My first encounter with a brown trout happened accidentally in October, in Chicago, at Navy Pier. A few restaurants were open there then, otherwise the Pier was in the early stages of rehabilitative construction. I was there to see a friend who was assigned to a docked river-cruising gunboat. When I arrived I noticed a fishing rod on the boat, and a dead, dehydrated worm on the dock. I asked to use the rod, tied the worm to the hook and dropped the bait into the water at the stern of the boat. I sat down to speak with my buds, and suddenly the rod started jumping up and down!
“Very funny,” I exclaimed. I imagined someone was kicking the butt of the rod with a shoe, making the rod bounce. But there was nobody there! It was a fish!?! I grabbed the rod and at the same moment my friend dropped a net. To our amazement, up came a creature from the black lagoon—huge, ugly, stinky, dark, and alive. We put the ancient brown trout into a tub, ran fresh water, and called the television news—located just a few blocks away.
To our surprise a news truck arrived! The reporter told me to pick up the brown, so I did— as if cradling a pine log, using two hands. I was told to hold the fish like a fisherman, by its lip. I objected, saying the fish was a clearly a toxic horror with many pointy teeth. The reporter replied that if I didn’t do as instructed, the fish would not make the weather news. So I stuck my fingers inside the mouth of the beast and held it up with one hand —heavy, huge and horrific. The fish instantly bit my fingers as if they were worms! The camera kept filming, and it made the news. But it didn’t show me—just the fish, my hand and legs, and there was no sound! I thought my chance at achieving 15 seconds of fame had vanished, just like that…
I decided to test my luck again the next weekend, and ventured to the same place to try to catch another monstrosity. To my surprise, the normally quiet pier was crowded with too many anglers to count. Anglers closest to me suddenly sang out and rushed toward me, and this continued down the line. It turns out that the anglers recognized my pants—and wanted me to tell them my fishing “secret”!
My lucky fishing pants were disco-generation-type, bargain-basement, skin-tight polyesters with six colors and four intersection patterns of different-sized rectangles: the ugliest pants I ever saw—very inexpensive. And, apparently, the ugliest pants that many anglers also ever saw on TV weather news. This fashion statement made me recognizable and thus famous!
For 15 minutes of fame, it was really quite excellent to have so many people admire me, my monster brown, and my lucky fishing pants!
Luck is everything… (Alfred Hitchcock)
Lucky Fishing Pants
Paul R. Yarnold, Ph.D.
December 29, 2020