The Winter Olympics....
Once again the fishing world has been ignored.
As I sit watching a spine tingling, heart thumping, always tension packed Olympic Curling event competition, I can't help but wonder why a fishing event has never been represented in the Olympics.
What are they trying to say?
Are they saying that there is no athletic prowess involved when trying to flick a #12 Adams to a 20 inch ring created by the kiss of an 18 inch Rainbow trout!
Is the firing of a high powered rifle after skiing around on a pair of wooden planks any more demanding than fording a riffle packed stream and tossing a chunk of powerbait deftly into the "honeyhole" pocket containing an 8 inch stocker?
I see no difference.
But then I'm an idiot.
Or am I? Let's at least take a look at some future options for the winter Olympics, that can finally give the fisherman his due when it comes to skill and athleticism....
1) What event shows stamina and grit more than ice fishing? I propose a winter Olympic event that is comprised of ice fishing. In this event, contestants will be timed on their ability to saw a hole in 8 to 10 inches of a frozen lake surface, run in sneakers across the frozen ice to a designated staging area where they will grab up a rod, and stool, and sprint back across the ice to the open hole, bait up, and sit for hours in a fierce northern wind. The athlete then will hopefully, eventually catch a fish, pull his fish from the ice hole, drop it in a bucket, and sprint again across the ice, into a 1975 Ford pick- up truck, drive across the finish line to the cheers, flag waving,and cow bell jingling of his fellow countrymen.
More challenges? Perhaps a couple of fellas name Swen and Ole can sit across from the contestant and constantly be throwing a verbal barrage of "You Betcha's" and "Don't ya know's" at the athlete, as he or she agonizingly attempts to coax a fish out of the water.
Talk about grit!!
Of course the Norwegian contingent might not have a problem with this and be at a decided advantage.HOW do you say "you betcha" in Norwegian anyway?
We will all watch as the hole starts to skim over with ice,and the athlete frantically chips away at the hole to keep it ice free.All the while precious time clicks away as the fish only nibbles at the bait.
They can even hold this event indoors at the Olympic Hockey or Figure Skating venues. It might even make the hockey games more interesting with a few holes in the ice, and figure skating?PLEASE... a double axle into a gaping hole in the ice will add more excitement than Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan living in the same trailer park. Or they can leave a few frozen fish on the ice to help add to the Olympic ambiance.
The events could also easily be held as a "two man" competition with one athlete fishing, while the other builds an ice shack.
If the extreme thrill of the Downhill is your cup a tea, imagine if they hold the event on thin melting ice. The now famous runs of Franz Klammer and Hermann Maier will pale in comparison to the crackling of ice beneath the ice fisherman's stool as he scrambles for shore before disappearing into the frigid waters.
Talk about the agony of defeat....
2)Boat Slalom. Never mind the luge, bobsled, or skeleton(which at first glance appear to require the two major athletic skills of courage and alcohol), try standing up in a drift boat while running a classIV rapid with a 40 pound salmon stripping line off of your reel, hell bent for return to the ocean. Yes, athletes in ten layers of clothing including the mandatory flannel outer jacket, will try to stay afoot while "the driver" navigates the boulder choked channel of a stream. Not only are the contestants timed in this event, but style points are given for the degree of difficulty the athlete shows while doing "gunnel grabs", "spins", and the ever popular "aerials". Throw in a number of slalom gates, and you have the making of an event made for television. Fall in or lose your salmon, and it's sorry Charlie--see you in four years.
"OOOHHH, tough break Vern--Elwood has been training all his life for this moment, and to see it all go overboard in one instant is heartbreaking...."
3) No offense to our Canadian friends north of the border, but --CURLING!!! CURLING!! A combination of bowling on ice and a group of shop keepers trying to keep the storefront spiffy.
Gawd, the winters must be awful up there.
Outside of the obvious "sex appeal"of the Olympic Curling events, the only thing more thrilling would be to watch Dick Cheney go quail hunting.
But, given that there is a place on the podium for chiseled curling athletes, I'm sure we could find a spot for the skilled athleticism of the Winter Fly Tying Team ! This event would obviously be dominated by the American squad, which has trained year round in a meat locker in Detroit. Size #28 midge after miserable size #28 midge, the Americans have relentlessly been training, by tying these little buggers to 8x tippet--in a meat locker kept at 14 degrees below zero.
That's minus 26 celsius for our European competitors.
There at the Olympic Fly Tying arena, in frigid weather, teams of fly tiers will take to the vice, and tie up various flys. We will watch pained expressions and complete intense concentration as athletes try to get their fingers to work in the icy cold. We will hold our breath as they try to get the hackle and dubbing just right. Precious time will tick away as they blow on their hands, and we watch split screen images of just where the Olympic hopefuls lost time along the way.
Of course,in this two day event, athletes will be judged on speed, style,difficulty, and the ability to catch and release fish.
So, here's to the athletes of the XX th Olympiad, and I will see you fishing rod in hand, in Vancouver in 2010.
A.J. Klott Author, writer of fishing humor,and "fly tack" peddler. A.J. writes about the people,characters and modern day events that surround the fishing world. His first book is due out in December of 2005. If you need a laugh or a fun gift, visit his website at: http://www.twoguyswithflys.com
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