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Advice & More May 2013

Wit and Grit

How Fishing Improves Your Vocabulary

By Mary Stobie

I assure you it’s possible to cast out your bubble and fly thousands of times without catching a fish. This does not mean you are a bad person or that the fishing gods are against you.

What is it about fishing that improves one’s vocabulary?

Yesterday I hooked a fish. After putting up a good fight, he said, “I’m just floundering around.”

“You’re too young to talk,” I said, and threw him back in the stream.

“Sucker,” he shrieked.

Besides instructing me how to tell fish stories, my father attempted to teach me to bubble fly fish years ago. In case you haven’t had experience with this type of fishing, I will briefly explain what little I know. You obtain a rod with a spinning reel, and tie on a clear bubble, half-filled with water. (It is recommended you not to fall into the lake or stream while you are filling the bubble because this annoys the fish.)

After you have filled the plastic bubble half-full, you tie on the leader with the fly. Then you cast out your line into the lake or stream without hooking yourself or your fishing buddies. Hopefully your fly lands lightly on the water as if it were a real fly. Steady as a rock you reel back slowly — very slowly.

I assure you it’s possible to cast out your bubble and fly thousands of times without catching a fish. This does not mean you are a bad person or that the fishing gods are against you.

When the wind comes up and the line appears to be hopelessly tangled the fun begins. You may use words you wouldn’t say to your mother. Then as you work your fingers unknotting your line, your mind is free to wander. As I untangle lines for hours I start thinking about vocabulary words I have torn off my daily calendar — and how they relate to fishing. Here are a few that come to mind:

Abulia: abnormal lack of ability to make a decision. Possibly the fish who circles your bait but doesn’t bite is having a case of abulia.

Petard: a case containing explosives to break down a door or gate or breach a wall. Rumor has it it’s not smart to throw a petard into the stream where you are fishing.
Cliometrics: application of methods developed in other fields to the study of history. As I attempt to straighten out my line, I realize that cliometrics might apply here. I must move my hook through the loops carefully to untangle my fishing line. This might apply to the U.S. Congress when members get tangled up.

Palpable: capable of being touched or felt. There is nothing like the palpable feeling of a fish on the line. It makes your heart thump and brings a smile to your face.

Pastiche: hodgepodge. My tackle box looks like a pastiche of items from my junk drawer.

Celerity: rapidity of motion or action. A fish bites your fly, swims deep under the water, but with celerity breaks your line.

In my case when a fish breaks my line, he sticks his head up above the surface and says, “Thanks for the fly. I love being a Pisces working for scale.”

Now there are many colorful words that fisherman use, many of them shorter than the ones listed above. My father knew them all – mostly with four letters and he spoke them with perfect delivery.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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