Along the Trail: Flies
The past two weeks have been all about salmon: fishing and studying salmon. Middle River has literally been crawling with those interested in salmon: anglers, biologists, First Nations, and curious onlookers. It has been a very hectic two weeks and our little cabin has been bursting at the seams with those engaged with the annual run of salmon to the Baddeck and Middle Rivers. Some of my angling fraternity have been part of the fall season since 1983 without missing a single year. It is strong testimony to madness.
As we spent one evening tying flies, my memory drifted back to an evening many years ago when we were similarly engaged: tying flies, telling lies, enjoying a libation or two. The libation or two would prove to be my undoing.
As we talked and tied and watched a ballgame on TV, all excellent distractions, I got busy tying a “PINK GD.” In those days we used huge, barbed, double hooks. They were big enough and sharp enough to snare a whale. If you know anything about hooks, a 2/0 is a very big creation.
With so many distractions, the inevitable happened. It was my scattered personality at its predictable worst. I had mistakenly put the double with the second hook on the inside of the vise, rather that the outside. As I yakked and watched TV, suddenly I had a bite! I had dragged my index finger across the protruding hook and drove the barb deep into the finger, deep being the operative word. There was no way to extract it, so it was off to the old Baddeck hospital for professional help.
Dr. Genge was on call and was summoned to my rescue. As I sat in the little, crowded waiting room, the very polite, mostly highland Scots, went to great pains NOT to mention this pink thing waving in the air. Most of the other waiting patrons had no idea of salmon flies but were much too polite to ask just how it came to be that I had a huge pink hook deeply embedded in my finger. Someone would peek over and if I saw them looking, would immediately engage me in conversation. “How’s Ann, is she working?” “How is Emily getting along in school?” “Great stretch of weather…’’ “Busy at work yourself?” All the time, as I answered and emphasized by waving my hands, no one, absolutely no one, brought my attention to the pink thing. It was “error by omission.”
Waiting rooms being waiting rooms, it was a while before Dr. Genge and nurse Helen Macrae got to administer help to my now swollen finger. As people came and went, the exchange was repeated time after time. “How’s Ann” etc. To a man (and woman) no one ever mentioned the very large, slightly blood soaked pink thing waving at the end of my index finger. It was politeness in the extreme.
Finally, the good doctor and nurse froze the finger and pulled out the offending, partly finished creation. Neither the fly nor finger suffered long-term damage. A little bandage and we were good to go. I don’t remember if the fly ever hooked a salmon, but it hooked a lot of people for one long, dark evening.