Four days later it
was still raining. The old guy down at the store where we bought the licenses
said he'd never seen it rain so much at this time of the year. Jim asked if
he'd ever heard about the time it rained four days straight in New Mexico.
When we asked him
where the trout were hiding, he told us we'd find them where we found them.
"But you might
try the Missisquoi," he said.
Back at the house,
we were looking over the Vermont Fish and Game map when it hit me.
what, Jim," I said. "We ought to hire ourselves out. We could push the
Sahara into the Med if we showed up in Ouagadougou with fishing poles in hand.
Turn Arizona into blue-grass country. All we have to do is plan to do some
fishing in these places. Soon as we get off the plane—whoosh—it starts raining
and doesn't stop until we leave. We charge them a fortune and catch up on a
Sometimes when we
fish we'll each take a side of a stream instead of leapfrogging. That's how we
fished the Missisquoi that afternoon. Which is how I came to be standing across
from Jim on a bend, dunking worms below me in a deep channel that cut into the
soft bank. Jim shook his head when I whisper-asked if he'd had any luck. Then I
saw him eyeing this tree that had fallen into the steam, creating a good pool
below its branches. There was only one way to fish it—and by now you probably
realize Jim and I will try anything when it comes to trout. Dignity, reason,
fair play have all been slashed and bashed away—leaving two guys who'd fish
naked with Christmas tree bulbs as bobbers if we thought we'd get more
So I knew he was
going out on that limb even before he did. And I was glad I was on my side of
the river. Otherwise I'd be out there with him now. He was inching along the
wet bark, holding his pole out in one hand, his right arm around the trunk,
muddy water boiling below him.
I was fishing
around in my bait can for a new worm when I heard the crack. The tree had
shifted, and there was Jim dangling like a sloth a few inches above the water.
Both arms and legs were clamped around the trunk, one hand holding the pole.
His shoulder creel was in the water, ballooning out like a sea anchor in the
At first he had me
worried. But I think I told you Jim can take a joke. Next thing, he was
laughing so hard I figured the tree was going to shake free, and I was in the
wet grass clutching my sides. First, he'd howl, then lose his breath—then I'd
catch mine and start laughing again until we were both gagging and sobbing, and
all the time Jim was hanging upside down from this tree, and I couldn't imagine
That went on for
five minutes, the longest I ever laughed at one stretch. Finally I got my
breath, heard nothing from Jim to set me off again, parted the grass and asked
him if he was O.K.