Editors' note: It is no part of the purpose or intent of this Journal to encourage or glorify illegal activities. The Bureau of Conservation exists to preserve the streets and the fish for all of us, and our spawn, and our spawns' spawn, and it is the duty of all good anglers to cheerfully comply with the BoC rulings on gender and catch limitations, to the letter. Poaching has no place in a gentlewoman's hobby. That said, we publish these notes in the humble desire to advance the art and science of intercelestial fly fishing, and art, and science both, benefit from the free dissemination of information, even information on practices contravened by our laws. Too, it appears that any oathbreaking by the author of this letter (identified only as "Dm. Anonymous" in the scribbled manuscript slipped under our office door one recent Saturday) was, at least at the first, completely inadvertent. Who would ever have thought such a conventional, not to say boring, moist fly would raise such a catch, even in a wacky dayside street? Therefore, we present the following letter unedited and without further comment, in the hope that it may prove instructive and interesting. If nothing else, readers may become well educated on "what not to do".
It is with some considerable trepidation that I put pencil to paper and compose this letter to you. You will quite likely, upon reading it, tear it up and throw it in the wastebasket. I only hope that you do that instead of attempting to backtrace my handwriting. But, as a devoted angler "casting my fly where fools fear to tread", I cannot resist describing to you a curious catch I made some few weeks ago.
I was dayside fishing in Southern California, trying my luck with a modified Red Smith and McGinty fly. I had tied it similarly to the conventional one except with a darker shade of body floss - not a full "brown", but near the bottom of the "tan" range. This was an idea I had while reading Dm. Gina Kabetski's noteworthy article on UV effects in your November issue. It seemed to be effective; after a couple of practice casts I started pulling in fish, one on each orbit, until I had netted all of my limit bar one. I now had plenty for a fine dinner, but the asphalt beckoned, my transpo still had fuel for a few more orbits, and I decided to try one last cast instead of calling it a period. That was my first mistake.
The 48-minute delay while the transpo was dayside seemed like an eternity, and when I regained contact I was disappointed to get back only a "cast still in progress" indication. I considered aborting the cast, but figured at this point I might as well let it spin through another orbit. Imagine my delight 96 minutes later when I got a 450-pound readback! Would this be one for the books? The transpo seemed to have already taken most of the play out of the fish, so I started reeling it in.
A quick chamber check enlightened me as to the nature of my catch. It wasn't a 450-pound fish; it was a triple. My fly had locked fish on the splint, the mouth, and the fundament. Now, doubles are not so unusual in dayside fishing on this continent, and triples are not unknown. But this catch wouldn't be one I'd be bragging about in the club later for the simple reason that it put me two fish over my limit. I debated the merits of taking the extra fish home, gluttinously consuming them, bones and all, on the spot, and attempting to put them back, notwithstanding that I had used a fully barbed fly and their chances of normal survival back on the street would be minimal.
I decided to make another cast and try to replace them in the wild. Although that at the time seemed like the most responsible way to resolve the situation, I nonetheless count it as my second big mistake. Please note, too, that although the triple might seem remarkable, it was not the most unusual thing I caught that day. See remarks on the next orbit, below.
So I made the cast after having (I thought) unlocked the transpo to allow the fish (all three of them, for I am a food fisher and give credence to the old platitude of double catches invariably having inferior flesh; triples must needs be even worse, right?) to go free once they hit surface. I had forgotten the spring-loaded nature of the locks. Near as I can figure, the fish disengaged at around minute 5 of the dayside orbit, and in the remaining time the locks went active again, the polynomial reset, and yet a fourth fish showed up and was caught. Now the amazing and shameful part: this one was a doe!
Of course, I had no way of knowing, and certainly no reason to suspect, it was a doe when I started reeling it in; I just saw the 140-pound readback, figured that one of the fish of the triple had been too groggy to get away, and thought the kindest thing would be to just put it out of its misery. With only one, I would have neatly made my limit, and would never have had to tell anyone that that catch had originally been a triple.
I hope to pursue this great Sport for a good many days to come, and to see my share of marvelous things. But though I live to a thousand, I shall never expect to again see so remarkable a tableau as that of that poor little doe stuck - by the mouth, yet! - to the fly's splint. The look on the fish's "face" was priceless to behold. I swear, sometimes you'd think they were almost human! Was this a case of attempted cannibalism, something even more bizarre, or a purely accidental contact? Nothing in the Wilkes and Chesterton tome sheds any light on it, and my local club's behaviour expert, when questioned discreetly about a "hypothetical" catch over a few glasses of wine, was completely bewildered. Any explanation we could invent would require either the introduction of blind luck in implausible quantities, or else the assignment of human and even super-human motivations and desires to senseless vertebrates. Truly, a mystery.
The doe was about the same length as my fly (tied on a 5x4 chassis); its skin matched the tan body floss, but I see no significance in that. Fundament, thorax, and crown (!) showed empty; trim greybrown tuft at splint. Was this a mutant, or perhaps some pollution-induced form? If so, I was perhaps foolish to eat it.
But eat it I did. It was thoroughly sterile from the transpo radiation; they aren't designed for reeling in does, of course! So any ecological damage was already done. Besides, I doubt the street's gene pool really needs more mutants, if that is what it was. I figured there would be no better way to dispose of the evidence, and I must confess to some curiosity, now that I had gone and done the deed, as to how this forbidden vertebrate would taste.
Just the same as a buck, I discovered, with the usual hint of ozone that this region is famous for. Nothing special at all. Don't let the rumors (you *know* the ones I mean!) tempt you into poaching. Indeed, after this experience I daresay I will be retiring that tanned fly to my display case; deadly as it might be on dayside bucks, I don't want to risk fishing on the wrong side of the law any more than I can help. It's the straight and narrow, and probably nightside as well, for this girl!
- Dm. Anonymous