WELTZ: What works, just plain works

At dusk I paddled our canoe over to where I could talk to the man we had watched catch fish after fish all evening.

“My wife and I have been watching you all evening. If you don’t mind me asking; how many fish have you landed and what pattern have you been using?”

“I quit counting at 40,” he replied. “My pattern, it’s one my grandmother taught me; knit one, pearl two.”

I smiled and said, “OK, I’ll bite; what fly pattern have you been using?”

“Well, since I can see you are fly fishers and not lure draggers, I’ll tell you. I started with a Black Gnat, but it was not producing enough so I switched to a Royal Coachman and well, you have seen the results.”

Still thinking he was joking I said, “OK, enough with the jokes, this is 1992 not 1932; now what fly were you really using?”

With that his countenance changed and he shot me a stern look saying, “Young man, I am going to give you a piece of advice. What works, works, and what doesn’t, doesn’t. And if you want to see success in this game you better accept that fact. Now, do you have any Royal Coachman in your fly box?”

“Yes I do,” I responded.

“Are you going to try them tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Good, I will be back in two days to see how you are making out.”

The place was Kwotlenemo Lake, during the first week of July 1992. The man was Hal Staythers, the then-owner of the IDA Drugstore in Lillooet. Hal did return, in fact, he returned each evening for the balance of our vacation and coached us through some of the best fly fishing we had experienced to that date.