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MailTribune.com
  • Otis never told me about this!

  • With spring in the air, I couldn't help but recall a day spent with the grandkids at a local pond last March.
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  • With spring in the air, I couldn't help but recall a day spent with the grandkids at a local pond last March.
    I cut my fly-fishing teeth on many such ponds under the patient tutelage of a local expert named Otis Swisher, and I felt it was fitting that I take my grandkids out to pass along the experience.
    Many local fly fishers have seen — and have been gifted by — one of the famous Otis flies, the yellow-foam spider. It's easy to tie and floats like the USS Enterprise.
    Now the kids aren't quite ready for fly rods, so we outfitted their 3-foot Spider-Man and Scooby-Doo poles with a bubble and the foam fly.
    The first hour wasn't much fun, untangling lines and retrieving flies from the trees. But after awhile, they figured it out and started catching some fish. When I could resist no longer, I snuck back to the pickup, grabbed my fly rod and rejoined the kids.
    On my third cast, a 2-inch bluegill ate the spider. After I nursed the fish back to shore, he frantically started to swim in circles as I leaned down for the release. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two large, dark shadows lurch out from under the weed bed. The little bluegill reacted quickly, dashing out to deeper water with two bass predators in hot pursuit. Within seconds, I felt a much different sensation from my rod tip.
    What to do? Otis never told me about this! Now I was fishing with live bait, a very big "no-no" around here. Very gingerly, I began to ease my line (and plural fishes) back to shore. I began to wonder which way the bass had mouthed the bluegill? If the little guy went in headfirst, perhaps the spiny dorsal fin might hang up in the mouth of the bass?
    Slowly they emerged from the weed bed, and I stooped down to take a look. Two huge eyes returned my stare. Suddenly the "Jaws" theme song started pounding in my ears. Just another foot or so "¦ I never saw a mouth open so wide, and out popped my little friend.
    We got him resuscitated, and I apologized profusely. Little Jonah swam away, but I doubt he'll ever try another spider.
    The kids, the bluegill and I learned some valuable life lessons that day:
    1) Always expect the unexpected;
    2) Just because you're small doesn't mean you quit when danger lurks;
    3) The Otis spider REALLY works.
    Jacksonville resident Ken Bonsi is a member of the Rogue Flyfishers.
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