The Main Event

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee ... Muhammad Ali

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The story you are about to hear was inspired by an actual event. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.



"Good evening fishing fans. I'm Jim Lamprey. I'm here with Larry Perchant and we're standing beside the Square Pool of the Waugh River on a calm and moonless midnight in mid-May. Larry, we're only seconds away from the main event so to very briefly summarize a pre-fight interview with both participants we have learned that the champion's game plan will be to bide his time until he determines the odds are on his side. And the challenger's somewhat poetic formula will be one of stealth and temptation, teasing, taunting and variation. Whatever the outcome, both Larry and I agree that tonight's contest is all about respect. Now, while we still have time, let's quickly cover the rules. Under Colchester County rules the ten-point must system is in effect, there is no three knockdown rule, no standing eight count and neither competitor can be saved by the bell. And now let's go into the ring for Michael Puffer's formal introduction of tonight's two warriors."

A backwater brown-bodied bullfrog belches and a distant cowbell clangs twice.

A dignified, bow-tied Puffer glides to the microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, and to those millions around the world watching on television, Earltown Productions and Kon Ding Promotions, in association with Bootlegger, the undisputed king of beers, proudly presents the main event of the evening."

"The three judges assigned to poolside are Bubba Bass from Loon Lake, Buster Brookie from Ferguson Brook and Sammy Salar from Tatamagouche. The poolside physician is Dr. Riddick Rain-Bow, a fish-farm escapee from Cape Breton."

"And when the bell rings the man in charge of the fight, working his fifty-second world title match, and fresh from his spawning grounds, Siiiiiiiid Sucker." The television camera pans to Sid who mouths the words, "Love ya ma."

"And now ladies and gentlemen, from the Square Pool on the Waugh River, by way of Colchester County, Nova Scotia Canada...Lllllllllets get ready to rumblllllllle."

"Twelve rounds of fishing for the unnnndisputed welterweight championship of the world."

"Introducing first, fighting out of the red corner, from the village of Seasick, wearing olive camouflage chest waders, weighing in at 138 pounds, with this years outstanding record of eighty-eight wins, all released, and no losses, we have the challenger, the indomitable Paddy, Drrrryfly, O'Donohoe."

Dryfly spins in his corner, arms aloft, his seven-foot, four-weight rod clenched like a pirates sword between his teeth. Gaggles of Canada Geese pronounce their displeasure with a series of loud honks.

"And his opponent across the ring, fighting out of the blue corner, by way of Loch Leven, currently residing in Taylor's Lake, wearing his all-together, weighing in at four pound four ounces, with this years record standing at nineteen wins, all by knockout, no losses, we have the welterweight champion of the fish world, Booooomer Brown Trrrrout."

Boomer lifts himself to the surface and tailwalks through the pool, his pectoral fins raised towards the night sky. A pair of mergansers squatting on the shingle eagerly eye the sushi feast, and a Great Horned Owl, perched in the catbird seat, hoots at his intended victim.

The bulbous-headed Sid Sucker brings the contestants to the center of the pool, enquires as to whether they have any questions, and insists they rub noses before returning to their corners.

Let's get it on!

A bat family sprints upriver like greased lightning. The cowbell rings again.

Dryfly, facing downstream, takes one quiet step forward with a number eight Muddler on his four-pound Maxima tippet. This, he has decided, will be his Muhammad Ali strategy. He's going to dance his medium size fly throughout the pool hoping to counter-attack any lunges with a series of teasing touches and wait for that exact moment to strike hard when his opponent has been lulled into feeling he's up against a powderpuff. Dryfly starts to cover the pool.

Behind a black boulder Boomer watches the Muddler twitching six inches to his right and waits until it moves forward before making a slow feint. Dryfly thinks he sees the tiny bulge and drops the Muddler back in a series of Ali shuffles. Boomer repeats his move and then slides in back of another boulder. Dryfly tries the same approach but, when nothing happens, guesses that Boomer has moved and starts to cover the pool again. Boomer, sensing the odds are about fifty-fifty, plays possum and totally ignores the Muddler. End of round one. A ten-nine round for Dryfly on all of the judge's scorecards.
"Well, Larry, what are your thoughts on that first round?" inquires Jim.
"Ummm. A rather unremarkable opening for both participants. A 'feeling out' round in my humble opinion. Tactical, in view of the conditions and poor lighting. By the way Jim, do you know where I put my night-vision glasses?"

Dryfly changes the tippet to six-pound and ties on a number two zonker-strip mouse. This will be Dryfly's George Foreman approach to the problem. He's going to slug it out. Dryfly awkwardly flips the mouse on to the opposite bank and then tugs it into the pool. Boomer feels the sound wave strike his lateral line but it is not until the third pass that he eyes the large wake and the tail of the mouse and cannot resist the primal urge to make a lunge. He charges up from behind the boulder and is within one inch of it when he realizes it is not the real thing. In the blink of an eye he adopts a Smokin' Joe peekaboo defence and bustles behind another boulder. Dryfly sees the surface bulge and strikes hard. The wet mouse flies out of the water and hits him on the forehead, just above the right eye. The hollow thonk echoes downriver. He spins around, he stumbles, he goes down. The referee starts his count. At eight Dryfly dizzily raises himself from the river. The referee looks into his eyes and asks if he wishes to continue. Dryfly nods his head, although he is seeing a lot more stars in the sky than before he went down. End of round two. The judges rightfully score this a ten-eight round for Boomer.

"I thought I'd seen it all, Jim. But to knock yourself down is a first for me, and I'm sure it will be recorded for posterity in the annals of boxing history. It reminds me of the time I shot myself in the foot, but that was along time ago. The question is, can Dryfly continue with his present strategy?"
"I have to agree, Larry. I've seen double knockouts and referees propelled out of the ring but never this. In the foot, Larry?"
"It's a long story, Jim."

Dryfly wobbles to the shingle and sits down. He ponders on what happened. He feels like he's been painted into a corner and has no choice but to take another tack and employ his Sugar Ray Leonard approach. Hands atremble, he changes the six-pound tippet to two-pound and ties on a beautiful imitation of a number ten Whitlock hopper. His stomach rumbles. He takes this to be an omen because he knows if he were a trout he would eat the hopper in a flash. He decides to fish the fly on a downstream drift with an occasional twitch of the line along the way. Feet slightly apart he hunches over, takes a deep breath and quietly utters his mantra ... "Heeere fishyfishy, heeere fishyfishy." His first cast covers the right bank and the fly looks so real on the drift that he knows he has to be prepared. His anticipation is high. Nothing on the right bank, now for the left. Nothing again. His teeth are clamped so tightly that his jawbones crackle as he forcibly opens his mouth. He makes a cast to the center lane. The hopper plops into the water.

Boomer cannot help himself. However, instinct tells him that this is what he's been waiting for; Dryfly has crossed the threshold and stepped into a lower weight class. Boomer streaks from behind his boulder and hits the fly with such a vicious Tyson-like uppercut that he cartwheels above the pool. A belly flop adds to the awesome acrobatics. Dryfly, although he knew it was coming, was flabbergasted by such a display and did absolutely nothing. It wasn't until Boomer made his downward thrust that Dryfly set the hook. Boomer felt the small sting and immediately knew he was in control. He held fast a foot ahead of a sharp edged boulder until he felt Dryfly applying pressure. He hung on until he could visualize the little seven-foot rod bent in half, and then, in a flash, made his move around the boulder. The two-pound tippet snapped.

Dryfly had both hands on the rod and couldn't prevent himself from going down for the second time, landing hard on his tailbone and causing a fart measuring 5.4 on the rectal scale to discharge into his waders. He sits, legs rubberized, up to his waist in the water, waving his rod in a gesture of surrender and muttering (in the words of Roberto Duran), "No mas, no mas."

Sid Sucker's slippery lips and paddling pectorals dramatically proclaim an end to the contest.

Boomer, tailwalking in a neutral corner with the hopper hanging from the side of his mouth, turns his pectoral fins outwards towards the spectators, a-la Mike Tyson, as if to say, "Well what did you expect."

Michael Puffer slides into the ring, raises Boomers pectoral fin and declares ... "The official time, two minutes thirty-one seconds of the third round, winner by a knockout, and still welterweight champion of the world, Boooooomer Brown Trrrrout."

"An amazing turn of events, Larry. Boomer showed why he holds the belt. His skill and fortitude is to be admired in these dark days of the sport. I felt conditioning played a major factor. Dryfly looked a little unsteady, perhaps, like you, his age was showing."
"Yes Jim, although I think you mean it's a really dark night, and I never did find my glasses. A superlative performance perpetrated by a personal friend of mine. A gentleman who is to be admired outside as well as inside the ring. You can be sure there will be a celebratory Ceiligh tonight, joined by Boomer's several hundred kilt-wearing offspring. You're right Jim, I am getting old, let's go home, it's way past my bedtime."

Tales Casting contest I Tangier River I Boyhood memories I Newfie salmon I Muddler's memories I Does a bear? I First ever salmon I The Tickmobile
U-Fish I 4 a.m. I Lyin seasun I Anecdotes I Fishgirl salmon I A natural fly I Main Event I Honeymoon I Vernon I Leslie I Coyote? I Newfie trout

Pat Donoghue, Canada, ©1997