As I write this column, I find myself housebound. My right knee is sore and aching. This is the result of having knee surgery to correct the severe arthritis in that joint. While the nurses at both Baylor Hospital and the Continuum Rehabilitation Hospital took excellent care of me, I am glad to be sleeping in my own bed once again. On the 12th of December, my surgeon, Dr. Pat Peters, removed the staples from the wound. He assured me that I appeared to be on the road to full recovery. It will take weeks of rehabilitation before I reach that goal. I am now down from four pain pills a day to only one or two. I guess that is progress of a sort.
Before I begin to tie any flies for next season, I will have to put my fly-tying room in better order. Unfortunately, my movements are hampered by the fact that I am under orders to use a rolling walker whenever I move about. It will probably be sometime after Christmas before any flies will begin to pop out of my tying vice.
Yesterday both Willy Landem and “Split” Kane stopped by to cheer me up and bring me up-to-date on the local fishing. “Split” was upset because it seems someone had accused him of torturing the poor innocent fish. His feeling was that it was no one’s business if he wanted to go up to the LBJ Grasslands and catch a mess of brim for a fish fry. He went on to claim that fish do not feel pain and therefore could not even understand the term torture. This is an argument that has gone on for centuries. However, the latest in-depth studies by ichthyologists, who do not have an axe to grind on whether or not fish are capable of feeling pain, have come down on the negative side of this discussion.
Willy and I agree that fish are subject to predation from the moment their eggs are fertilized and then throughout their entire lives. We humans are the only predators that do not automatically always kill their quarry. Those who practice catch-and-release fishing may give a fish quite a fright but are capable of allowing them to resume their natural lives. This is quite different from supposedly benign “Mother Nature.” Make one mistake or hesitate for a split second and that organism is removed from the gene pool.
“Split” has not quite reached the point where he releases any but the smallest fish he catches. It takes awhile for most fishers to release the majority if not all the fish they bring to net. Willy and I admit that like most catch-and-release fly fishers, back in our past there lies an old, well greased black cast iron frying pan.
Having written over 200 of these columns, I am well aware that I need to be alert to certain fishing terms being incorrectly used when the column is in the process of being printed by someone not familiar with fly fishing terms. Sure enough, in the second paragraph in my November 22 column it should have read, “as I remove my three-and-one-half-ounce, relatively slow GRASS rod from its tube,” it was printed as, “slow GLASS ROD from its tube.”
The word grass was a sly way of referring to the fact that the rod in question was a bamboo fly rod. Tonkin Cane, arundinaria amabilis, is actually classified as a grass. Therefore, a bamboo fly rod can be correctly referred to a as being a “grass rod.” I had tried to avoid this error by written warning and by phone, but it still came out “glass.” Grrr!