THE TALLEST TALE:
Romeo
by Bob Davis

From Island Waters Flyfishers Tall Tales contest - website: http://www.members.shaw.ca/iwff/
I love fly fishing. The problem is I'm terrible at casting and that's what it's all about. Hours of practice sessions on the beach have left my line in wind-knots the size of baseballs. I've managed to hook every conceivable part of my body and only thank God that I had the foresight to pinch the barb. So while the rest of you are effortlessly flinging your shrimp flies out 80 to 100 feet to be eagerly swallowed by huge pink and coho salmon, I flail around on the outskirts, hoping to be ignored when I inevitably do something idiotic.
For most of the summer, I fretted about how to overcome this failure. One day, while reading one of my grandchild's comic books (as practice for when he comes to visit), I noticed an ad for "sea monkeys". Many of you may remember these ads from the times that you read comics. Well, I happen to know that these creatures aren't really monkeys but are, in fact, brine shrimp. An idea began to percolate in my brain as I hastily sent off an order for these critters.
Ten days later, after checking the mailbox eagerly each day, I was rewarded with a special package that was hastily carried out to my workshop. Inside were the magic ingredients and directions on how to produce my very own colony of "sea monkeys". They couldn't fool this cowboy, but I followed the directions to the T. Three days later, I was rewarded with a fish tank full of baby brine shrimp.
During the weeks leading up to their arrival, I had been preparing the second part of my plan: a brine shrimp harness capable of having the little animals carry a hook. Now that they had arrived, it was time to do the final adjustments. This wasn't easy, and required a special trip to London Drugs to get some extra strong magnifying glasses.
Once the harness and hook had been fitted to a brine shrimp, a new problem became apparent.
Brine shrimp are incredibly weak little suckers and even the tiniest hook would nail a brine shrimp solidly to the floor of the aquarium, incapable of the slightest movement. My plan required a lot of movement.
For a few days, I was unable to think of a way around this dilemma. But early one morning, I awoke with a start, rummaged in my bedside dresser and rushed out to the workshop and the aquarium. In my hands was a package of Viagra. This had been a joke gift, I think, from my wife a few months earlier. I crushed one of the tablets and mixed it into the tank.
This first experiment was a disaster, with all the brine shrimp dying in a big mass that was impossible to separate into individual bodies. Three batches of shrimp later, I had found the perfect dosage to get the energy and strength levels that I was looking for. One brine shrimp in particular, a big brute that I called Romeo, took very well to the hook harness and was able to do lengths in the bathtub without tiring. I grew quite fond of him and gave him special treats.
By the time that the pinks were showing up at Nile Creek, my preparations were complete. I hopped in the car with my rod in one hand and Romeo's travel jar in the other. He seemed to enjoy wearing the hook harness, which was just as well since he had grown so large that it was permanently welded to his body. A light weight leader was attached to a ring on the back of the harness, beside the hook.
The beach was busy that morning and the pinks had moved well offshore, beyond the reach of all but the expert caster. Most fishermen were standing on the beach looking wistfully out to sea where a fish would periodically leap from the water.
I walked confidently out. I knew that Romeo would swim out looking for a mate and would eventually be grabbed by one of the pink salmon. Pretending to make casting motions, I dropped Romeo furtively into the water and the line began to whizz off my reel. My knuckles were smacked a couple of times by the handle spinning at full speed.
To my horror, Romeo didn't stop to mate and wasn't snared by a fish before all of my backing was off the reel. I felt myself being dragged into deeper water. Suddenly, the leader gave way and the line went limp. Thank goodness; it would have been a terrible way to die.
Later, I learned that brine shrimp are from the waters off Japan, and will only mate with their own kind. Romeo had seen his opportunity and had made a run for it, to find a mate on the other side of the Pacific. I think about the little sucker sometimes and hope that he made it.
Back on the beach, the other fishermen offered me condolences. They thought I had lost a big fish based on the sound of the reel whizzing and the rod bent into a C shape. Carefully, I searched my pocket for another shrimp and harness.
Damn, I'd forgotten them at home. All I had was one leftover Viagra pill. What the hell, I thought, tossing it down my throat.
Just as I finished reeling in all my line and attaching a regular fly, I felt a strange urge. I wanted to cast and I wanted to cast long and straight. Whipping back my rod, I sent cast after cast shooting out 100 feet. And I found that I could keep it up for hours.
So now I know the secret of the long casters, and the rest of you lousy casters know it too. My wife is very proud of my new abilities
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