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by Del
Rated: E · Short Story · Experience · #1520953
A taste for trout compels strange behavior--naked fishing.
How Phil Came to Fish Naked
         My cousin Carol Stouffer appreciates a good story and likes to laugh.  She laughed a lot as she told this one.  She described a trip into a wilderness area in northern California with her husband Phil during which she returned from a hike to see her relatively new husband standing on shore fishing for trout while stark naked. 
         You need to understand that “wilderness area” describes a large national park or other federal land in which no motorized vehicles are allowed.  One may travel in the area but all belongings must be carried in on your back (or on the back of a pack horse or mule).  There are no stores, very few people, no buildings, no facilities (other than the ground, trees, and lakes and streams).  If you don't have it in your pack, it might as well not exist 'cause to get it meant a trek out AND travel many miles to whatever the desired destination to get what one had lost or discovered was needed.  At the time of this story, these two dear people were relatively inexperienced backpackers and fisher-people.  Let me rephrase that—they were green as grass neophytes and many things an experienced backpacker (and fisherman) would have carried, they left at home.  As we shall learn, the scarcity of a very small thing they should have carried in abundance led to chilling consequences.  They didn't know what they didn't know and were intent on having a good time and did.
         They packed in, set up camp near a lake, and began enjoying themselves.  One of the things they did besides enjoying the scenery was to fish.  Not only did they fish, but they caught.  They weren't just any old fish, they were trout and nothing is more satisfying to the palate than a trout pulled out of the water, flopped onto the shore, and directly into the frying pan (after a bit of cleaning and gutting, of course).  Here is where scarcity drove Phill to do the deed.  They'd brought very few lures and in the normal course of catching lunches and dinners rapidly reduced their supply.  As time went by, the fish came out of the water, went into the pan, and were eaten, but the supply of lures diminished one by one.  The two, however, didn't lose their taste for the fish they'd been catching.  They were DELICIOUS from the water into the pan and into their mouths!!
         When the last lure went they way of most lures that aren't on exhibition in a case somewhere, they had to innovate.  They scrounged through their relatively few things available and found a little red twisty (used to tie plastic bags).  They wrapped it around a hook and VOILA!!  Success!!!! It caught fish.  They were back in the business of satisfying their palates and could continue their cycle of catching and eating fish for noon and night and doing it again the next day. 
         Carol is a born teacher.  Good teaching requires research and her mind is never tired of exploring.  One fine day while she was off learning about what was over the next hill and up the next mountain, completely out of sight of their camp and the bountiful lake, Phil busied himself working on the next meal.  He was doing well until, disaster of disasters, he reeled in a fish and the little red twisty was gone!!  In thrashing and fighting, a trout had unwound the twisty and, while the fish was in hand, the twisty was gone—a dreadful state of affairs for their fish-catching future.  This was a major catastrophe.  Without the twisty, there would be no more fish and they'd be reduced to eating the freeze-dried pablum they had toted in their packs.  As he contemplated the state of the world and its contents from his perch on a large rock above the lake he spied the essential piece of gear in the water—deep enough that there was no way of retrieving the thing without a very, very long retriever—or getting wet.  The terrible loss was, of course, known only to Phi—Carol was  still off exploring above the snow line.
         About the time Phil located the twisty at the bottom of the lake, she was returning.  Just as she could see their campsite and fishing spot Phil dove into the water.  She concluded that he'd lost his mind.  No rational person would swim in a freezing cold lake while alone!  Her mind went to work on exactly what she would have to do about being deep in a wilderness area far from medical assistance with an insane husband on her hands.  He'd clearly gone 'round the bend. 
         High in the mountains where they were the top 18 inches of lake water weren't terribly cold and frigid.  But below that, the water is close to the freezing point.  So, you have a measure of Phil's dedication to getting the job done!!  Carol hurrying “home” watched as Phil, from his large rock perch DOVE into the water, swam down, retrieved the twisty, (but she couldn't know that), SHOT out of the water shivering, cold to the core, and miserable.  He stripped off his clothing and, while his clothes were drying, put the twisty on a hook and went back to fishing—stark naked.  He took off his clothes because evaporation of the moisture in them would make him much colder than he would be if just his skin had to dry.  All very logical when one knows the details but virtually insane if one does not.  It tells volumes about the guy that Carol married and how much he liked to eat trout.
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