For millennia it has been customary for men and women going to war to taunt their enemies before battle, and their enemies would taunt them in reply. Sadly, this rich tradition has faded in the modern era. Now, a small but growing cadre of fly anglers are bringing back this proud custom. These are their stories.
David, House Karczynski
In the year 2020, in the third month, on the seventeenth day of the month, then it was that David of the House of Karczynski, from the county of Kalkaska, in the land of Michigan, went to the river to seek his adversary the brown trout. Upon arriving at the river, he lifted up his voice and, raising his rod to the sky, he did taunt the battle lines of the trout.
“O Trutta, of the House of Salmo, I am coming to you this day with flies and rod to draw you up from these waters! So why should you refuse my flies? Come out and let us do battle so that we may see who is the better. Let your gods and my gods this day cast lots; let them examine the leaves and the currents, and see whose omens shall prevail. What bank will you hide under, or what fallen tree will cover you that you should not see my face? Come out to me and take this hook, or else I call you cowards, eggs still stuck to gravel, parr to be eaten by bass, whose heads are cleaved by herons. May the ravens pick out my eyes and devour my liver if this day I do not make you swim sideways upon the surface of the waters that I might plainly see your spots. I, David, son of Stanislav, of the house Karczynski, do call you to battle this day.”
The trout, having heard this challenge, left his bank and swam out to meet David. Pausing behind a rock, he raised his snout to the surface, and this was his reply.
“O David of the House Karczynski, who are you and why are you here? Has your mother become so lame that she can no longer close her gate? And now you come to me like one of the empty-headed men who quarrel in the public square for crumbs of bread. Will you put your face into the waters like a merganser that you might see me? You would choke! Do you have the tail of an otter that you might part the waters andfind me? I would slap you with my tail. Return to your place and leave me, for I have heard that your mother has grown cold. Indeed the kingfisher says she is attended by men not your father, if indeed you know who he is. Take your rod and your hooks and go, or else I shall come out and show you a thing or two.”
But David did not consent to depart from him. Casting his fly, he induced the Trout to take it, and though the Trout did battle fiercely and gamely, but David did bring him to hand. Then David, taking pity upon the Trout, for he did fight well, returned him to the waters that he may swim free, and did retire from those waters until a further time.