Fly Fishing—Tomorrow
By Doug Macnair

Like to fly fish? A lot of us do. A few of us fisher folk have even gotten hooked by the gentle sport of fly fishing. It’s great fun and good for the mind, if not for the body. Unfortunately, fly fishing,, is in trouble in ever so many places in this great nation.

Do you ever stop and wonder what happened to the great debate over “Acid Rain?” Think back. The hot issue not so long ago was whether acid rain was “really” a problem. Television, newspapers and periodicals were resplendent in coverage. Then in 1990 Congress passed the Clean Air Act and acid rain went away, at least as a news item.

Sad to say, acid rain continues today just as many other environmental problems do. It seems tornadoes twist faster, hurricanes blow harder, water floods higher, fish populations grow smaller and, all the while, our “greenhouse” gets warmer.

What does the future hold? Who knows? But suppose things continue to decline in the “wellness” of our environment: What might fly fishing be in the future if the efforts of the Coastal Conservation Association (CIA), Trout Unlimited and others fail to bring about change? Come with me for a tongue in cheek peek at fly fishing tomorrow. . . . .

- 30 -


By Doug Macnair

Always regarded as a quiet and contemplative sport, it’s hard to think of fly fishing in the future without jumping up and down with excitement. For a fun moment, come with me back to the future:
Time: The year 2015.

Place: The Green River, Utah.

Setting: An early morning in late May.

Action: Hermann Smuck quietly moved to the river’s edge. Though it was still 45 minutes until sunrise, the river glowed with the soft light caused by the Beta particle irradiation resulting from the Hanford, Washington, nuclear disaster five years ago. Some said the disaster was really the fault of the Big Quake of ‘06. That’s when California became a page in history and no longer counted in the National lections. “Damned shame” Hermann thought, “Too bad government of the people, by the people and for the people was just a slogan. Let’s hear it for the good old DOE and EPA.” Then he thought about the Black Fink, the new sub-species of man-eating trout that appeared two years ago. That’s why Hermann was here. His mission: seek, hook and destroy the Black Fink. Hermann muttered, “What a hell of a way to make a living.”

Background: The disaster had been devastating in its effects. Thousands died. The larger part of the Great American West was “off limits” due to the residual contamination. And those parts that survived now faced the onslaught of the Black Fink, a trout derivative said the experts. Whatever it was, the creature was deadly. Some 20,074 deaths had been attributed to the misadventures-adventures of the Fink. The latest rumor alleged the Fink was evolving into an amphibian. If that happened, well … Of course, this explains the reason Hermann, and others like him, was recruited into the Fly Fisher Finders Corps (FFFC), formerly know as the Federation of Fly Fishers. When the aftermath of the Hanford nuclear disaster became clear, the new government sought to counter the Black Fink using American Fly Fishers retrained for mortal combat and armed with the best technology could offer.

Yes, the government was new—perhaps this time it would work. What happened to the old one? Well, the People caught the President in yet another lie, just as they had almost every member of his cabinet. The conspiracy had almost worked. The People had almost swallowed - hook, line and sinker - the argument that Taxation without Representation, was in their best interest. Seemingly, the People had believed the President when he said “. . . only he and his wife were capable of knowing what was right for the People.” But he went one step too far when he changed his title to Emperor … His impeachment was short and swift. So ended the reign of the “Mouth.” There was, of course, the Congress … But is turned out it was also rotten to the core. Seems the fellow the People had made Director of Truth Finding (DTF), a guy named Diogenes, Jr., was unable to find a single honest member in either the House or the Senate. That was, so-to-speak, the last straw. Talk about a new broom sweeping clean, the People used high pressure water hoses and a mixture of detergent to rid themselves of the rats, lice, members of Congress and other vermin. Fresh Start, as it was called, became a national holiday traditionally celebrated in the Public Baths.

Hermann: Hermann adjusted the oxygen flow from his main tanks, then checked the fit of his rubberized armor suit. Everything had to be just right. Once in the water and engaged, little time remained for the mundane. “At least it used to be water,” he thought as he moved forward. He watched the river. The gurgling, glowing greenish black goo oozed downstream. Without the suit, Hermann would last about 15 seconds before being overwhelmed by the sickness. Death followed within but a minute. Shrugging his shoulders, Hermann checked the rigging of his fly rod. In the jargon of government, its new name was: Device, Fixer, Finder, IMZ, M4-A6. The Finder Fixer was the critical part of the standard weapons system carried by the line troops of the FFF. For all of its sleek black nine feet and very fast supple action, the FF weighed little. Tied to the end of its black weight forward fiber-optic shooting head was a short leader tipped by what appeared to be a large black hairy fly. It wasn’t a fly at all; the government’s classified documents directory called it: Device, Forward Looking Underwater Conveyor, Knight-Errant, Remote, MOD-4, MK 6. The warriors of the FFF simply called it the “Flucker;” it was the “killing” part of the weapons system. His final equipment check completed, Hermann quietly entered the water at a point near the shoals.

Background: For the good or bad, the records of close combat with the fierce Fink found even the best computer programming inadequate to the task when it came to countering the fancy Fink’s bag of foul tricks. Too many operators had disappeared without trace to believe otherwise. The final stages of battle were therefore placed in the operator’s hands. Victory could only be achieved after the Fink swallowed the Flucker exposing the Fink’s single known weakness, its stomach walls. The demands placed upon the operator were tremendous. After suckering the Fink into taking the Flucker, the operator had to successfully battle the creature until ingestion began. Only then could he detonate the Flucker. Victory depended on timing. When the tactics, techniques and timing came together, the detonation resulted in an implosion of the stomach. In simple terms, the Fink swallowed itself and disappeared in a single gulp with a burp of nuclear gas.

Fred: Not more than fifty feet from where Hermann stood, a slight swirl occurred. Intent on the river further downstream, Hermann failed to note the action. It was his first mistake. In the water, Fred the Fink watched Hermann. It was the first time Fred had been this close to a Thing. “Thing” is what the finks’ called Homo Sapiens. Finks forgot things with long titles even though they were capable of thinking little thoughts much like those who formerly were in the Congresds. That’s why Fred and his kind had come to simply called them “Things.” About the only thing Fred clearly recalled was his purpose: to hunt and kill Things. But Fred was fussy, for now he would wait. This Thing was his. With a fancy flip, Fred dove toward the bottom, rolled on his back and flexed his flexible flippers, then finned away feeling no fear from the Thing above.

Hermann: Hermann stripped off line letting it fall gently into the stripping basket fastened about his waist. Pausing for an instant, he deftly lifted the rod into a false cast. His mind wandered back to the story his Grandpa used to tell him about catching the ever-elusive giant Brook trout that lurked beneath the boulder in a tiny little creek “Those were the good days,” he thought. “Those were the days of gossamer thread leaders and the old triple-toe barefoot haul. Now you can’t even go barefooted.” On the last backcast, Fred hauled and released line to the rear, then moving into the final forward cast he made his second haul. The moment he released the line, the weight forward shooting head flew forward as if rocket propelled. The running line sang as it swished through the guides. Hermann hummed, “Oh say can I see by the dawn’s early light, the grandeur of the Flucker in flight. Suddenly, the Flucker tucked its wings and deploying the tiny parachute, settled down into the lingering shadows of night. The seek and destroy mode activated, the signal rang in Hermann’s earphones. The hunt was on. While Hermann’s visibility through the fiber optics line was limited to inches, he remained confident. In his ears he could hear the Ping-Pong, Ping-Pong, Ping-Pong from the active sonar in the Flucker’s nose. The tracking display displayed the Flucker’s flicks and flits as the fly maneuvered to find the fickle Fink. Ping-Pong, Ping-Pong-the sonar’s call droned on in Hermann’s ears.

Fred: Near the bottom, idling his tail against the river’s flow, Fred hung but a dark shadow in the morass of the mire. He had little trouble seeing everything. After all, he was born for these waters. He could see the stupid Thing silhouetted against the sky above. More importantly, he could see the fury Flucker as it flicked and flitted back and forth, forth and back, back and forth. Fred drooled. His lidless eyes grow heavy. Unknown to Hermann, his frothing fizzled finned friend Fred the fierce Fink was beginning to succumb to the lure of the fly. Time passed. Fred had been finessed. Fred finned. He finned again. He finned once too often.

Hermann: The visual array inside his helmet went wild, first a contact, then a fix. The Fink was found. Hermann yelled: “Finder Fixer.” Flicking the manual override, Hermann took control of the Flucker. He turned the fly toward the geographic coordinates displayed. Then Hermann began the begine, more properly known as the “Dance of the Fairy Flucker.” It was the deadly retrieve developed by T. T. Tchaikovsky, the first FFF warrior to achieve victory over the Fink. The “Magic of the Dance” became the combat imperative since it enjoyed a whooping 83% success rate. Slowly, the Flucker maneuvered as it flicked and flitted its way toward the Fink’s fixed fixture. Hermann intently watched the data display. He armed the Flucker, and made his second mistake. The movement behind him to his right rear and upstream went unnoticed.

Fred: Fred knew better. The elders had briefed him. He knew all about Things; for that matter, he knew about Finders, Fixers and Fluckers. Young but big - he now weighed over 293 pounds - Fred was feeling his finny fodder. Mesmerized by the twitching, tantalizing, twinkling movement of the Flucker, he was overcome with the feelings only a forage fish could ferret from memory. Fred finned. He finned again. Fred attacked. In the flick of an eye the Fink finned fast forward flashing toward the fizzing Flucker. He struck!

Hermann: The Finder-Fixer in Hermann’s hands shook from the ferocity of the strike. Hookup required no action from Hermann. The black line hissed as it sped though the guides. The FF bent double. “This is a big one,” Hermann thought, “I want him.” The line slowed. Clearly the fickle Fink, now finished flitting, was fluttering to the bottom. Hermann began a slow pumping action with the FF. Inch by inch he regained line. Inside his helmet, the sweep hand on the timer swept. “Just another 45 seconds and this ferocious fierce Fink is finished,” thought Hermann, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.”

Fade to Scene: If Hermann had only turned around—there a short 25 feet away, a second ferocious finny finned Fink weighing close to 500 pounds surfaced. It eyes flickering, the Fink flared its fangs. Yellow drool dripped from its mouth. Extending its claws and rising from the shoals on its stubby little legs, the fortunate fickle Fink prepared to attack the Thing to its front. Hermann knew nothing of the recent change in Fink battle strategy. They now worked the water in pairs—teams they called hunter-killers. The task of the second Fink was to finish the Flucker’s operator forever.

Finale: Hermann watched the sweep hand sweep. His arms ached. Fatigue slowed his thinking. “Just a little bit longer,” he muttered. . . . He awaited the computer’s count-down, his finger poised on the fire button. The metallic voice of the computer began the countdown—ten thousand, nine thousand, eight thousand, seven thousand, six thousand, five thousand, four thousand, three thousand, two thousand . . . . Hermann felt a sharp pain in his right shoulder, blood spurted. . . . Suddenly dizzy, his mind spun . . . . His finger hit the button . . . . He heard no sound . . . . He didn’t see the bubble burst and blowup as it reached the surface . . . . The small luminous green mushroom cloud drifted down river. . .

Impossible story? Perhaps. But take a look around you. We have lots of problems many experts believe are not being adequately addressed - if at all.

The Black Fink is taken from Could This be the Future?

© Copyright: Douglas G. Macnair, 1995-2004.