After Ted Williams watched three balls go by without offering the slightest evidence of a swing, the young catcher behind the plate turned and complained to the umpire. “You’re squeezing us, man.”
“Listen, bud,” the umpire responded, “when your pitcher throws a strike, Mr. Williams will let you know.”
That’s what I thought about as I clipped off Clarence Roberts’ Drake and replaced it with Ernie Borchers’. The night before I had used an emerger pattern and caught every fish I put it over. Tonight was different. Tonight the trout seemed to eat all the flies on the river except for mine, and this was the the tenth time I had made a change. Dave was fishing downstream and his story was the same. When another ring expanded just upstream, I turned and complained to the fish. You’re squeezing us, man. Then I cast the Borchers and watched it drift toward its target.
“He took the Borchers! He took the Borchers!”
“Looks like a big fish,” Dave said as the line sped off my reel.
“It’s either big or foul hooked or both.” I said.
After a couple long runs I realized that I’d hooked the fish in its side, so I tightened up to help the line break, but the trout swam straight toward Dave and he tried to land it. The fish rolled just when Dave made his move and the line snapped.
The next night I fished alone on the same stretch of river. An enormous fish gorged during a heavy spinner fall, and I ignored several rising fish while I chased after the monster. Like a purposeful worker on a production line, I cast my fruitless fly, let it drift over the fish, clipped it off, replaced it with another and did it again.
Cast, drift, clip, tie. Cast, drift, clip, tie. Cast . . .
When I finally offered an extended body pattern that was smaller than the others I had tried, the big fish rose toward the surface and gently pushed my fraudulent fly to the side. You’re squeezing me, man. In a fit of frustration I cast the fly toward another fish that was rising near the bank. The fish took.
With the cloak of darkness descending, I hoped for a short scuffle so I could get back after the big fish, but, alas, the fight lasted longer than the light. With the fish finally corralled in my net and resting in the water, I removed the fly and reached for my camera. Then I noticed an odd growth on the fish’s side. Wait a minute, that’s a fly. Not just any fly, that’s a Borchers’ Drake. Not just any Borchers’ Drake, that’s mine.
“Listen, bud,” the fish said to me. “I know you think we’re being unreasonable out here, but when you throw a strike, I will let you know.”