June 20, 2018
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Saturday dilemma: Hunt, fish or exercise?

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Saturday morning was, according to our original master plan, the day Hunting Buddy and I were finally going to spend the day hunting turkeys.

All through May, we’d talked about hunting turkeys. We talked about locations (unavailable or unproductive). We talked about our schedules (one or the other of us was always busy). And we never actually got out there and hunted.

On Saturday, that was going to change. That was the original master plan, you see.

Master plans, of course, have a way of subtly changing … or being completely scrapped.

It should come as no huge surprise, then, when Hunting Buddy and I found ourselves waist-deep in the Piscataquis River on Saturday morning, waving fly rods in the general direction of rising trout.

Let me clarify: Hunting Buddy (or should I call him Fishing Buddy?) was casting to rising trout. Me? I was flogging the water unmercifully. I was troutless.

Our hunt-or-fish dilemma unfolded Friday, when we headed to a guaranteed, no-doubt-about-it spot to do a bit of turkey scouting, even though both of us knew we really didn’t need to put in the advance legwork.

The spot was, after all, guaranteed. We could waltz in Saturday morning, make a few calls, and take our pick of hefty gobblers.

At least, that’s the way I saw it.

The spot was also, as we quickly found out, very wet and extremely muddy.

Not that soggy mud would necessarily have deterred us, mind you.

Soggy mud on a trail to a spot that showed absolutely no sign of turkeys? Well, that did put a bit of a damper on our Saturday plans.

As we headed back to Bangor and tried to decide what to do the following morning, a flock of turkeys gathered not far from the road. They seemed to nod in our direction. They seemed to be taunting us. They seemed to be telling us to stay away. They were there to send a message. No doubt about it.

At least, that’s the way I saw it.

After some discussion, we (me and Fishing Buddy, not me and the turkeys) realized if we went turkey hunting, we’d have to wake up at 3 a.m. By going fishing, we could sleep an extra two hours.

Seeing as how our guaranteed spot was (as far as we knew) now a turkey-free zone, and seeing as how the trout-stocking trucks had reportedly filled the Piscataquis River to the brim with hungry fish, our decision became a bit clearer.

And on Saturday, we fished.

We had to avoid a collision with a rogue, road-crossing turkey (which was also clearly sending us a message), but eventually, we fished.

Well, Fishing Buddy fished.

I didn’t. Not really. Instead, I exercised.

I know, you’re not believing that for a minute. But it’s true. I exercised. The real question you could be excused for asking, I suppose, is this: Was the exercise intentional or not?

My answers (choose one): It doesn’t really matter. None of your business. Umm … no.

I was exercising. And that’s all you need to know.

Like the time I tried to creep down the steep, rain-slicked slope to the river, and my feet slid out from under me? That was exercise, plain and simple. Just ask me what my heart rate was after I had flailed about, tossed my fly rod into the bushes, avoided falling, and somehow emerged with no bruises or broken bones.

When your pulse rate is that high, you’re clearly working out, I figure.

In fact, it seems that I did nothing but exercise all day Saturday. While Fishing Buddy headed upstream to target rising trout that I hadn’t seen (I misread his hand signals and thought he was going to find a nice, comfortable rock to rest on), I stayed put and worked on getting my casting arm in shape.

Josh Beckett throws about 110 pitches an outing. So does Jon Lester.

Me? I have no pitch count. And I’m (apparently) perfectly willing to make cast after cast after cast to nonexistent fish. Hundreds of casts. Hundreds.

No problem. I was exercising.

Those times Fishing Buddy thought I was swatting flies? Not so. Exercising my non-casting arm.

And the time it looked as if I’d slipped on a slimy rock and nearly fallen in the river?

I was just cross-training … and trying out a few of the latest water aerobics moves.

Yes, Fishing Buddy caught a few trout Saturday. He was happy. I was happy.

He’s new to this fly-fishing game, after all, and the more fish he catches now, the more apt he’ll be to continue to fish with me in the future.

Some day, however, I’ll have to teach him about some of the finer points of the game.

Those finer points, I’ve figured out, take years to learn, and decades to master. I’m still learning. I’m not yet a master. But I’m working on it, day by day, cast by cast, fish by … well, you get the point.

Let’s just agree that there are finer points to be learned.

Like how much fun you can have when you don’t end up catching fish, for instance.

And like how much exercise you can get while fly fishing.

At least, that’s the way I see it.



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