As I approach Friday Ė which I have become to think of as D-Day, or my personal Waterloo, I canít decide which Ė the anticipation and dread just grows and grows.
Yes, Friday at 9 p.m. (there was a schedule change) Iíll be making my television debut on the program Fly Fishing America on the Outdoor Life Network, Cox Cable channel 48. Thereíll be encore performances at 1 a.m. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Monday. Thatís for my visit to Montana to fish with Blackfeet member Joe Kipp. The following weekend, Feb. 10-12, same times, will be when Joe came to fish with me here in Louisiana.
Now that the shameless publicity plug is done, I can honestly tell you I donít know if Iím going to make it through this alive.
As you well know, I believe in signs and omens. At first I was pretty pumped up, because I made it to Montana and back without a plane crashing or getting ate by a grizzly. Then, as I was awaiting the Louisiana shoot, two hurricanes rolled through and fouled things up pretty badly for everyone, to some degree me.
But we made it through that, and up until last week, the show was on OLNís schedule twice on Friday nights, a double showing! Then, all of a sudden, as my debut nears, they cut it back to once that evening. This is, in my book, a bad omen.
"Hey, is that Stouff show coming up?" OLNís executive in charge of scheduling asks.
"Yup, two weeks," an underling replies.
"Hmm," the exec says. "I dunno about all this. I mean, do you think the world can take him twice in one night?"
"He wasnít that bad," the underling says in my defense.
"Bad?" the exec wonders. "No, not bad. But heís no Brad Pitt."
Brad Pitt, you may or may not recall, was star of A River Runs Through It, the story of author Norman Macleanís early years with his family fly fishing on the Big Blackfoot River in Montana. I do know I am no Brad Pitt, donít worry. Tom Skerrit, who played Pittís dad, is more like it. A quite dignity of intellect. Yeah, thatís me.
This may or may not have come through during the Montana filming when, on my first cast, I snagged a weed with my backcast trying to push fly line through a 30 mile per hour wind; or as I was learning to walk through a rushing stream without my knees popping out from underneath me; or climbing back up a ravine, huffing and puffing with then-smokerís lungs and wondering if theyíd let me be buried right there, or at the very least, anytime anyone mentioned the word "bear" jumping completely out of my waders in terror.
Waders was a whole Ďnuther story. I never wore waders until I got to Montana. Putting waders on must be similar to how medieval knights put on suits of armor. It was quite an adventure. Then I had to get wired for audio, with a lapel microphone and transmitter tucked into my waders, which have a pouch just under the chest part for storing a repair kit should the waders spring a leak. I wondered what would happen if my waders sprang a leak, since I was carrying a microphone transmitter and not a repair kit. I made a mental note to myself that, should I ever do a television show that required me being wired for audio in a life raft, the repair kit stays where it belongs.
Once you got into your waders, you had to put boots over the stocking feet. Waders have stocking feet, sort of like, reminding me a lot of some pajamas I had when I was pre-K. I checked to make sure the waders didnít have a flap opening in the behind. That would have been intolerable. Once you got your boots on, you were ready to go fishing. You jaunt on down to the stream and get into the water quietly, fishing upstream. The water is cold as the dickens, but thatís how trout like it, up to about 50 degrees.
You throw your fly line into a 30-mile per hour wind, and assuming it actually goes where you want it to, which is about one in every 10 casts for people like me who fish stillwater and stay home when itís too windy, the current carries it toward and behind you in about three seconds flat, so you have to pick up line and do it all again, watching this churning water for this tiny little dry fly that might get taken by a trout.
Well, as it happens, it all works. Honestly and truly by some miracle, it all works and the next thing you know, a 16-inch rainbow is on the other end of the line, and well, to tell you the truth, it made all the wader issues, hiking issues, bear fears and possibility of behind flaps worth while.
Iíd be honored if youíd catch my show and drop me a line to let me know how you liked it. That is, unless it really is very bad, in which case you wonít be able to find me anyway, since Iíll have moved to Walla Walla.