My wife and I decided, not long after we got married, that if we wanted to stay married, it would be a bad idea to try to teach one another to do stuff. According to a statistic I made up in 1987, over half of all divorces come about from husbands trying to teach wives how to play golf. Husbands make lousy teachers. And canoeing in the same boat is tantamount to calling a lawyer.
So even though my wife decided several years ago she wanted to learn to flyfish, I knew better than to try to teach her. Not that I’m all that great at it myself, but even if I were Lefty Kreh or Leonard Wilson, and had taught hundreds of people to cast, we both knew she needed to learn from someone she wasn’t currently married to, or else her teacher would end up being someone she’d been previously married to.
Which is where Phil Stranahan comes in. Phil took my wife and I, along with Shane Townsend of Austin, kayak fishing at Rockport a couple of weeks ago. Phil isn’t a fishing guide, per se, but he’s been kayak fishing around Rockport for a good while, and knows his way around the bays as well as anyone. Which is saying something, if you ask me. Once I leave shore everything looks the same to me. The bays around Rockport are why God gave us the compass.
Although Phil does a lot of kayak fishing, he doesn’t do a lot of paddling. He has a tandem kayak with two trolling motors mounted on it, one on each side. He carries two batteries in the boat, and a lot of other stuff, so the whole thing weighs about 200 pounds, and holds only one people, instead of two people. He launches the kayak by backing it into the water on a trailer, which beats the wadding out of trying to drag it.
Jocelynn and I fished from Hobie kayaks borrowed from Lynda Pouyer at Seaworthy Marine Supply in Rockport, which has pretty much everything anyone could ever need to fish the coast, and then some. Lynda is one of the top Hobie kayak dealers in Texas, probably because she’s one of those cheerful, friendly folks that make Rockport such a nice town to visit. I’ve never seen Lynda when she wasn’t smiling.
Shane brought his own kayak, instead of mooching off Lynda, which may have been why he caught the only redfish of the day. It was a nice red, about 23½” long, but it was nowhere near as big as the three reds I almost caught. They all got loose, because of my bass fisherman’s need to set the hook, which doesn’t work with reds. I told Shane mine were bigger, but he seemed to think I needed to actually get the fish in the boat for proof. Shane’s a nice guy, but he has a lot to learn about fishing.
We had a great time paddling around, trying to keep up with Phil and his motors, all over some specific area of the bay. Phil told me where we were fishing, but I can’t remember what he said. Whenever I catch fish around Rockport, and someone asks me where I caught them, I say, “In the water.” That’s as close as I can get.
Phil had his flyrod along, and when Jocelynn expressed interest he offered to show her how to cast. He spent about half an hour with her, and she got the hang of it very well. I tried to offer a few comments, but she ran me off.
A few days after we came home Jocelynn decided she needed to take my flyrod to the Llano River and practice. I went along on that trip, too, and tried to tell her what she was doing wrong, but she ran me off again. Some people just don’t appreciate the efforts we make for them.
I went back to the car, and it wasn’t long before Jocelynn came running up with her very first flyfish, a 14½” bigmouth bass. She was wearing one of those grins where the corners of your mouth meet in the back of your head. I tried to convince her she never would’ve caught it if I hadn’t given her some pointers earlier, but I don’t think she heard me.
She was so excited she called Phil and told him about it. And then she called just about everyone else she knows. And then she called some people she doesn’t know, but has heard of. I finally stopped her before she called Lefty Kreh, although I think she gave him a shout later on, when I was busy cleaning the fish.
Now, of course, Jocelynn needs her own flyrod, or else she’ll wear mine out before long. She went back to the river the next day, and caught two more fish, although they weren’t big enough to keep. I’m thinking we might have to buy a place on the river, to save gas.
They say if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a woman to fish, she outfishes you for the rest of your life . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who ties his own flies – onto his tippet. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org