I have a friend named Robbie. I was sitting around a campfire when, just up the hill, Robbie was in the act of grabbing a wayward skunk bare-handed (Robbie is a bit of a critter gitter). Needless to say, Robbie got sprayed, his dog got sprayed, and I could smell them downwind from a good half-mile away. As I write this, I can smell that same stench on my soul. I seem to remember Robbie being way more jazzed about it than I am.

Truth be told, I am now on an 0-4 streak, and a little hesitant to get back in the box. The first zero was saltwater, so that shit just happens. Plenty of shots, minimal user error, just weird fish on a weird day. The next three zeroes are the ones keeping me up at night, considering the real-world probabilities and implications of curses, hexes, and other such wizardry. They were on my home turf. My backyard tailwater, that I have guided and fished for close to twenty years, sprayed me with the most foulest of stench. It’s like coming home from a long trip to find your house empty and your family comfortably living with their new Daddy. Disconcerting to say the least. “Was it me? Was it them? Why do I smell like this?”

There are only questions now; the answers are sitting at a new dinner table with your ex-wife.

After a few weeks of contemplation and mental replay, I am no closer to an answer but I have identified some key factors in my current shame spiral.

  • Problem: Complacency. I have become lazy when it comes to my trout. I have been doing it for so long that I have convinced myself what they should be eating and if they aren’t eating that I am all too happy to write the day off to a shitty bite and jump on the oars. The bite may be shitty but someone on the boat usually catches something. That person is usually putting more effort in than myself.
    • SolutionStop being so fucking lazy. It’s time to put back on my big-boy pants and figure some shit out for myself. When one thing doesn’t work, change it. Leader length, weight, flies…something. Keep changing until something works or you hit the take-out.
  • Problem: The Occult. There is a very real possibility that there are paranormal factors at play here. I haven’t personally been skunked on my home waters in literally as long as I can remember, back fishing it after the first year or so. A suicide fish, a trolling it by the boat fish, a fish at the ramp…something. I must have greatly angered the river spirit this time. Eight PBRs in, private property on both sides, and generation to boot…I feel like I had no choice but to deliver that golden shower between your banks, and airmailing that dookie off the back of the boat was life or poopy pants at that point.
    • Solution: Get my karma right. Time to sacrifice the right animal to right deity people. Chicken to Jobu, goat to Kali, cat to Sheba…I am ready and willing to do what is necessarry. I just need to know what to grab on Facebook marketplace and where it’s going. I heard there’s a guy in Florida I can get a kimono dragon from. I’m ready. Also I will be participating a river cleanup before the end of the month just to hedge my bets.

There’s probably plenty of other things conspiring to prolong my residence in the bottom of the fly-fishing barrel. Too much time at home and not enough time on the river, fishing low-success locations looking for one big fish, and maybe even the fact that I’m just not as dialed at this particular moment as I have been in the past. This week I’ll try again, I’ll probably go by myself just to save my friends the awkward silences in the boat regarding my perpetuating stench. I also bought a lot of cartoonish, oversized cans of tomato sauce I’m filling the tub with as I write this. I am open to all options at this point.

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