Uncle Sam’s Magnificent Casters Now, wannabe flyfishermen can become hard Corps anglers. In a move reflecting how the work of the military changes, the Marine Corps has just announced that it will be conducting three-day flyfishing seminars at its “lodges” at Camp Pendleton, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina.
Marine spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Claymore J. Gillnet guarantees that every student will learn at a much faster rate than at the traditional flyfishing schools because “they won’t have to be told twice.” Sound intriguing? Well, pal, if you’re one of the i love montanaÂ¿Â¿Â¿stickered, teal-and-magenta-vested twits with biceps like wind knots, this course may not be your cup of latte.
Day One: At reveille, D.I.s (Designated Intimidators) will help the eager Maggots*1 greet the day with “Wakey, wakey, fellas, it’s 5 a.m. Wakey, wakey!” (Or words to that effect.) After a 9-mile run in full TBDs*2 comes the first day’s lectures:
“Trout-the Finned Foe Below” covers the operational range and respective fighting capabilities of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
“Hatches-the Key to Victory” is caddis-, stone-, and mayfly recognition taught by Marine flight instructors using large-scale models, silhouette cards, and bug-caked HUMVEE grilles.
“Forget Catch-and-Release-Get the Grease” has Recon Marines demonstrate campfire-building skills, and the Corps’ top chefs share recipes for Bunker Bouillabaisse, Saltpeter Paella, and Gung-Ho Gumbo. Maggots will retain a vast amount of this information thanks to the Marine Corps’ supportive approach to education-a time-tested blend of threats, ridicule, and limitless push-ups.
Day Two: The frantic fly flailers will be double-timed into the field for nonstop, action-packed, hands-on training such as Close Air Support (the tactical use of floatplanes and helicopter rappelling to infiltrate isolated trout strongholds; Command and Control (effective techniques for dispersing “unauthorized” anglers from sections of a stream where trout are rising; and Target Practice (accuracy and proper presentation taught at the lodges’ casting pools).
Maggots will also learn how to double-haul in three minutes under the gentle tutelage of D.I.s screaming such incisive questions as “What the hell do you think you’re doing, you sniveling, uncoordinated, sheep-kissing moron?” Day Three: The blood, sweat, and pathetic whimpering pay off on Hell Day. At 0300 hours, Maggots, goaded by D.I.s into a ferocious fish-fighting frenzy, begin the wicked weeding-out process with¿¿¿the Test. As a stress-induced cocktail of caffeine, adrenaline, and testosterone hammers through their veins, they race the clock to field-strip and reassemble a standard-issue fly rig, from backing to 7X tippet, then tie on a No. 28 Trico-with both eyes duct-taped shut.
Those who fail become golfers. Those who pass are rewarded with a 10-minute video introduction to HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute procedures before boarding Marine C-130s. At 32,000 feet, they jump and then free-fall 31,500 feet before popping their chutes over the TR (Target Riffle). Armed with an M-5WT rod, a single M-3 Adams FDU (Fly, Dry, Universal), they must limit out and make a 20-mile compass march to the LZ (Levitation Zone) where they’ll be snatched skyward on giant stringers suspended from hovering choppers. After a thrilling ride back to TL (The Lodge) they’ll be debriefed and thoroughly searched for contraband (extra flies, marshmallows, canned corn) by Marine officers using M-UTTs (bait-sniffing dogs).
Then, and only then, if they’re one of the few, the proud, the 2 percent who survive, will they receive a certificate that guarantees them a four-year enlistment in the toughest flyfishing fraternity in the world, where the only Latin a man needs to know is Semper Fi!
1 Traditional Marine term meaning student, beginner, or one of little value.
2 Trout Battle Dress, which includes M-2 Waders (Trousers, Rubber, Stream), M-9 Vest (Multipocket, Storage, Fly), sand-filled M-71 Creel (Container, Dead Trout), and a standard-issue M-5WT Rod (Shaft, Graphite, Expensive).