Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm going to break with man-code for a moment, and suggest that most men will never mature mentally or emotionally past the age of eighteen. Our bodies continue to grow, often in ways we do not like, but our minds are stunted. Bear with me for a moment.

My 60 year-old father has difficulty looking women in the face. The problem is that he's a dedicated boob-guy. The age or attractiveness of the woman is of little significance, only the boobs. As far as my dad is concerned, no two boobs are quite the same. Each and every boob demands our attention, respect and admiration. Boobs are mysterious. Boobs are wonderous. Some boobs are magnificent, while still others demand offerings of fruit and incense. It's not so much that he's staring at your chest ladies, he's paying homage to the female form. He's acting on deep seated, primal instinct.

I must admit that I do not understand my father's obsession. Maybe its because I've watched my wife breastfeed our children. Ouch. Maybe its because I'm too disconnected from my own nipples to find other nipples fascinating. Perhaps it's because I'm a leg man. Let's face it, nice legs are the proverbial rainbow at the end of which one might find a pot of gold. Dear God help me.

My point is this. At 60 and 35 respectively, and regardless of our disparate perversions, my father and I are much the same in that we both behave like adolescents. For both of us, the processes involved in maturation ended somewhere around our senior years in high school.

What has this to do with anything? More to the point, what has this to do with the weather, as this entry is entitled? Only this.

I am a 35 year-old man. I am a husband, a father, and a teacher. As a teacher I spend the better part of every winter evening praying for a snow day come dawn. Snow days are free days, compensated time away from the classroom. It doesn't matter if I have two feet of snow to shovel. It doesn't matter if I'm left home alone to care for the triplets. I'm not at work. I've a snow day, a glorious snow day.

Herein lies the connection to my father's boob fetish. Like boobs, the weather can force men to behave like children. I'm a 35 year-old man sitting on the couch with my pajamas turned inside-out, riveted to a perfectly coiffed weatherman as he speaks of lake effect snow and a "difficult commute in the morning." Snow day baby, snow day.

So it is with fishing. Come the last week of March, I am suddenly and acutely aware of the impact of the weather on my environment. Rain, not unlike the deluge we received this morning, will likely send the main river over its banks. A heavy storm will bring fish into the tributaries. Too heavy a storm, however, will make unfishable all but the smallest ditch. The devil is in the details or in this case just a few cubic feet per second. I sit on the couch, my waders turned inside out, waiting and hoping for fair weather come the opener.

- Mike

Friday, March 27, 2009

Getting the Skunk Out

Almost there. Five days. Just five days. I can make it. I can make it.

Winter is especially brutal when you're a fair-weather fly chucker. The season is closed. The rivers are frozen over. Steelhead? Sure, if you want to make a four hour drive, one way, in lousy weather for a chance to wet a line in any one of a dozen declining Great Lakes tributaries. But hey, you can always tie flies.

Eventually though, your boxes are full, your friends' boxes are full, and flies are spilling onto the floor where they're sure to be eaten by pets and children alike. No, flytying is to flyfishing what masturbation is to the menage a trois. It wets your appetite, satisfies you temporarily, maybe even helps you sleep, but there's really no pay-off. No memories are made.

The only remedy is to get the skunk out. You know what I mean. It's been four or five months since you've made a cast. You pull the waders out of the closet, fondle each of your rods adoringly (in such a way as to raise the ire of your wife), choose one ... or two ... or three, make a pot of coffee, curse your buddy's lateness and finally hit the road at 4:30 am. It's an annual ritual; a day off for fathers and a rite of passage for sons. It's opening day, and you're going to get the skunk out. You're going to catch that first fish of the year.

Of course, some opening days are better than others. Was it April 1st of 2004 or 2005? I don't recall. Adam would remember. The man remembers every fish he or I have ever caught, the date and time of the catch, the water temperature, ambient air temperature, and position of the sun relative to Ursula Major. Total freakin' recall. It's uncanny, but I digress.

It's April 1st, 2005. The weeks leading up to opening day have been mild, the water in the main river and its tributaries is relatively low and clear. Water temperatures are in the mid forties at first light, and warm throughout the day. Conditions are perfect, and we slay 'em. We bang 'em on streamers and eggs. We bang 'em on beadheads and softhackles. I'm lucky enough to take a twenty-inch bow below the falls, and I lose an even bigger brown. Memories were made.

Then there's opening day 2007 (or was it 06? I'll have to ask Adam). Adam, Ben and I are fishing the usual stretch of early-season water. The fishing is lousy, but the company is good. But wait, what's that? An orchestra? Barbershop quartet? No, it's a ... it's a banjo. A pair of banjos maybe? Dueling banjos? It's the theme from Deliverance accompanying Billy Baitdunker as he scrambles down the hill, and saunters up in between the three of us. Imagine the scene. Three flyfishers standing within twenty or thirty feet of each other, fishing a pool maybe fifty feet in length, and a spin fisherman walks right up into the middle of us (without so much as a word) casts his line and sits his exposed ass-crack on a nearby log. And he enters the scene with his own theme music. Grand.

Normally, the three of us would simply have shrugged, hiked up the hill, and found a "Billy Free Zone" in which to fish. But this was opening day. We were just beginning to satisfy a five month jones for running water. Billy (should I call him William so I don't seem like one of those elitist fly guys?) picked the wrong day not to exercise a little etiquette. No, there wasn't a fight. No one found the bloated body of Billy Baitdunker bobbing buoyantly in the river. There were, however, some rather unpleasant words exchanged. Ben (maniac, tofu-smelling vegan that he is) represented our group in the debate. Inside of ten minutes William looked like a dog that just had its nose rubbed in excrement. Priceless. Memories were made.

Opening day last year? Well, it was pretty bad. As bad as it was, however, it was better than the day before. And that's the charm of opening day. Opening day is hope. It's chance. It's the opportunity to get the skunk out. It's the reason we fish, regardless of the result.

- Mike

Thursday, March 26, 2009


If you're reading this then you've probably mistyped a URL or otherwise lost your way in cyberspace. If you meant to arrive here at The Rusty Spinner, however, then you are most welcome. Thanks for coming. Care for a beer?

Before we begin (is the "we" here presumptuous given that no one yet knows this blog exists?), I've a couple of caveats. First, I'm technologically challenged. I'm one of those guys who never figured out how to set the time on his VCR. I've watched that sucker blink "12:00" for about eight years. Second, I type like I deal with heavy traffic. Poorly. I curse at my enormous fingers and tiny keyboard like they just cut me off a quarter mile before the exit. Third, I am the father of two-year old triplets. If you're wondering how I'm not drunk all the time, then stop wondering. I am drunk all the time. Finally, I am a dedicated fly-flinger. There is really nothing I would rather do than throw a long line to a large, rising trout.

What does all of this have to do with anything? Well, today is March 26th. The opening day of fishing season is April 1st. As such, I may not be writing all that frequently. Who knows though? I may just be writing everyday, if the river gods smile on me that is.

So again, thanks for coming. Let's see where this thing takes us.

- Mike