Jim Ferrier – A Tale of a Red Tag

Story Told By: Names withheld to protect the guilty

The day was about finished on Little Pine. The fly life had dwindled to the very odd dun and boats were returning to the ramp. Congregated on the shore were a few regulars who were discussing the day’s results when the last boat rounded Bertram’s Island.

It was obvious that the anglers aboard had something to say, or rather one angler had something to say and he was saying it loud, long and vehemently. The other, steering, was keeping his head down.

As the boat grounded, the voluble angler redoubled his tirade and it became obvious that his intemperate remarks were aimed at his boating partner.     

He described the steersman, his predecessors and his antecedents in minute detail and in the most uncomplimentary terms. When he got to casting skills, he became almost incoherent.

It was only when he stopped for breath, it was discovered the he had been hooked, well beyond the barb, in the lobe of his ear, by a size 12 red tag belonging to his fishing partner.

One of the shore party sized up the situation and trotted off to his car for pliers to remove the barb but the steersman, owner of the fly, objected. It had done great execution that day and he wanted it for the future. This only increased the bad temper and volume of the afflicted one.

Two bystanders conferred quietly and having produced a small loop of nylon, one snared the fly at the bend while the other pressed down on the eye. All this was unnoticed in the general turmoil. A sharp flick of the loop and the fly came out without fuss or pain and it was handed to the patient.

He looked at the fly, felt his ear to confirm that it was fly-free and there was a long silence.

The steersman, owner of the fly quickly reclaimed his Red Tag and, pleased to have it undamaged, carefully returned it to his fly box.

The owner of the pliers returned ready to operate but was disappointed to find the crisis over, which was probably just as well as the rusty condition of the pliers could well have caused serious secondary complications.

Somewhat grudgingly, peace was restored and the parties adjourned to the Fly Fishers Club of Tasmania (FFCT) fishing shack (Noonamena) where liberal libations to the angling gods soon restored equanimity.

The people involved: 

The vocal one- A tall, silver haired, former long-time secretary of FFCT.

The helmsman- The vocal one’s permanent, joined at the hip, partner in crime and legendary fishing exploits.

The removers of the fly- A well-known Scotsman, taking a break from raking the bottom at Penstock; and his mate, an English Geezer.

The disappointed plier owner – owner of a neighboring shack and inventor of a famous Highland Dun pattern.

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