During this time of self-quarantine, hand washing and social distancing, here is a essay by Doug Jeffries that let's us have a little fun and dream a bit. Thanks Doug... now go wash your hands.
“If you could only fish one place for the rest of your life where would it be?”
I recoiled like a turtle jerking his head into his shell when a shadow suddenly flashes overhead. For some baffling reason, watching water drops form on the side of a cold beer mug causes people to get all metaphysical and ask stupid questions like that.
Why can’t they be satisfied with good, beer-drinking questions like ‘You gonna eat that last fritter?’ or ‘Ever been bitten by a rabid bushmaster?’. Take my advice and stay on solid ground. Avoid the enigmatic quick-sand and philosophical mazes into which questions like that are sure to lead. Even taken at it’s moribund face value it’s a very disturbing question. Who would want to even consider the mind numbing boredom of fishing the same place over and over again, ad infinitum? Fishing one place for ever and ever would be like possessing only a single book and being forced to read it over and over again even though you know exactly what is going to happen in each subsequent paragraph. The image of my brain dried up like a raisin. My brain flopping around on a noodle-like brain stem popped into my head.
I let the question linger as I studied a crystalline drop pin-balling down the glass devouring other drops along the way. Maybe he’d forget he asked. I wasn’t that lucky.
“Did you hear me?” I heard. I just didn’t want to go there. Maybe a slight diversion would suffice and get us back on track. “No such place exists. You’re talking about the perfect fishing spot. You ever put your tongue on a bug zapper?”
“Alright, then what would be the perfect fishing spot?” Dammit! He was like a terrier on a bone. I need to find better beer drinking buddies. At least his revised question had plausible answers. I was looking at the bottles arranged behind the bar but they had all gone blurry and out of focus as my mind drifted.
“Well, first it would have to have a wide variety of fish to catch. And there’d have to be some big ones, some that are easy-to-catch, and some that you’d really have to work for. They’d hang out in the usual places but every once in awhile you’d get surprised and find one prowling about in a shallow riffle or sand bar. That would force you to be ready, pay attention, and hone your casting skills. And the conditions would vary – sometimes fast water, sometimes slow, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes clear water and super-spooky fish that will only take a small streamer perfectly presented on a long leader. And sometimes they’d be so aggressive they’ll eat just about anything you toss at them, especially poppers and surface flies. Oh yeah, and just because you hooked one didn’t mean you were going to land it. And there would have to be a reasonably decent chance of hooking into a truly extraordinary fish – the kind one dreams about and talks about forever.
There’d have to be wildlife and scenery to watch and photograph when it wasn’t my turn on the casting deck, with the chance of seeing some truly exceptional sights that 99% of the world never gets to see. It’d have warm, tropical weather – no need for heavy insulated gear and clothes, no frozen fingers trying to tie knots. But even the weather should change once in awhile. Maybe a rain squall passes over to sweeten and cool the air and bring the fish up. Or a stiffer than normal breeze comes up making it feel so good when you succeed in getting your fly into that tight little pocket. And no bugs, or at least so few you don’t need DEET to avoid getting eaten alive. The guides would be super-knowledgeable and excellent boat handlers. They’d be able to consistently show you the kind of fish their clients wanted – most of the time. Finding fish should never be a sure thing. And they’d be able to customize the day depending on their clients wishes and skills. And they’d be just as excited as they were on their very first day, they’d laugh a lot and always be up for a new adventure. A successful day wouldn’t depend solely on catching lots of fish. For me I’d want it to be cool and dry for sleeping. It sucks trying to sleep when its hot and humid. The food wouldn’t have to be fancy, just tasty and enough to avoid hunger. And there would absolutely need to be cold beer for the boat ride back to camp.”
Setting his now empty mug down on the bar, my now disinterested buddy said “Wow, you don’t want much, do you?”
I said “You asked. Oh, and I forgot my number one requirement for the perfect fishing spot. I wouldn’t see another boat or person all day if I didn’t want to. I refuse to fish in a crowd.”
My buddy had stopped listening. He was focused on getting the bartender’s attention for a refill. I had successfully bored him to distraction with my long winded soliloquy. But as I watched the bartender tip the mug to scrape off the excess foam, I suddenly realized that I had just described the Agua Boa. Could it be? I went back over my list of prerequisites and checked them all off one by one. Dang it! Sure enough, if I could only fish one place for the rest of my life it would be the Agua Boa.
I hope it never comes to that. But it’s comforting to know there is a place I could go to if I was forced to pick a single place to fish for the rest of my life. And I now have an answer to that stupid question.