Fish Lit Classic … Steketee’s Ode to “Fly Shop Guy”

Eleven: Fly shop guy often will pin his sparkling new dory against concrete bridge pilings of large western rivers. He … Continued

Eleven: Fly shop guy often will pin his sparkling new dory against concrete bridge pilings of large western rivers. He will swim ashore, thumb a ride back to town, then hours — sometimes days — later, attempt to remove said dory with lengths of climbing rope and a luxury Suburban. Generally, he is unsuccessful.

Twelve: Fly shop guy thinks self-lubricating polymer coatings and filleting have more to do with service station profilactics and acts of oral outrage than they do with fly lines and fish cleaning.

Thirteen: Fly shop guy does not drink Budweiser or bourbon at the Bunkhouse in Toston, because he drinks Fat Tire or flavored coolers at the sports bar in Bozeman.

Fourteen: After fly shop guy has run you through a litany of his on-river heroics — ripping lips, pounding banks, stripping buggers, raking shelves, dredging pools, shuffling tail-outs, busting casts, crushing rapids, mining hawgs, back-breaking tugs-of-war — you are certain he is describing a war or industrial effort.

Fifteen: Fly shop guy thinks every foul-hooked whitefish is a twenty-inch brown trout.

Sixteen: Fly shop guy thinks Black Beauties, Green Machines, and Desert Storms are pharmaceuticals he dropped at an Allman Brothers concert at Deer Creek last spring, not San Juan River midge imitations.

Seventeen: At the bar, fly shop guy is arguing vigorously that a run of jacks is four of a kind in All-American Poker, not sexually immature salmon or an important book by Richard Hugo.

Eighteen: Fly shop guy is organizing $8.99 Rainier 18-packs, TJ’s Exxon Station goodies, two dozen dogs, and a pile of other fly shop guys for a party float on the Madison River during your favorite stonefly hatch.

Nineteen: If fly shop guy were a city, he’d be Wilmington, Delaware. If he were a car, he’d be a mid-eighties burgundy Cutlass Sierra. If he were a football team, he’d be the Crimson Tide.

Twenty: Eventually, all things — even fly shop guy — merge into one, and a river filled with his empties and discarded fishing equipment runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless fiberglass markings from fly shop guy’s rowing mishaps. Under the rocks are the frequently stoned, inarticulate, nutrient leaching words, and some of the words are his. I am haunted by fly shop guy.

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Deeter