Jim Mize often hooks things that give him pause and occasionally a fish.
By Jim Mize
Fall colors painted the landscape as the tree leaves changed to gold and crimson. Students were back in school, many of them having spent summer days tubing and rafting on the stream I fished. No fish were feeding on top so I passed the time dredging the bottom with weighted nymphs.
When nymph fishing, I generally let the flies touch bottom and I can feel the tick of rocks and routinely get hung. On occasion I will catch caddis casings on the tip of my hook as the flies drag across rocks. Other times, it may be no more than a bit of vegetation or a small stick.
So when my rod slowly began to bend, I wasn’t terribly surprised as this happened often enough. When I lifted the rod in response, my line began to move away from the bottom and into the current.
I can’t say that what I hooked fought exactly; it was more like it caught the current and swerved. It had enough weight to bend my rod and didn’t bound to the top like a stick would have upon release from the bottom. It did finally come up and I pulled it in, finding that I had caught a pair of underwear.
Now I have caught some amazing objects in streams before. I once caught a shoe just like characters in cartoons have. I have caught fishing line or leader, pulling it in and finding a fish attached. And I have caught all manner of trash ranging from cans to trash bags. But I have to admit that catching underwear was a first for me.
My initial reaction was to look around for someone missing their underwear. I began to think about the circumstances that might cause underwear to be lost and none of them involved activities likely to be sanctioned by the owner’s momma. To quote humorist Lewis Grizzard, “Naked means you don’t have any clothes on and nekkid means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to something.” This person had likely been nekkid and may still be.
My next order of business was to unhook my catch. The thought of what to do afterwards left me in an ethical dilemma. I was fishing in a catch-and-release stream, so if I simply turned the underwear loose was it a sporting release or was I littering?
While taking the underwear off I had another observation. This pair was my brand. Furthermore, they were my size. More amazing still, they were the color I was wearing. I began to wonder if I had somehow lost my underwear yet I knew that would be next to impossible without even taking off my waders, much less my pants. Still, I was inclined to check just to be sure.
So now my ethical dilemma evolved into another option, namely, whether it was legal to keep underwear caught in a catch and release stream?
I had never seen underwear listed in fishing regulations but if there was a trophy exemption for keeping them it might be allowed. I confess I am trophy-sized, something my doctor reminds me of at each checkup.
Standing waist-deep in the stream watching the water flow by I knew I had to somehow make a decision. The first conclusion I came to was that I had gotten up too early and it was affecting my mind. The second was to dispose of the underwear at the first dumpster and get back to fishing as quickly as possible.
Who knows, now that I knew I was this guy’s size, I might be able to expand my wardrobe. Especially if this guy had been nekkid.