2003 Contents

Drake 2003 Issue
  • P.J. O’ Rourke goes Cat Fishing
  • John Geirach gets High
  • Rick Ruoff Reminisces
Image: Brian O' Keefe

What to do when a fish morphs from gills and guts into something larger - a memory that splashes across three generations of anglers, alternating between dream and reality? Born to my grandfather, this fish swam through my father Charles and landed with me. Even before I hooked her one cool April morning on Georgia's Soquee River, I dreamt of her - a big rainbow on light line.

The ancient Mako 17 lounged beside an Indian River fishing camp. Amid the rusted trailer and decaying leafy interior clutter was her magical and somehow readable stern message merrily announcing, "Reds R Us."

I chuckled at the irony of that sun-bleached clunker's name as I wheeled a friend's sleek, carbon-and-fiberglass Maverick down the ramp. Almost single-handedly, redfish have CPR'ed life back into the light-tackle fishing markets of the inshore Gulf and lower East Coast. Reds R Us was built over 30 years ago, in the bad old days, even before Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme's blackened redfish craze reached epidemic proportions. Thanks to proactive anglers and the multi-state Coastal Conservation Association, species-devastating commercial netting was reduced, and now even old time crackers are surprised at the booming redfish numbers.

"A brook trout wouldn't last five minutes in this water," I say to Haroldo as he leans over the gunwale and washes the slime off his knife. "Never mind the water temperature he'd be dead before he ever felt the heat."

Haroldo looked up, smiled, and nodded like he understood. "You believe in natural selection?" I ask.

Another smile, perplexed, and then a blank stare.

"You know...Charles Darwin—survival of the fittest?"

"Eh?"

"Never mind."

I grew up in Detroit, a city whose belching smokestacks and clamoring auto plants preach a relentless contempt for mass transportation. Yet when I moved to Washington, D.C., I fell in love with trains—the grand stations and comforting rhythms of the ride hooked me. I eventually ditched my car completely, relying solely on bike, cab and train for transportation.

Springtime on the Bighorn and the midges are thick, blanketing the water, your dory, and your legs if you let them. They look like 'skeeters but aren't, and despite their huge numbers on the surface, many trout will still hold tight to the river bottom, living large on midge larva trying to worm-wiggle their way to pupa status.