Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Voices from the Past: Will H. Dilg

Many collectors know the name Will Dilg from the Heddon fly rod lure named after him. But for a generation of outdoorsmen, Dilg was one of the most vocal and prominent conservationist, a founder of the Izaac Walton League and a nationally respected columnist on outdoor affairs. Here is a nifty article from him dating to 1922.


I read recently an account of a trout fishing trip in a canoe, and of how a trout, firmly hooked, made a run for the boat, jumped in, shook the hook from its mouth, then deliberately jumped back into the stream. The process is evident. He became confused, made a run toward the boat, saw it when it was too late to turn, made a leap and landed in it. Then his wild flopping, he happened to rub the hook from his mouth, and in further wild flopping he in some way got over the gunwale and into the water.

Virtually the same thing happened to me in the west last summer. I was fishing for cutthroat trout, and hooked a monster. After I had played him a while, he swam toward shore just below me. There were a lot of rocks at that point, and he swam up among those rocks, in water so shallow that he was halfway in the air. He wiggled around in the rocks, got the hook out of his mouth, and swam back into the river.

Such stunts are not rare, although probably accidental. I have known pickerel to leap into a boat evidently without provocation. They had quite possibly been chasing a small fish which suddenly ducked under the boat. He pickerel leaped and fell into the boat. Once while fishing in northern Minnesota I was sitting in the bottom of a canoe while my two companions were casting for pickerel. One of them reeled in, and was about to lift his lure from the water when a pickerel shot at it, missed, and landed squarely in my lap in the bottom of the canoe. Since that was the only fish we caught, I was properly proud of my skill.

I wonder how many readers of this column have had strange experiences with fish that got away? I mean fish that got away by some peculiar stunt—or, for that matter, that gave themselves up by some such crazy notion or accident.

I would like to hear about them, and wish you would write to me in care of this paper.

-- Dr. Todd

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