Little did these custom rods know what fate had in store for them.
My wife and I got hitched more than a year ago now, and to commemorate
the death of my bachelorhood the blissful pairing, my good buddies Joe and Pete proffered up the best wedding gift I could imagine: two high end reels and two soon-to-be-delivered custom-made rods. Finding those shiny reels among the dinnerware and salad forks was one of the gleaming moments of my adult life, if only because they provided such a welcome respite from tuxedoes and flower arrangements. And knowing that Joe, a guy known locally for producing top-shelf custom rods, would soon deliver a pair of his coveted creations? I was a blissed-out groom.
When Joe called to say they were ready, I was on the way home from a fishing trip with skiff in tow, already late for a family gathering. I quickly stopped by his house, and when he produced the goods I was floored. Each bore my and my wife’s respective names. Hers featured bright red detailing and a plucky redfish, mine glorious blue wraps and a streamlined snook graphic. Both were set off by silver metallic bands, and each was nothing if not beautiful. After many bows and hand-shakes, I started to place them carefully in the carpeted bottom of my skiff, since past experience has taught me that upright rods within towed vehicles live short, unhappy lives. But with Joe looking on, I couldn’t disrespect such glorious handiwork, so into the rod holders they went. You can probably guess where this is going.
I flew home, and as I aimed the trailer into our garage, I heard a vaguely familiar noise, somewhat akin to a dog snacking on Doritos. I stopped the Jeep, stepped out to investigate, and felt my legs go all rubbery. My brand-spanking new rod was bent at an impossible angle under the garage roof, and Abby’s had snapped in two as neatly as a stick of vermicelli, the upper section lying pitifully on the casting deck. I suppressed a wave of nausea, then spent the next 10 minutes with my head in my hands.
To complicate matters, I was scheduled to fish the Everglades with Joe and his brothers the following day. I rehearsed my slightly doctored-up story, then wussed out when I met the group at the ramp before dawn. Joe’s brother Marty was boat-mate that day and I confessed. After a grave period of silence, Marty queried “When are you gonna tell him?”
“Today, for sure”, I replied, with mock confidence. But I didn’t. In fact, it took me several weeks to own up to my crime. Joe was gracious about it, though he did look a little green around the gills for a minute or so. Had we been near some water, I would have submerged his head and rocked him gently back and forth until he showed signs of recovery.
Anyway, I wonder what the readers of this blog (who occasionally mistake me for some sort of authority on the sport) would think about a guy who backed his trailer into his garage without first checking his rods? Likely the same thing they’d think about a guy who t-boned an oyster bar with a skiff at full throttle and spent two unplanned days in the Everglades, fell headlong into a Vermont stream with camera and cell phone in hand, missed 10 consecutive gaffs on a thrashing dorado in the Keys, lodged a Zonker fly neatly into his right ear while fly fishing in 45 mph winds, stuck another favorite rod into a running trolling motor while fighting a redfish, put on a clinic in inept angling in a recent two-day tournament, or slept through half a day’s anticipated offshore trip after dawn-to-dusk libations in a Cabo bar. Not that these are actual incidents, or anything. They’re just hypotheticals I’m using to make a point.