Dandy & Flirt
There is a big trout named Dandy living just above the old Cotter bridge. A string of islands running north to south is covered and uncovered by the dramatic fluctuations of water flow. Dandy doesn’t care, this is her home, and she has all she needs, right were she is.
Dandy has an admirer, or stalker of sorts. He’s an old man that goes by the name ‘Flirt’. Flirt has been fly fishing for Dandy nearly a decade. He often sees her laid up near the bank, in the shallow water of the sun. More often he spots her wide back and dorsal fin in the seams of the broken water. Other times, she’s chasing bait fish, sipping bugs on top of the water, or cruising giant figure eight patters throughout the island waterways.
Flirt has an old green John boat, with a 9.9 Evinrude outboard motor pushing it slowly upstream. Up river and under the old bridge, he stops at the bottom of the string of islands where he fishes the big eddie and slack water. The islands tail off and the water becomes deep and stained a dark green. He throws out an anchor and the john boat floats down river a bit until it stops.
He picks up his fly rod, an old, beat up Loomis he inherited from a friend that passed away years ago, and threads a night crawler down, around, and up the shaft of the gold hook. He leaves a bit of the worm dangling from the point of his hook, as to mimic the worm was free and drops the worm in the cold, clear water letting out line slowly by pulling his fly line straight out. The worm drops towards the bottom of the deep hole and continues moving down stream about twenty-five yards until it rests on the gravel bottom.
He picks up a Walmart plastic bag, filled with a bit of ice and pulls out a cold Coors and cracks it open. Leaning back in his ‘captains chair’ he takes a long pull from his beer. Nothing much to look at really, just an old beat up, worn, cushioned chair in the rear, just in front of the motor, and an old man sipping beer, fishing. Other boats move by, some starring a bit at his rig and unconventional fly fishing ways. Mostly nice, expensive boats and skiffs, with big motors or long oars manned by long-time guides and new ones alike. Some slow down, as to respect and not make wake for the old man fishing. Others blow by at high speed, skimming the river’s surface in inches of water with their jet motors roaring and interrupting nature’s way.
He finishes his first beer, seemingly without a care in the world and reels in his fly line. He unthreads his waterlogged worm and drops it in the water thinking, ‘I bet he gets ate before he makes the bridge.” He threads a new, lively night crawler on his hook, sets it gently in the water and lets out line watching it sink downstream about 20 yards in front of the boat. He cracks another Coors and lays back in his chair.
He continues this ritual, like he has nearly every day for the past 10 years. 4 Coors, 4 worms, 4 different spots, fishing a bit closer to the boat with each drop of the worm in the deep hole. He catches a few fish here and there until the sun starts to set and then he floats down stream, under the bridge and starts his motor to load the boat. Most days, he gets off the water around dark, drives home, just a few miles away and rarely takes the time to unhook the trailer.
One Sunday afternoon in a light mist, with fog coming off the water, Flirt, on his third worm and third Coors dozed off in his captains chair. He woke to his Loomis fly rod banging the aluminum welds of his john boat and just like that, his fly rod took off dropped in the cold river and sank to the bottom. He knew, for sure it was Dandy and yearned to hold her just one time. Not today, Flirt. Not today.
“Not today, Flirt. Not today.
Charles Kochel can be found fly fishing the Ozark mountains of Arkansas and Missouri. He enjoys the outdoors, writing, and the culinary backyard arts of smoking.
He’s getting older every day, like the rest of us and time seems to be more important than it once was.
If you want to find him, look in towards the chalk streams for a man wading knee deep, waving cane.
Respect and honor our streams. Water and fish were created by God before man and woman.