WE all know that flyfishing, most of the time, is a superb method of fishing. Sometimes it can also be a superbly successful method of catching fish. But have you ever considered just how many other creatures, big and small, can be caught by the long rod and artificial fly? Enough, I can attest, that should the day ever come that all our waters are polluted, dammed, acidified, or evaporated into lifelessness, flyfishing will continue. Different, perhaps, but sporting, challenging, flyfishing.
As I begin to contemplate all the things I've caught flyfishing, I have to start with the most universal, if inanimate. I, like you, usually catch hell when I'm flyfishing. That doesn't really count. In the microbial world, I have caught pneumonia once; but again, not fairly hooked, as they say, but snagged.
In the fish kingdom, there have been some very odd catches over the years, fish that make one think. Like the catfish I caught on slow, deep nymphs in the lake on the Princeton University campus, casting idlely during a picnic. Good sized catfish. Every cast. I should mention, for sake of completeness, a healthy population in that lake of what we from Boston used to call "Charles River Whitefish". Since the advent of AIDS, the run has grown, I'm sure. Then there were the winter flounder in the salt pond in Rhode Island, so thick on the bottom you could literally sink the boat using bits of clam neck. Not the active and aggressive summer flounder; that would surprise no one who
knew THAT fish, but plate-sized winter flounder that would still follow and take a small streamer drug through the mud behind a lead core shooting head. Great eating. Not the stuff of purists, but good, fun, fishing. Flyfishing.
Tropical waters have been good for some surprising fish, certainly the most odd being the pufferfish that will occasionally take while bonefishing in Christmas Island. Have you ever played an inflating balloon? Picking the fish up to unhook it has all the challenges of handling a solid mold of Jell-O.
There have been, through the years, a respectable number of, "well I'll be damned" fish, many of them previously unknown to flyfishing science, and remaining so to this day. I'd probably be even more amazed if I knew what they were. But somehow, catching odd and unusual fish is still sort of legitimate. FlyFISHing, after all.
But how about flyCRABBING? My first experience with an Atlantic Blue crab was in mid-air as it
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