) not one of them would bite on my fly dangling just inches below my hand in the middle of all the ruckus. Now thatís frustration. It had me looking forward to the long drive home.