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  • There are six stages one must go through to become the complete fisherman. Most start in stage one as children. You grab a hunk of bamboo for a pole and use any kind of bait, hot dogs and baloney come to mind, but worms work too. You don’t care how big they are, you just keep yankin’ them in.

    Now in stage two you become slightly more sophisticated as you begin using an actual rod and reel. Your grandfather has taught you how to tie a fisherman’s knot and you practice casting until you can drop your hook twenty yards out and exactly where you want it. You still drag the fish in as fast as possible, but you no longer want to catch non-keepers.

    Stage three has two distinct characteristics. First you start experimenting with artificial bait: lures and dry flys. Second, as you work your lure to get a strike, you learn the pure enjoyment of playing the fish and slowly bringing him in. It’s no longer a race but a struggle between the species.

    Stage four is where most fishermen stall out, never to go any further. They buy boats and use many methods to fish. Trolling with multiple lines set out to give maximum chances of a strike is considered by some the ultimate fishing experience. It’s not!

    If you get to stage five, congratulations! You are now learning the time-worn art of fly fishing. It has many nuances to be mastered. Now, you can just buy your flies, OR you can learn to hand tie them. This activity can keep you busy those long winter months. When spring arrives you can, with a flick of the practiced wrist, lay your fly gently on the stream to be attacked by a nice brown or rainbow trout. Set the hook deftly and the fun begins. You have to keep just the right pressure on the line as you slowly pull it in. Too much, and the line snaps. Rod tip up always! It can take up to ten minutes to land a sizable trout, only to release him unharmed.

    I myself have reached stage six, which I contend is the ultimate, complete fisherman. The goal in stage six is no longer to catch fish, but to escape the bonds of earthly drudge and feel the pull of Mother Nature on your soul. If during this time I get a bite, it is usually by a mosquito or fly, for I have put no lure or bait on my pole. But to the uninitiated it appears as if I am totally absorbed by the end of my line. With dark glasses and a hat pulled down low, I can sit unmoving for hours. And because fishermen frown on idle chatter, no one ever expects me to socialize. The perfect disguise. Talk about your camouflage!

    Total, absolute relaxation! A fisherman’s fisherman!

    Photo is of my brother at stage 5. He's still working on stage 6.
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