VIEW FROM THE PORCH - Flipsy doodles are dandy, but fish still don't bite

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I went fishing on Rock Creek yesterday -- near Missoula, Mont. It's a world-famous trout stream full of colorful cutthroats and feisty browns, or so they say.

Before I made the six-hour trek from Walla Walla, I checked in with my Montana fishing consultant, Matt. He always catches fish, or so he says.

"Fished Rock Creek a few days ago," Matt said. "Caught fish all day. They're eating gold-ribbed, pink-flossed flipsy doodles in size 10 and 12."

"Gold-ribbed flipsy doodles? I don't think I have any of those."

"They're the latest. Stock up before you come over to Missoula. You won't find one in a fly shop over here. All sold out. They're killer flies! And check out the new flexi-fluorocarbon leaders. They're killer! And get that new fast-action fly line with the kryptonite imbedded in the butt section. That line almost casts itself. It's killer!"

"Really?"

"Water's come down on Rock Creek. The stream is wading easy. Temperatures have finally warmed up. Those fish are hungry. You can't miss, Sam!"

Why did he have to say that?

Before a trout fishing trip, I spend a little time with catalogues.

"Hours," Annie says. "Maybe days ..."

I read them at bedtime and dog-ear the pages that offer "essential" new gear.

"Every page," Annie says.

The catalogues offer the latest in fly-rod technology, the lightest-weight reels, the fancy new wading boots and chest waders, the hexagonal-mesh fishing vest with 48 pockets (including 12 hidden ones -- why you need hidden pockets is beyond me), the newest foam-body flies (including the new gold-ribbed, pink-flossed flipsy doodle), fluorocarbon leaders and tippet, ventilated hats, SPF 741 sunscreen, and polarized sunglasses that spot fish for you.

I have bags full of this stuff.

"Why in the world are you wasting time with those catalogues?" Annie asked, a little irritated.

"This is the latest stuff," I said.

"But you've got bags full of that stuff."

"Not the latest stuff. This new stuff is way better than the stuff I have. Can't go fishing with the old stuff."

"If it worked last year, why wouldn't it work this year?"

"You women don't understand anything, do you?"

"Sam, every year you look at those catalogues and you buy a ton of new stuff and you go fishing in Montana and you never catch anything. Honey, you're wasting a lot of money."

"And every year, you look at those women's catalogues and order a bunch of new clothes when you've got a closetful of clothes already."

"That's different," Annie said.

I ordered a truckload of the new flipsy doodles and called up my friend, Barney, to see if he'd come over and help me haul my fishing gear to the car.

"Sure," he said. "I'll be right over. Hey, you've got those new flipsy doodles, don't you? I hear those things are killer!"

Yesterday morning, I drove up the pot-holed road that runs along Rock Creek looking for the perfect fishing spot. There were fishermen everywhere.

"Having any luck?" I yelled from the car.

"Unbelievable fishing," one fellow yelled back. "You got flipsy doodles, don't you? These fish are nuts for flipsy doodles. I had to switch over and catch fish left-handed for a while. My right arm is wore plum out."

The day was perfect -- warm but not too hot, blue sky, light breeze. I watched a guy battle a big cutthroat downstream from me as I pulled on my new waders, put on my new wading boots, hauled out my new vest with the 48 pockets (I've only found six of the hidden pockets), rigged my new fly rod with a brand-new gold-ribbed, pink-flossed flipsy doodle, and went fishing.

"How was the fishing?" Annie asked last night.

"What kind of question is that?" I huffed.

"Didn't catch anything, did you?"

"They quit feeding on flipsy doodles about the time I got on the stream. But I went to the fly shop after I got back into Missoula tonight. Got a bunch of new flies -- fuzzy, orange-striped whimpering waddlers with the yellow bug eyes. I'll try them tomorrow. Everybody says they're killer."

"Lordy, Lordy, Lordy," Annie said.

If you'd like to read more of Sam's adventures or buy his new book, Big Appetite, visit www.sammcleod.net.

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