Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shaky Hands

August 29, 2008

This story is about the 2nd annual Duxbury “One-Fly” Tournament.

I hate tournaments. The men milling about, grasping for testosterone-boosting tales to tell, trying to look professional, like they’ve been doing this longer than the other guy…and such. Then off to the water to kill every fucking fish they can find, including sharks. The shark tournaments are the worst. Hundreds of them get slaughtered, like fish, and thrown out with the trash because they weren’t big enough for the trophy. I assume the trophy fish also get thrown out in many cases.

But I need to admit, if that is the right word, that some tournament fishermen are true sports fishermen and don’t attempt to needlessly kill fish and sharks. I am not one of them because I really don’t like the traditional tournaments and what they do to both the image of fishing and the fish themselves, never mind the whole ecosystem. So I don’t participate, and really, I want to let you know that I am aware of how smug and pompous these two paragraphs make me out to be. They are smug and pompous, just the right subtitle that should be tacked under most fishing tournaments. So there.

Well, really what I wanted to write about mostly is the fun I had with my friends, and newly acquired friends, throughout the planning and implementation process associated with this one-fly fishing tournament. But let’s just get a couple things straight at the start. First, you’re allowed to use two flies, so I reckon we’ll need to vote on a new name for next year’s tournament. Also, the tournament’s prizes are worth less than the underpants you are wearing right now. Lastly, the tournament is designed such that if we were to hold one every day of the year, we would probably increase the striper population by driving most other fishermen out of the bay while hooking magnitudes fewer fish than Santa, thus saving the species from its impending collapse. Hmmn?

The tournament rules and regulations are too dull to ensure that you’ll keep reading this piece, so I’ve left them out. But basically it is all about getting the biggest striper on one fly pattern throughout the day….but you get two flies to work with, which is why it is called the one-fly tournament. We form teams of two and mix everyone up such that each boat has conflicting yet complimentary interests: you team with someone on another boat AND with who you’re fishing with (for the boat prize) and for yourself (to get that spiffy jacket that could be used for picking up chicks at the Winsor a couple hours after the annual beach party ends, unless the winner is a woman who then, of course, could pick up a wide variety of eager men at the Winsor at any of the 4:30 pm opening times).

But first there is the planning process, sometimes more fun than the actual event because geez, getting 47 emails each afternoon is truly an ego boost (until you read each one of them) and you get to vote on crazy stuff like how to officially measure the fish, what plaid designs should be considered for the coats, how many bottles of Mt. Gay Rum will be necessary, who the hell is going to provide the dinner fishes, and such. Right now you think I am being sarcastic, and I am, but with a smile because all this stuff is fun and we’ll keep doing it every year.

The tournament itself is also fun, if you like to fish under a radioactive scorching ball of reacting hydrogen. Yes, that’s right, we fish mostly throughout the midday on this one – gotta make things tough on ourselves. Last year it was on a Saturday which added several additional handicaps to the mix: fourteen-thousand Grady Whites, a few dozen jet-skis, and lots of sailboats. This year we did it on a Friday to make sure we’d avoid these distractions and compete only against the commercial striped bass fleet. And this we did.

I can’t report on anyone else’s tournament experience, just my own. Rob Fawcett and I fished hard and sober all day long. We hooked stripers and blues and eventually lost our two flies to end up throwing sluggos into a cool rip at the end of the day for an amazing array of keeper bass and blues. Just like last year. The flyfishing was fun until we witnessed J. Nash, within the first half-hour, land a 36 incher in one of our popular spots. A sight that immediately crinkled my manhood while boosting his. But we all had fun and by 3:45 I am betting that all entrants were thinking more about rum and tonics, oysters, and the cheese plate than getting cut off again by the exquisite bluefish. By 5:45 this was proven true by the parade of cars and trucks that descended upon the Nash barn (his wife and kids gagged and tied to chairs in the cellar) and quickly devoured the food and beverages like termites in a rotten stump.

We carried on throughout dinner which consisted of amazing stripers and tuna (mine sat unwanted in a lonely blue/white cooler in the driveway) and other fixings. We handed out the awards, munched on cookies, drank more drinks. Then the best part of the night drew upon us and one by one, the jokes (most of them embarrassingly dirty) bloomed to the point to where the final one told, the last joke of the night, curled the group up into quivering, spasmodic adolescents. It was a good one.

But seriously folks: the one-fly tournament was one of my summer’s highlights, even if it really isn’t full of blood and gore. It is full of guts and good times and I will remember each one for the rest of my days. I think that is the ultimate intention.

1 comment:

Cousin Jean said...

John, Sounds like fun was had by all...
I don't suppose PETA will be after y'all any time soon. I'd like to hear the joke next time I see you...if you can repeat it with a reasonable level of comfort to a girl. my favorite line..."By 5:45 this was proven true by the parade of cars and trucks that descended upon the Nash barn (his wife and kids gagged and tied to chairs in the cellar)..." Digging the imagery--celebratory & sordid--all in one scene. I like it. :)