Home

 

Obituaries

 

Art & Leisure

 

Calendars

 

Puzzle Page

 

Coupons

Cover Story

Local

Sports

Outdoors

Classifieds

Contact Us

 

Fishing with Mike O'Brien

by Mike O'Brien
Catching “Bill Fish” On Pine Creek
     

Every fishing day has a story. This is one of them.
In April 2009, Dave Colley and I fished a popular pool on Pine Creek. The morning air was chilly, the water cold, and the trout tight-lipped. After an hour, we had only managed to catch one fish. We tried various techniques in an attempt to get the lethargic trout to respond. No matter the strategies employed, our luck didn’t change.
I then hooked something different; something I had never before caught. Over decades of fishing, immeasurable hours on the water, and over 100 fly-caught fish species, I had at no time landed one of these. I would love to report that it was some rare fish, but it wasn’t.
During my fishing life I have hooked many unintended objects. I have managed to fasten flies into hemlock, oak, maple, sycamore, rhododendron, and willow, and any number of other trees found near water. The hooks have also succeeded in stabbing an incalculable sum of dead, water-sodden leaves. My flies have been fouled in mountain laurel and other streamside bushes and plants, lily pads, cattails, weeds, brush, logs, and sticks. I have also snagged more than my share of stones. They are easy to hook, but hard to land.
My fortuitous hookups are not limited to flora or the stream bottom. I’ve been connected with countless bats, a beaver, two snakes, a turtle, one duck, and a few other birds. There were also landings of crayfish, freshwater clams and snails, and frogs (although most of those were intentional). I once hooked up with a cow while fishing Vermont’s Battenkill River. The fight ended quickly. The cow won.
I have hooked the boat I was fishing from, anchor lines, docks, lobster buoys, my rod and my line, as well as other anglers’ lines. Heck, I’ll admit it, I’ve even snared an angler or two; never seriously, although they might tell it differently. In all fairness, I have also hooked myself. But what I caught on Pine Creek that day outdid them all.
When anglers envision billfish — the family comprising of spearfish, sailfish, and marlins — they think of saltwater, warmer climates, and hard-fighting battles complete with spectacular aerial displays. The “bill fish” I caught on Pine Creek offered neither a gallant battle nor water-clearing leaps.
As Dave and I continued to ply the waters in hopes of a better outcome, I hooked what I believed was a leaf. I stripped in line to ready the rig for a few high-speed false casts, a common maneuver for leaf removal. But something looked different. Having snagged a foam flip-flop in 2008, curiosity took over. I wanted to see what the heck it was on the end of my line. Pulling is closer I thought, “My God, it’s a dollar.” I was wrong.
I carefully slid the soggy piece of paper to my waiting hand. It really put up very little struggle. What was attached to my fly wasn’t a dollar bill at all. It was a twenty-dollar bill! The fly was stuck near Jackson’s mouth, as if he had tried to eat it. This was too much not to share. I called for Dave to come and see the freshly caught “bill fish.” He obliged, and we agreed a photo was in order.
There is yet another twist to this story. I guess you could say my vision was 20/20. As I turned to get back to fishing, I found another twenty-dollar bill lying near the shore’s edge. It was money on the bank! Now our interests were really piqued. We walked the shoreline, both upstream and down. Dave concentrated on the creek’s edge. I had one eye scouting the shallows for cash, the other out toward the deeper water looking for a cadaver. I fully expected to see a body come floating by. Although in all honesty, I had my net ready just in case more money came drifting along. We found no more money, or a dead body.
I have always felt blessed with luck. I am Irish after all. But this has to be the most unlikely catch. I knew a guide on the Chesapeake Bay who used dollar-bill flies to catch stripers (that’s a story for another time), but never heard of anyone catching money. Other regulars to Pine Creek might know this pool by its common name, but for Dave and me it will forever be referred to as the Twenty-Dollar Pool.
In case you are curious, the “bill fish” took a size 10 root beer-colored Crystal Bugger.
By the way, Dave made me buy lunch. I used the second $20 I found to cover the cost, but the hooked and landed $20 bill is framed with the fly and a photo of me holding the trophy.



 
 
Click on a writer's photo below to read their articles.
 
 
Jim Webb, Jr.
From The Publisher
 
Steph Nordstrom
From The Editor
 
Fishing With
Mike O'Brien
 
Outdoors With
Ken Hunter
 
Scott on Sports
Scott Lowery
 
Sporting Matters
Jamie Spencer
 
The Jaded Eye
Gerry Ayers
 
Faith Conversations
Tim Hartzell
 
 
 
 
Home
 
Obituaries
 
Sports
 
Calendars
 
Puzzle Page
 
Coupons
 
Cover Story
Local News
Art & Leisure
Outdoors
Classifieds
Contact Us