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What's Your Favorite Fishing Sideshow? Best Story Wins a Book

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March 26, 2013

What's Your Favorite Fishing Sideshow? Best Story Wins a Book

By Kirk Deeter

Aloha from the Garden Island of Kaua'i in the Hawaiian Islands. I'm on a much-anticipated family vacation, where my wife, Sarah, and son, Paul, and I are enjoying some spectacular scuba diving (along with my brother, Drew, who took this photograph of a sea turtle we encountered Saturday). When I'm not fishing, diving is my favorite pastime. I enjoy watching fish when I'm not actually casting at them, sometimes for reasons explained in one of last week's Fly Talk posts. I'll admit, however, that I much prefer the clear, warm tropical waters over the icy swirling currents of trout rivers.

Last night, I took my rod to cast off a point of lava rocks. I was casting a Clouser minnow at nothing in particular, and truth be told, I didn't catch anything. But I did see another giant green turtle swim up near the shoreline, poke its head above the surface to check me out for several minutes, then vanish under the foam.

It got me thinking that the real attractions of fly fishing are often the things an angler sees that don't have any business or interest in casting to in the first place. If you aren't looking around, after all, you aren't really fishing, at least not in my mind.

Among my favorite experiences have been watching blue whales spout as I was fishing for mako sharks with Conway Bowman off the coast of San Diego. It was like watching living 737s bend and roll. It's a unique—sometimes shocking—experience to encounter a brown bear on a river in Alaska. I like watching eagles and ospreys work. River otters are always interesting: they seem to be laughing at me when I fish with that silly stick and string. I've had bull sharks bump into the side of my kayak as I was fishing in the Everglades. And a bull moose once stared down Tim Romano, Joe Cermele and I as we were fishing the Colorado River in Gore Canyon. Truth be told, the moose encounter was probably the most unsettling of them all.

But I wouldn't trade any of that for the world.

I'm wondering what your favorite "sideshow" experience on the water. For the best story in the comment thread below, I will arrange to get an autographed copy of "What a Trout Sees" from author Geoff Mueller and our own Mr. Romano.

Comments (19)

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from MICHMAN wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

One memory that I fondly recall is from my high school years. I was fishing with my father and brother on a small southern Michigan lake. We were catching hungry panfish and all three of us were facing the shoreline reeling in fish after fish. Suddenly we heard a loud "swishing" noise like a whale blowing water through the tiny hole on top of his head. When we turned around there was a giant hot air balloon thirty feet off the water highlighed by the shining sun that was making its nightly descent. We waved at the pilot and enjoyed his peaceful intrusion as he quietly flew over our heads. Great memory!

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from fisherking1999 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

While fishing out of a kayak on a lake in NC, I heard a loud SNAP that echoed throughout the area. I looked to shore, and a dead tree, about 100 feet long was falling, and landed about 50 feet from me with an even louder crash and huge splash. I got a little wet, but not soaked. That always reminds me of the saying "if a tree falls in the woods (or lake) does it make a sound?"

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from bowman77 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I remember one quiet morning in late June when I was young. I was stalking the banks of a secluded farm pond, practicing my fly casting with my newly acquired and first fly rod. I was casting an old popper I found in the barn that my grandpa had probably used many years ago on one of his bamboo rods. It was one of those mornings that everything was just right. Not in terms of catching fish; but I just knew; this is where I needed to be. The calm, cool morning air was kind and welcomed. A shallow layer of mist danced on the pond, just before the sun made its way over the trees that surrounded the cove. The rays pressed there way through the leaves and onto the misted, still waters. I decided to break from fishing, as I sat down on my old tackle box and just listened to the silence and watched. Within a couple minutes, a doe and her fawn emerged from the wooded cove, and came to the pond edge, no more than 40 yards from me for a morning drink. As the mother quietly drank from the water’s edge, her fawn took to the narrow, shallow water and proceeded to prance and play with out care. The fawn’s splashing, echoed around the sheltered cove, as I just sat and watched in silence. It was the definition of innocence. No care, no worries, just enjoying life in that moment. I watched for several minutes, but could have watched for an eternity. After the doe and fawn dissolved back into the dark of the trees, I made a few more cast and called it a morning. I didn't care about catching anymore fish that morning. I got to experience all that I needed. The same reason most of who hunt and fish get up early and do what we do. It’s not the catch or the kill at the end of the day that draws us to the water or our stand. It’s the experience as a whole that separates us from everyday life. A feeling that most often has to be felt; and that can rarely be appropriately described.

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from Jake_PA wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Every day out in the woods or on the water brings a new experience but one recently has stuck with me. I was fishing Raystown Lake and was slowly working my way back to the dock when I saw a Bald Eagle flying over the water and landing on a dead tree. It was just a picture perfect moment that photographers around the world strive for. I just stopped fishing and watched for awhile. I was lucky enough to see the beautiful bird up close and in the wild.

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from vasportsman wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I would have to say the most frequent and interesting sideshows during my fishing and duck hunting excursions are kingfishers. Very much like you describe the otters, you get the feeling like they are laughing at you as they fly by cackling. Best memory of them is when I was in high school and wading a trout stream near my home after school, had a pair of kingfishers fly up and perch just across the river and watch me. Interesting, but no big deal, I went on about my wade, hoping seeing them was good luck. I caught a few stocked rainbows, kept wading, and discovered that the pair was still following me. I took a break, sat on the bank and watched them for awhile, then continued, and they kept right up with me down the river. It was nothing amazing or glorious, but just kind of neat, a small thing that you just smile at later on. And as I took my leave of them after a few hours it was kind of sad.

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from Michael Jager wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

As a child no matter where in world we were living at the time we would vacation as a family in South Carolina. Most of these vacations were spent on Daufuskie Island which is only accesible by boat. One summer when I was about 12 years old, I was fishing in one of the many fresh water ponds on the island when I hooked about a 2LB bass only a few feet from shore. As soon as that fish hit my lure a 7ft alligator hit the water and started motoring right for me and my fish. I struggled to unhook the fish knowing that until I did the alligator was going to keep coming. Just as the gator was closing in on me (about 4-5 ft away) I unhooked the fish and tossed it into the water. The gator turned instantly and dove in after the bass. This was the closest I ever got to one, but in all the years we spent on Daufuskie I always enjoyed sharing the water with those gators as well as all the other wonderful wildlife the island has to offer.

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from bscrandall wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Last summer my family went to Myrtle Beach,SC. My dad and I went fishing on a pier. Neither of us had ever fished the ocean. We caught 12 fish, but the most interesting thing was the multiple sharks and sea turtles. When the fish weren't biting, I'd just sit back and watch them.

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from peppeli wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow was when I was about 10, fishing on a home water in Minnesota. Although this wasn't on a trout stream, where I have had many sideshows, it is a memorable one.

We were on Lake Lizzie, a Pelican chain lake if you are familiar with the area, the water was very clear, the lake dead calm, and the sun bright. Thus the fishing sucked but the show that the local loons gave us were amazing. The acted more like dolphins, diving under the boat, circling around us calling, skiing on the water by flapping their wings just enough to really move but not take off. It was crazy to see them knowingly interact with us and really made the day although we ended up skunked.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend a generous amount of time on some of the most amazing streams and rivers that flow over this great nation. During my time spent fishing the beautiful western states, God's country, I've had the pleasure of experiencing many spectacular moments that didn't involve a fish. I can remember always thinking or saying out loud, this is why I am out here.
It's been difficult to corner a specific event that I would consider my favorite but at the same time, it has been delightful playing back all the great memories. If I really had to choose, I would say my favorite experience took place while floating the Madison river with a few great friends. There were two boats of us and I was manning the oars of the lead boat. I had begun to ferry across to river left and as I made it to the middle of the river an enormous cinnamon phase black bear emerged from the brush on our right. The bear was 60 yard down stream and looking right in your direction. I held in the center of the river as we floated closer. When we passed him or her, we were so close I could see the color difference in its fur. That bear didnt take his eyes off of us the entire time. It was the first color phase black bear i've seen and an extremely close encounter. Very cool and very unsettling the way it just stared as we floated by.

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from maddy wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

every year my family and i take a trip up north to nesowdenehunk which is fly fishing only. my dad and i went out in our little john boat. we had caught two or three, i cant remember, really nice brookies, so we tied them to a string and tied em' to the boat and put them in the water so they would stay fresh. we continued fishing and i heard a loud "bump" on the bottom of the boat. i asked my dad what it was and he said that he just moved. but when it was time to head in, i brought the fish back into the boat and to my surprise, there were only two fish heads left! we still don't know what got em'.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

I've encountered all kinds of natural wonders while fishing. A bear in my tent, chased by a moose, birds of prey grabbing my fish, bull sharks, whales etc... The one that stuck with me the most was when I was a teenager. I was helping out as a mate on a bottom fishing charter. There were about 40 folks fishing, most of them tourists. While I'm fixing tangled lines I hear their cameras clicking (back in the old days). I look over the rail and there is a pod of killer whales bumping the boat. The crowd is loving it..they think they are dealing with Shamu...and they might take a ride on his back.
Anyway...the Captain screams for me to get them off the rail. They're arguing and I'm in a shouting match with them to stand back (they are so close, we can't run the risk of even starting the engines. The Captain comes out of his cabin and starts threatening people and they finally go inside.
When we get back, he explains that the Killer Whales thought they were seals and could have jumped up and snatched them over the rail.The tourists were still mad, they were thinking "Disney" and such a thing could never happen. Years later I'm watching a National Geographic show and there are Killer Whales playing off the rocky shore among. Some seals are safely watching them from the rocks...or so they think. Damned if they weren't bobbing like camera snapping tourists ...when all of a sudden the Killer Whales damn near beach themselves on the rocks, rolling back into the sea, with a couple of slow witted trusting seals from the edge.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow is whatever happens that day. I love just soaking up sun listening to the water, the wind, birds, and everything else.
I have had a couple close encounters with animals. Once I was fishing a small stream with thick overgrown banks causing me to constantly walk away from the stream to get further up it. As I'm walking back to it I climb the trunk of a tree that had cracked a few feet up to scope the stretch of stream. As I'm looking I hear a noise behind me and there is a 150-200lb ish black bear walking right towards me. I stood still on the trunk and just after it passed me it took a smell, looked right at me and took off about 20 yards then turned to me again sniffing before it ran off for good. It was really cool and I was shocked at how frightened of me it was(probably because I was a few feet up in the air making me look really big).
Another time I was fishing early spring and heard splashing around a bend. not knowing what it was I looked causiously. It was a doe with her fawn still in it's spots playing in the water. Must have been the first trip to the stream for the little guy the way it was jumping and playing in the water.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow is whatever happens that day. I love just soaking up sun listening to the water, the wind, birds, and everything else.
I have had a couple close encounters with animals. Once I was fishing a small stream with thick overgrown banks causing me to constantly walk away from the stream to get further up it. As I'm walking back to it I climb the trunk of a tree that had cracked a few feet up to scope the stretch of stream. As I'm looking I hear a noise behind me and there is a 150-200lb ish black bear walking right towards me. I stood still on the trunk and just after it passed me it took a smell, looked right at me and took off about 20 yards then turned to me again sniffing before it ran off for good. It was really cool and I was shocked at how frightened of me it was(probably because I was a few feet up in the air making me look really big).
Another time I was fishing early spring and heard splashing around a bend. not knowing what it was I looked causiously. It was a doe with her fawn still in it's spots playing in the water. Must have been the first trip to the stream for the little guy the way it was jumping and playing in the water.

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from coachsjike wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

watching both of my sons catch their first sunny at 4yrs old and 5 yrs old respectfully. awesome to watch the smile on their faces and become addicted to something other than video games.

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

Best fishing sideshow? Without a doubt, it's my favorite memory of my grandpa. He taught me how to tie a cinch knot and how to fillet a fish, both skills that I have since passed on to my son, but my favorite memory goes as follows: I'm from Indiana, but I spent a couple summers out in California, where my grandparants lived and we would always make time for a special camping & fishing trip. We would spend a week camping & fishing up on the Cali/Oregon border on Lake Copco. Our sole purpose was to fish...wake up, fish, come back for breakfast, fish, eat lunch, fish, dinner, fish. As a 10 yr. old, I was in Heaven! The locals used to say the fish would bite on anything, which I can attest to...I pulled in a 15" lake perch on a piece of chewed up bubblegum! One drizzly afternoon, my grandpa & I were out fishing for whiting on one of the many tributaries that fed the lake. Tall pine trees lined both side of the tributary. Well, there we were, in a small john boat drifting down the river and my grandpa gets a bite. He fought the fish for a minute before bringing it out of the water. It wasn't a spectacular fish, but what happened next was incredible. Out of nowhere, a bald eagle swooped down and snatched the fish right off the hook! Yeah...a bald eagle stole my grandpa's fish! All that was left was a small piece of the fish on the hook. We both sat there in complete silence as we watched the bird fly back to it's nest...it must have been watching us the whole time. That fishing trip was loaded with memories, including my first midnight cat-fishing expedition & my first trout, but the fish-stealing eagle has got to be, hands down, my best fishing memory. My grandpa has long since passed away, but every summer, I seem to find a way to tell that story to my son Jake and remind him that's it's not always about the fish that you catch, but the people you catch them with.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

It was perfect weather for trout fishing on the Snake River in Idaho. The time was June of 1969 and my brother's soon-to-be in-laws had secured permission from a friend to allow me to drive over his farm to a point that overlooked the Snake River, a short distance below Lower Mesa Falls. I carried my gear through the alders and other such down the slope to the river. I changed to my waders and left my shoes on a narrow trail to mark the point where I needed to start the climb back to the top. It was a steady fish-and-walk outing. About two hours in and I was a half mile from where I started and decided to climb out and head on down stream. Upon gaining the trail along the bank, I was faced with a flattened area along the trail and lots of coarse brown hair. A closer look revealed a very fresh bear track over the top of my footprint. The grizly bear had been laying there, watching me fish. One errant backcast and I would have "snagged" the biggest and likely my last catch ever. I do not know the Idaho state for the 200 yard dash, up-hill, and in waders, but I believe that record is mine. And, no, I didn't go back for my shoes.

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from bankwalker wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite side show to fishing generally is the people around you. I fish mostly small forest preserve ponds that function to keep a small patch of green in the city. That being said there is always something else going on in the preserve from picnics, to dogs playing, to cyclists darting around and more. Watching small children run in circles while their moms try to control them or their dads try to keep them interested in fishing or the family or whatever sport happens to be happening is truly entertaining. Of course it reminds me of how my brother and I would torture our father while he tried to do the same all while not losing an expensive piece of gear to the water. Having a sense of nature and a large green area in a city is the greatest sideshow to fishing.

But for a funnier note I have to talk about Bob the Turtle. My father and I do regular fishing trips and for a little while we joined my uncles trip up to the Arrow head region of Minnesota. Their we fish for a week before heading home. On what maybe the greatest bass fishing day of my life, we pulled on to a small point in a small bay which was a link between two lakes. Fish downed trees listening to loons howl on the main lake and chatting about the next spot we noticed a large snapping turtle in the area. First this turtle would seem to move at random. then we noticed he was following our bobbers. This was not too distressing until he followed one back to the boat. there he proceeded to swim around the boat following every line to its end. Bob did this several times until we realized he was searching for our bait bucket and our stringer of fish for an easy meal. Bob final got so hunger that he tried to get into the back of the boat to see what we had but fortunately could make it over the gunwale. As we asked about this strange behavior over our radio We where told his name was Bob and that was normal.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

I once nearly drowned (well, beyond nearly) when my brown lab chased a fawn into the pothole I was fishing. I still remember watching the poor little bugger flutter to the bottom after I had to let it go. Only a miracle that I survived that. Must have been about 1968.

My most interesting, funny, and hair-raising sideshow occurred when I was working as a park ranger in Alaska on the Brooks River. A visitor lady had been fishing all day unsuccessfully for rainbows with an outfit rented from the lodge. Forty pound test spinning outfit with a lunker spoon. Needless to say, she wasn't doing any good. I told her to come back when I got off at eleven and I'd bring a fly outfit, rig her up properly with an egg pattern, and help her get her rainbow. Her husband wasn't a fishing type but really wanted her to catch something (largely because she had spent the $$$ for a license). So she came back after I was off. As I was rigging up her rod a known nuisance grizzly showed up with her cub. "Egberta" was an old sow who was at that time sick (blowing white stuff out her nose) and her big lazy cub was also sucking her dry. She was having a tough time but had managed to bluff charge a fisherman the previous week and steal his fish. Consequently, she was becoming a problem. I ushered the visitor up on the now empty viewing platform while Egberta checked everything out where we were just standing. She hung around and hung around. Very frustrating because I suspected what she was up to. This damned bear was particularly badly habituated. Finally she ambled off up the road towards the upper camp. I waited at least ten minutes after she disappeared a quarter mile out of sight and then led the visitor, named Beth, out towards a small island in the river. It's kind of a bad spot that I called "No Man's Land" because once the bears were around no man belonged out there. Too easy to get trapped. But a couple of bows were always in the backwater behind it and I figured I could get Beth hooked up quickly and then we could beat a hasty retreat. I was wading in the lead and she was about fifteen yards behind me. I was fishing for sockeye with a modified Thunder Creek and a fair amount of lead on the leader. As soon as I laid the line in the water at the head of that backwater I hooked a big hen red salmon and my drag screamed. Once I was sure I was hooked up well, I turned to see if Beth was watching. She was looking right at me but to my horror I could see that gawdam Egberta coming at a lope from right behind her. I dropped the rod to try to stop the fish from jumping while palming the spool hard to keep the drag quiet since it was pretty obvious to me that the bear had keyed on the noise. Still the bear was coming. I hollered at Beth to come to me. Didn't want to say anything about the bear because I was afraid she might panic. She looked at me and smiled. What the ...? "Beth, get the hell over here now!" She looked at me, nodded her head, and kept stripping in her line. Sweet Jeezus, that blond bear was still coming and it was going to run right over her! "Gawdam it! Get your $*^%g fat arse over here RIGHT NOW!!! (+ a few more expletives). Her mouth drops, she blushes, and she comes stumbling towards me almost in tears. "What did I do wrong?" As soon as she was within reach I told her the bear was almost on us and to get behind me. She looked over her shoulder and finally followed orders, now almost without waiting for me to step aside first! That gal was glued so close to my backside I think I could hear her heart beating. By then, I had broken off the leader (which I rarely had to resort to). Arms in the air and swearing like a muleskinner I stood off that damned bear for probably ten minutes before she finally accepted that there was no booty and moved on. Didn't really have a choice in the matter because there was no place to go except back the way we came. As soon as the bear was gone and I had a long enough mental time out to regain my composure, I asked Beth why she didn't come when I first called out to her. "Oh, I thought you were talking to the fish." A really sweet gal but not the sharpest crayon in the box. Seems to me I did get her a rainbow but I think it wasn't till the following morning. That bear came pretty close to getting terminated. It had been several years since they had to destroy one but I suspect it's happened there since then. Only a matter of time with a hundred bears working 2.5 mile stretch of river that's also filled with thousands of shutterbugs and fisherman every summer.

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from WVFA3 wrote 1 year 1 week ago

A group of buddies and myself decided the best way we could introduce ourselves to fly fishing was with a trip for salmon in northern Michigan. On the third day of the trip I came off the river in the evening and sat on the bank while my friends waded back up the river. I looked up at the sky, which was becoming increasingly dark, and through the space in which the river cuts the wood line I saw green streaks through the black sky. For the first, and still only, time in my life I was witnessing the "Northern Lights". I've known people who have traveled to see such a sight, all I had to do was go fishing.

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from Jake_PA wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Every day out in the woods or on the water brings a new experience but one recently has stuck with me. I was fishing Raystown Lake and was slowly working my way back to the dock when I saw a Bald Eagle flying over the water and landing on a dead tree. It was just a picture perfect moment that photographers around the world strive for. I just stopped fishing and watched for awhile. I was lucky enough to see the beautiful bird up close and in the wild.

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from MICHMAN wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

One memory that I fondly recall is from my high school years. I was fishing with my father and brother on a small southern Michigan lake. We were catching hungry panfish and all three of us were facing the shoreline reeling in fish after fish. Suddenly we heard a loud "swishing" noise like a whale blowing water through the tiny hole on top of his head. When we turned around there was a giant hot air balloon thirty feet off the water highlighed by the shining sun that was making its nightly descent. We waved at the pilot and enjoyed his peaceful intrusion as he quietly flew over our heads. Great memory!

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from fisherking1999 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

While fishing out of a kayak on a lake in NC, I heard a loud SNAP that echoed throughout the area. I looked to shore, and a dead tree, about 100 feet long was falling, and landed about 50 feet from me with an even louder crash and huge splash. I got a little wet, but not soaked. That always reminds me of the saying "if a tree falls in the woods (or lake) does it make a sound?"

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from bowman77 wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I remember one quiet morning in late June when I was young. I was stalking the banks of a secluded farm pond, practicing my fly casting with my newly acquired and first fly rod. I was casting an old popper I found in the barn that my grandpa had probably used many years ago on one of his bamboo rods. It was one of those mornings that everything was just right. Not in terms of catching fish; but I just knew; this is where I needed to be. The calm, cool morning air was kind and welcomed. A shallow layer of mist danced on the pond, just before the sun made its way over the trees that surrounded the cove. The rays pressed there way through the leaves and onto the misted, still waters. I decided to break from fishing, as I sat down on my old tackle box and just listened to the silence and watched. Within a couple minutes, a doe and her fawn emerged from the wooded cove, and came to the pond edge, no more than 40 yards from me for a morning drink. As the mother quietly drank from the water’s edge, her fawn took to the narrow, shallow water and proceeded to prance and play with out care. The fawn’s splashing, echoed around the sheltered cove, as I just sat and watched in silence. It was the definition of innocence. No care, no worries, just enjoying life in that moment. I watched for several minutes, but could have watched for an eternity. After the doe and fawn dissolved back into the dark of the trees, I made a few more cast and called it a morning. I didn't care about catching anymore fish that morning. I got to experience all that I needed. The same reason most of who hunt and fish get up early and do what we do. It’s not the catch or the kill at the end of the day that draws us to the water or our stand. It’s the experience as a whole that separates us from everyday life. A feeling that most often has to be felt; and that can rarely be appropriately described.

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from Michael Jager wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

As a child no matter where in world we were living at the time we would vacation as a family in South Carolina. Most of these vacations were spent on Daufuskie Island which is only accesible by boat. One summer when I was about 12 years old, I was fishing in one of the many fresh water ponds on the island when I hooked about a 2LB bass only a few feet from shore. As soon as that fish hit my lure a 7ft alligator hit the water and started motoring right for me and my fish. I struggled to unhook the fish knowing that until I did the alligator was going to keep coming. Just as the gator was closing in on me (about 4-5 ft away) I unhooked the fish and tossed it into the water. The gator turned instantly and dove in after the bass. This was the closest I ever got to one, but in all the years we spent on Daufuskie I always enjoyed sharing the water with those gators as well as all the other wonderful wildlife the island has to offer.

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from bscrandall wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

Last summer my family went to Myrtle Beach,SC. My dad and I went fishing on a pier. Neither of us had ever fished the ocean. We caught 12 fish, but the most interesting thing was the multiple sharks and sea turtles. When the fish weren't biting, I'd just sit back and watch them.

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from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend a generous amount of time on some of the most amazing streams and rivers that flow over this great nation. During my time spent fishing the beautiful western states, God's country, I've had the pleasure of experiencing many spectacular moments that didn't involve a fish. I can remember always thinking or saying out loud, this is why I am out here.
It's been difficult to corner a specific event that I would consider my favorite but at the same time, it has been delightful playing back all the great memories. If I really had to choose, I would say my favorite experience took place while floating the Madison river with a few great friends. There were two boats of us and I was manning the oars of the lead boat. I had begun to ferry across to river left and as I made it to the middle of the river an enormous cinnamon phase black bear emerged from the brush on our right. The bear was 60 yard down stream and looking right in your direction. I held in the center of the river as we floated closer. When we passed him or her, we were so close I could see the color difference in its fur. That bear didnt take his eyes off of us the entire time. It was the first color phase black bear i've seen and an extremely close encounter. Very cool and very unsettling the way it just stared as we floated by.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

I've encountered all kinds of natural wonders while fishing. A bear in my tent, chased by a moose, birds of prey grabbing my fish, bull sharks, whales etc... The one that stuck with me the most was when I was a teenager. I was helping out as a mate on a bottom fishing charter. There were about 40 folks fishing, most of them tourists. While I'm fixing tangled lines I hear their cameras clicking (back in the old days). I look over the rail and there is a pod of killer whales bumping the boat. The crowd is loving it..they think they are dealing with Shamu...and they might take a ride on his back.
Anyway...the Captain screams for me to get them off the rail. They're arguing and I'm in a shouting match with them to stand back (they are so close, we can't run the risk of even starting the engines. The Captain comes out of his cabin and starts threatening people and they finally go inside.
When we get back, he explains that the Killer Whales thought they were seals and could have jumped up and snatched them over the rail.The tourists were still mad, they were thinking "Disney" and such a thing could never happen. Years later I'm watching a National Geographic show and there are Killer Whales playing off the rocky shore among. Some seals are safely watching them from the rocks...or so they think. Damned if they weren't bobbing like camera snapping tourists ...when all of a sudden the Killer Whales damn near beach themselves on the rocks, rolling back into the sea, with a couple of slow witted trusting seals from the edge.

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from WVFA3 wrote 1 year 1 week ago

A group of buddies and myself decided the best way we could introduce ourselves to fly fishing was with a trip for salmon in northern Michigan. On the third day of the trip I came off the river in the evening and sat on the bank while my friends waded back up the river. I looked up at the sky, which was becoming increasingly dark, and through the space in which the river cuts the wood line I saw green streaks through the black sky. For the first, and still only, time in my life I was witnessing the "Northern Lights". I've known people who have traveled to see such a sight, all I had to do was go fishing.

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from vasportsman wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

I would have to say the most frequent and interesting sideshows during my fishing and duck hunting excursions are kingfishers. Very much like you describe the otters, you get the feeling like they are laughing at you as they fly by cackling. Best memory of them is when I was in high school and wading a trout stream near my home after school, had a pair of kingfishers fly up and perch just across the river and watch me. Interesting, but no big deal, I went on about my wade, hoping seeing them was good luck. I caught a few stocked rainbows, kept wading, and discovered that the pair was still following me. I took a break, sat on the bank and watched them for awhile, then continued, and they kept right up with me down the river. It was nothing amazing or glorious, but just kind of neat, a small thing that you just smile at later on. And as I took my leave of them after a few hours it was kind of sad.

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from peppeli wrote 1 year 3 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow was when I was about 10, fishing on a home water in Minnesota. Although this wasn't on a trout stream, where I have had many sideshows, it is a memorable one.

We were on Lake Lizzie, a Pelican chain lake if you are familiar with the area, the water was very clear, the lake dead calm, and the sun bright. Thus the fishing sucked but the show that the local loons gave us were amazing. The acted more like dolphins, diving under the boat, circling around us calling, skiing on the water by flapping their wings just enough to really move but not take off. It was crazy to see them knowingly interact with us and really made the day although we ended up skunked.

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from maddy wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

every year my family and i take a trip up north to nesowdenehunk which is fly fishing only. my dad and i went out in our little john boat. we had caught two or three, i cant remember, really nice brookies, so we tied them to a string and tied em' to the boat and put them in the water so they would stay fresh. we continued fishing and i heard a loud "bump" on the bottom of the boat. i asked my dad what it was and he said that he just moved. but when it was time to head in, i brought the fish back into the boat and to my surprise, there were only two fish heads left! we still don't know what got em'.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow is whatever happens that day. I love just soaking up sun listening to the water, the wind, birds, and everything else.
I have had a couple close encounters with animals. Once I was fishing a small stream with thick overgrown banks causing me to constantly walk away from the stream to get further up it. As I'm walking back to it I climb the trunk of a tree that had cracked a few feet up to scope the stretch of stream. As I'm looking I hear a noise behind me and there is a 150-200lb ish black bear walking right towards me. I stood still on the trunk and just after it passed me it took a smell, looked right at me and took off about 20 yards then turned to me again sniffing before it ran off for good. It was really cool and I was shocked at how frightened of me it was(probably because I was a few feet up in the air making me look really big).
Another time I was fishing early spring and heard splashing around a bend. not knowing what it was I looked causiously. It was a doe with her fawn still in it's spots playing in the water. Must have been the first trip to the stream for the little guy the way it was jumping and playing in the water.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite sideshow is whatever happens that day. I love just soaking up sun listening to the water, the wind, birds, and everything else.
I have had a couple close encounters with animals. Once I was fishing a small stream with thick overgrown banks causing me to constantly walk away from the stream to get further up it. As I'm walking back to it I climb the trunk of a tree that had cracked a few feet up to scope the stretch of stream. As I'm looking I hear a noise behind me and there is a 150-200lb ish black bear walking right towards me. I stood still on the trunk and just after it passed me it took a smell, looked right at me and took off about 20 yards then turned to me again sniffing before it ran off for good. It was really cool and I was shocked at how frightened of me it was(probably because I was a few feet up in the air making me look really big).
Another time I was fishing early spring and heard splashing around a bend. not knowing what it was I looked causiously. It was a doe with her fawn still in it's spots playing in the water. Must have been the first trip to the stream for the little guy the way it was jumping and playing in the water.

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from coachsjike wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

watching both of my sons catch their first sunny at 4yrs old and 5 yrs old respectfully. awesome to watch the smile on their faces and become addicted to something other than video games.

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

Best fishing sideshow? Without a doubt, it's my favorite memory of my grandpa. He taught me how to tie a cinch knot and how to fillet a fish, both skills that I have since passed on to my son, but my favorite memory goes as follows: I'm from Indiana, but I spent a couple summers out in California, where my grandparants lived and we would always make time for a special camping & fishing trip. We would spend a week camping & fishing up on the Cali/Oregon border on Lake Copco. Our sole purpose was to fish...wake up, fish, come back for breakfast, fish, eat lunch, fish, dinner, fish. As a 10 yr. old, I was in Heaven! The locals used to say the fish would bite on anything, which I can attest to...I pulled in a 15" lake perch on a piece of chewed up bubblegum! One drizzly afternoon, my grandpa & I were out fishing for whiting on one of the many tributaries that fed the lake. Tall pine trees lined both side of the tributary. Well, there we were, in a small john boat drifting down the river and my grandpa gets a bite. He fought the fish for a minute before bringing it out of the water. It wasn't a spectacular fish, but what happened next was incredible. Out of nowhere, a bald eagle swooped down and snatched the fish right off the hook! Yeah...a bald eagle stole my grandpa's fish! All that was left was a small piece of the fish on the hook. We both sat there in complete silence as we watched the bird fly back to it's nest...it must have been watching us the whole time. That fishing trip was loaded with memories, including my first midnight cat-fishing expedition & my first trout, but the fish-stealing eagle has got to be, hands down, my best fishing memory. My grandpa has long since passed away, but every summer, I seem to find a way to tell that story to my son Jake and remind him that's it's not always about the fish that you catch, but the people you catch them with.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

It was perfect weather for trout fishing on the Snake River in Idaho. The time was June of 1969 and my brother's soon-to-be in-laws had secured permission from a friend to allow me to drive over his farm to a point that overlooked the Snake River, a short distance below Lower Mesa Falls. I carried my gear through the alders and other such down the slope to the river. I changed to my waders and left my shoes on a narrow trail to mark the point where I needed to start the climb back to the top. It was a steady fish-and-walk outing. About two hours in and I was a half mile from where I started and decided to climb out and head on down stream. Upon gaining the trail along the bank, I was faced with a flattened area along the trail and lots of coarse brown hair. A closer look revealed a very fresh bear track over the top of my footprint. The grizly bear had been laying there, watching me fish. One errant backcast and I would have "snagged" the biggest and likely my last catch ever. I do not know the Idaho state for the 200 yard dash, up-hill, and in waders, but I believe that record is mine. And, no, I didn't go back for my shoes.

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from bankwalker wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

My favorite side show to fishing generally is the people around you. I fish mostly small forest preserve ponds that function to keep a small patch of green in the city. That being said there is always something else going on in the preserve from picnics, to dogs playing, to cyclists darting around and more. Watching small children run in circles while their moms try to control them or their dads try to keep them interested in fishing or the family or whatever sport happens to be happening is truly entertaining. Of course it reminds me of how my brother and I would torture our father while he tried to do the same all while not losing an expensive piece of gear to the water. Having a sense of nature and a large green area in a city is the greatest sideshow to fishing.

But for a funnier note I have to talk about Bob the Turtle. My father and I do regular fishing trips and for a little while we joined my uncles trip up to the Arrow head region of Minnesota. Their we fish for a week before heading home. On what maybe the greatest bass fishing day of my life, we pulled on to a small point in a small bay which was a link between two lakes. Fish downed trees listening to loons howl on the main lake and chatting about the next spot we noticed a large snapping turtle in the area. First this turtle would seem to move at random. then we noticed he was following our bobbers. This was not too distressing until he followed one back to the boat. there he proceeded to swim around the boat following every line to its end. Bob did this several times until we realized he was searching for our bait bucket and our stringer of fish for an easy meal. Bob final got so hunger that he tried to get into the back of the boat to see what we had but fortunately could make it over the gunwale. As we asked about this strange behavior over our radio We where told his name was Bob and that was normal.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 2 weeks ago

I once nearly drowned (well, beyond nearly) when my brown lab chased a fawn into the pothole I was fishing. I still remember watching the poor little bugger flutter to the bottom after I had to let it go. Only a miracle that I survived that. Must have been about 1968.

My most interesting, funny, and hair-raising sideshow occurred when I was working as a park ranger in Alaska on the Brooks River. A visitor lady had been fishing all day unsuccessfully for rainbows with an outfit rented from the lodge. Forty pound test spinning outfit with a lunker spoon. Needless to say, she wasn't doing any good. I told her to come back when I got off at eleven and I'd bring a fly outfit, rig her up properly with an egg pattern, and help her get her rainbow. Her husband wasn't a fishing type but really wanted her to catch something (largely because she had spent the $$$ for a license). So she came back after I was off. As I was rigging up her rod a known nuisance grizzly showed up with her cub. "Egberta" was an old sow who was at that time sick (blowing white stuff out her nose) and her big lazy cub was also sucking her dry. She was having a tough time but had managed to bluff charge a fisherman the previous week and steal his fish. Consequently, she was becoming a problem. I ushered the visitor up on the now empty viewing platform while Egberta checked everything out where we were just standing. She hung around and hung around. Very frustrating because I suspected what she was up to. This damned bear was particularly badly habituated. Finally she ambled off up the road towards the upper camp. I waited at least ten minutes after she disappeared a quarter mile out of sight and then led the visitor, named Beth, out towards a small island in the river. It's kind of a bad spot that I called "No Man's Land" because once the bears were around no man belonged out there. Too easy to get trapped. But a couple of bows were always in the backwater behind it and I figured I could get Beth hooked up quickly and then we could beat a hasty retreat. I was wading in the lead and she was about fifteen yards behind me. I was fishing for sockeye with a modified Thunder Creek and a fair amount of lead on the leader. As soon as I laid the line in the water at the head of that backwater I hooked a big hen red salmon and my drag screamed. Once I was sure I was hooked up well, I turned to see if Beth was watching. She was looking right at me but to my horror I could see that gawdam Egberta coming at a lope from right behind her. I dropped the rod to try to stop the fish from jumping while palming the spool hard to keep the drag quiet since it was pretty obvious to me that the bear had keyed on the noise. Still the bear was coming. I hollered at Beth to come to me. Didn't want to say anything about the bear because I was afraid she might panic. She looked at me and smiled. What the ...? "Beth, get the hell over here now!" She looked at me, nodded her head, and kept stripping in her line. Sweet Jeezus, that blond bear was still coming and it was going to run right over her! "Gawdam it! Get your $*^%g fat arse over here RIGHT NOW!!! (+ a few more expletives). Her mouth drops, she blushes, and she comes stumbling towards me almost in tears. "What did I do wrong?" As soon as she was within reach I told her the bear was almost on us and to get behind me. She looked over her shoulder and finally followed orders, now almost without waiting for me to step aside first! That gal was glued so close to my backside I think I could hear her heart beating. By then, I had broken off the leader (which I rarely had to resort to). Arms in the air and swearing like a muleskinner I stood off that damned bear for probably ten minutes before she finally accepted that there was no booty and moved on. Didn't really have a choice in the matter because there was no place to go except back the way we came. As soon as the bear was gone and I had a long enough mental time out to regain my composure, I asked Beth why she didn't come when I first called out to her. "Oh, I thought you were talking to the fish." A really sweet gal but not the sharpest crayon in the box. Seems to me I did get her a rainbow but I think it wasn't till the following morning. That bear came pretty close to getting terminated. It had been several years since they had to destroy one but I suspect it's happened there since then. Only a matter of time with a hundred bears working 2.5 mile stretch of river that's also filled with thousands of shutterbugs and fisherman every summer.

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