Monday, July 18, 2011

Irony Appreciation Day.

I have no childhood memories of catching fish. I ransack my brain, trying to find something in one of  its cupboards, mousing for some leftover morsel. But no. Not even a crumb of a crappie, and I am hungry. Oh, I have no shortage of childhood fishing memories, but they are made of choppy water, a yellow canoe, old tires and snapping turtles. The only two catches of my childhood: a tire and a turtle. I remember reeling in, excited, this was going to be a huge fish, only to find a snapper. And I can still see my dad cutting the line before I got the silly notion in my head out, to ask if we could take it home and keep it as a pet.

I appreciate irony. I appreciate the irony that nowadays, I catch fish. And I'm always thankful to do so -- to just avoid tires and turtles. I guess maybe I was getting cocky. Catching too many fish. Too many un-skunked days. Must have been something like that.

I've learned that I should never doubt Jay -- not his advice, direction, or expectations of me. As we grabbed our rods from the back of the truck, he asked "now, what's been your best day carping?"

"Two I think," I said, spitting out a cherry pit.

"Huh. Well, this is going to be your best day yet."

He had a feeling, he said.

A feeling.

"We'll see, eh?" I said, rubbing my thumb up and down, massaging the cork like a jockey prepping a racehorse for the track -- prepping myself for the flats. Getting the muscles ready. And in the end Jay was right, I had my best day yet, catching eight, and this should be a post about carp fishing. But it's not going to be. Not completely. Mostly, it's going to be about irony.

Tails. Backs out of water. Mud balls. Oh yes, we caught carp. The third one I landed was different though, distinct, "He's missing part of his tail!" I yelled to Jay, what I'm sure he could already see. Why do we still, after toddler-hood feel the need to state the obvious? It still looked a little red, the carp's tail. Healed, but sore. And I wondered, what could have done this. Oh sure, there's aggression during spawning. Bumps, bruises and missing scales. But nothing like this. Half the tail...what in the world could have done this? Jay took a photo and started stalking further down the bank. I followed, and didn't think about that tail again....
.....at least for a little while.

It was getting late now, and we'd been fishing for eight hours straight. "One last cast over in that corner, ok?" Jay asked, knowing my answer would be, "ok!," and knowing full well that with us, there was no way it would be just one more.  

Tailing carp. Cast......cast....we were both next to nice ones. I missed, but kept stripping in. Then thwuump. Everything stopped hard. "Got him?" Jay asked, concentrating on his last cast. "Nah, a snag," and I began pulling in line, heavy with dead weight.

But then -- then I saw a head, and heard Jay yelling "Erin, that's a snapper!!!"

I started laughing in disbelief, while at the same time being utterly petrified. Jay yelled again, "Crap! I've got a carp on!" I think it might be the only time in his life he has ever been disappointed at this.   "You've got to hold that snapper!" Oh please, just cut the line....cut the line! But then I thought -- no, no I need to, for irony's sake. So I bucked up, faced fate, and embraced the irony.


And then he walked away like a Tonka Truck -- back to play in the sandbox...


It's a rite of passage for carp fishermen, Jay tells me. You have to fish for carp and snappers in the same way, and you have to be good to catch either. Not many fly fishermen have caught snappers who've actually eaten the fly, he says. A legit catch. I guess snapping turtles like backstabbers too.


Perhaps yes, this was rite of passage. Perhaps. But it just felt like irony to me -- the fates reminding me not to get too cocky, not too used to fishing and actually catching fish. They can always curse me back to tires and turtles.

"You know," said Jay later that evening, "that one you caught with the chunk out of its tail? I was thinking...." We looked at each other and grinned. It all makes sense now. 

50 comments:

  1. Goodness that's a terrifying creature-- I hope you gave a rebel yell after you caught it:

    http://youtu.be/Gn8EQ0azXpQ

    X-)

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  2. Justin and I saw turtles today. I love turtles, but not enough to continue reeling one in...or would I?

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  3. You...are something else. Beautiful story...a great friend you have in Jay...the smile on that gorgeous turtle....

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  4. They say that sight casting to snappers is the ultimate in turtle fishing, but I wouldn't know. My lifetime carp total still stands at 1, but I plan on returning to my beloved Lake Michigan flats before it's all done. Your posts are so creative Erin. Keep it coming.

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  5. One of my few childhood fishing memories is also catching a snapper, but mine came from a catfish pond. Great story and great picture

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  6. Wow, holy snapper, Batman...... It's pay-back time.......Nice catch!

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  7. Awesome post! I can definitely say that I haven't caught that species!

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  8. Not sure what to say...

    All I know is that this was a really fun post to read :-)

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  9. Great post. Love it! One of my first smiles today...and it's 1045pm!

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  10. The adventures of Erin and Jay ... All fun with a little turtle drama :-)

    Jim
    Two Guys ~ Wet Waders & Flies

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  11. Greast story Erin and that's one stellar day of carping in my book!! While I've come to appreciate carp and no longer think them ugly I'm not sure I can warm up to the looks of those snappers...wow that's an ugly face!
    Jeff

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  12. First off, congrats on your best day ever carp fishing. You know I have a soft spot for stuff like that. Secondly...I am deeply jealous of the snapper. I woild trade one day on my best super secret carp flat for one day of guided turtle fishing...in a second.

    I thought a bigmouth buffalo on the fly was cool...nice work!

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  13. Brian J. -- Goodness, that's a terrifying man...awesome. :)

    Cofisher - Oh, I think you would!

    Herringbone - A great friend indeed...the best. And yes, doesn't that snapper have a great smile?

    Fontinalis Rising - Thanks! And I'll try to keep 'em coming! Glad to hear you'll be going back to your flats. Watch out for turtles.

    Clif - Thanks! Fun memories, eh? I guess in hindsight better than my sister's thousands of blue gill!

    Doug - Holy Snapper Batman. hehe! That elicited a hearty laugh on my end of the computer. Thanks!

    River Damsel - Thanks for the comment, and yeah, I'm not sure it's on too many people's 'wish list.' ;)

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  14. Sanders - Thanks! I'm very glad it was a fun read....was fun to write!

    Swamp Thing - Wow, thanks! And your comment brought by far the biggest smile to mine...

    Jim - "The Adventures of Erin & Jay"...should be a picture book or something. :) It definitely was dramatic, that's for sure...and never a dull moment!

    John - Ok. Here's the deal. Jay and I go to Oregon, we'll go carping. You come to Colorado, we'll all go turtle 'fishing.' :-)

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  15. High Plains - Thanks, Jeff! Glad the carp are good in your book...but the snappers, they definitely are hard ones to love. Got to be impressed with them though. Us modern's dinosaurs!

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  16. Awesome grip n' grin! Send that to the Chum for "Slab of the Month". I'd vote for ya.

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  17. Troutrageous - Thanks! I'll have to look into that...I'm not familiar, but there are too many dang things going on! Gives me confidence knowing I have your vote though!

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  18. Yesterday you were hanging laundry and today I see the title IRONy Appreciation Day... you know what I was thinking this was about. Not a turtle!
    bhive

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  19. sweet baby j. i had all of these witty comments about unleashing a rebel yell and submitting it to Moldy Chum for "slab of the month", but it looks like t-rage and brian j. beat me to it.

    WOW.

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  20. Childhood memories are very rarely about the fish you caught but about the fun you had...........

    As nicely as put as ever Erin.

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  21. I think Ivan is on to something - slab on the month!

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  22. Very nice post! Carp is one of the few species I have never targeted with a fly rod and the same goes for turtles. That thing is massive!!

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  23. Ivan - Ok....so two comments about it, I'll have to submit for Slab of the Month. ;) Thanks!

    Tricobugman - uh...well, you see, we let him take it home as a souvenir!

    Tom - So very true...and many thanks!

    Kyle - Slab of the month it is! Thanks for the third vote of confidence!

    George - Both are fun...give em a go. Thanks for commenting!

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  24. Erin! Those things are dangerous. They taste good though, but WHO TOOK THE HOOK OUT? Never mind, you don't have to answer that.
    Loved the story as usual. Great pics, but it looks like you are HOLDING it's tail!

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  25. Hart - hehe...oh, I know they are dangerous....talk to your son about that. ;) And yes, I WAS holding its tail! Exciting! More dangerous though was where Jay was, in FRONT of the beast. "Erin, you better NOT let go of that thing." ;)

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  26. Erin,
    Great post. I've never caught a Snapping Turtle on the fly... but I catch them while fly fishing all the time. Maybe I'll finally get around to doing a post about turtles and show you how to do a real "grip & grin" with a snapper.

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  27. Ha! Good thing you were rigged up for carp. I'm thinking that with a light trout outfit that turtle could come ashore and have you down to the arbor knot in twenty minutes.

    Slab of the Month, for sure.

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  28. Jay - I'll be looking forward to it....make sure you do the 'rebel yell' per Brian J.!

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  29. Quill - Right?! Yes, lucky indeed and I'm still puzzled at how the tippet didn't break, even if it was 2X.

    Oh, and Slab of the Month pic is now submitted!

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  30. Hey guys, thanks all for the Moldy Chum advice!
    http://www.moldychum.com/home-old/2011/7/20/july-sotm-entry-snapping-turtle.html

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  31. Great pictures! And of course, great read as well.

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  32. Rob - Thanks, and glad you enjoyed it!

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  33. Nice post! How big was the snapper! Creepie the way they walk, did it jump at ya?

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  34. I've never seen me a snapping turtle and from the likes of your photos I don't mind if I never do. Have you ever, just out of curiosity, tested their snapping capabilities? Just wondering what they're capable of, aside from chewing off a piece of carp tail. I imagine they could remove a toe or a finger.

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  35. Kevin - Oh man, poundage wise? No idea. He was big, and I had a hard time holding on to his tail...but I HAD to....Jay was right in front of him! Their walk is certainly creepy. Such clearance! Like a Humvee! And yeah, he jumped!

    Kirk - I've never tested, and don't plan on investigating it any further....although have been told they could take off an appendage without any trouble at all!

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  36. I know a few "noodlers" that have lost fingers to snappers. You still have 10 right? What an experience that must have been! I didn't even know they existed up here.

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  37. backcountryfishnerd - I do still have all 10...at least for the time being. ;) And apparently, they are actually in higher elevation streams too. I had no idea!

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  38. Alright, don't start filling my head with this nonsense. The last thing I want is for any part of me to be lunch.

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  39. Watch your fingers and toes in those beautiful mountain streams!

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  40. Although just think of it...wouldn't a snapper encounter make for a great "lesson" post on your blog?

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  41. No. No it wouldn't. Because then, how would I be able to type it? I only type with one finger as it is. Not to mention, that same finger is used to guide casts.

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  42. Well...perhaps if that finger were a right or left hand picky, say...

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  43. Erin, Thats a face only his mother could love??

    I expect thats the culprit of the missing carps tail? No?

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  45. Kev - And you were worried about me going into the woods with a strange man? ;)

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  46. Erin,
    McTage told me seek you out if I wanted to read from a real wordsmith. He was very correct. Wonderful site you have.
    Best, Gregg

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  47. Gregg - Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words! I'm very glad you enjoyed my writing here, and hope you stop back by often...

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