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What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

Entries in Becoming an Outdoors Woman (6)


Fish Tales

Wow. April zoomed by without me writing a single blog post. But wait, I have an excuse. I’ve been very busy this past month killing people. At least on paper. As much as I would love to spend all my time braving the great outdoors (okay – not really), I am supposed to be writing mysteries. So the blog was put on hold while I happily worked on several short stories; all of which involved murdering people (who had it coming) in a variety of ways. And I was able to do it while sitting indoors in a climate-controlled, bear-free environment with plenty of access to restrooms, electricity and running water.

But best of all, I was busy with the publication of my first short story, “Amazing Grace,” which appears in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. All of the contributors, myself included, are members of The Guppies – an online chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC). It was a long process from the call for entries, through the judging process, and the search for a publisher until I finally held a copy of the anthology in my hands. That was an exciting moment – especially when I saw that the cover said “22 tales of murder and mayhem from the rising stars of mystery” (I swear my mother didn’t write that).

So what is “Amazing Grace” about? Fly fishing – and how deadly it can be. Not that I would know from personal experience – although I did go fly fishing once and lived to tell the tale (so did the fish).

Becoming an Outdoors Woman – a national program that teaches outdoors skills to women – offered a class on fly fishing at Silver Bay on Lake George in September 2009. Other offerings that weekend included hiking, kayaking, camping, and shooting at things with various types of firearms as well as with a bow and arrow. I chose to go with fly fishing because it is something people find relaxing and are able to enjoy well into old age. So it seemed like that class would be my best bet for success. I was wrong.

The first day started out promising. We were inside, for one thing. And most of the class was spent tying fishing line to flies and to other pieces of fishing line. I’d been sewing for years, so that part was a piece of cake. Eventually we ventured outside to try casting our lines into a big open field. It would have been very surprising if one of us actually landed a fish – given the fact that we weren’t anywhere near the water – so I was still feeling pretty confident at this point.

The next day, however, we cast our lines into an actual body of water, which apparently is your best bet for catching fish. I tried not to be intimidated by the women who’d brought their own gear. I told myself I was interested in finding sincere, down-to-earth fish who aren’t swayed by material things like fancy rods and waders. As those women waded into Lake George until the water reached their armpits, I consoled myself with the fact that there was no way I wanted to catch a fish that badly.  It was at this point that the McDonald’s commercial (Give me back that filet o fish, Give me that fish) kept running through my head and I figured if I didn’t have any luck here I could just hit the drive-thru on the way home.

So I cast my line and was able to catch something on my very first try: the shrubs behind me. Untangling my line from the branches, I laughed as if I meant to do that. And people probably believed me, considering, no matter where I stood, I continued to get my line caught in some form of vegetation with each cast. All. Morning. Long. Then at one point I realized that those knots I thought I was so good at the day before really weren’t all that great because every one of them came untied and I even managed to lose the fly.

The teacher gave me another fly and tied it on for me. Finally I was able to cast the line so it didn’t snag on something behind me, but it hit the water only about a foot from shore. Unless there was a fish who had a sudden urge to take a walk on the beach, I wasn’t going to have much luck. The women who had waded in with all their gear did end up catching some fish. Don’t ask me what kind though; my eyes were too filled with tears from the hook stuck in the palm of my hand to see clearly (and yeah, I meant to do that, too). But given the fishes’ preference for the fancy fishing paraphernalia, I’m guessing they were of a shallow variety.

I’ve decided to chalk the day up to another Adirondack experience. And although it gave me an idea for a short story, I doubt I’ll go fishing again anytime soon. Unless it’s for compliments.



Want to order a copy of Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology? You can order it from Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wildside Press. In the immortal words of Bartle and James, "thank you for your support."

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