OK, I’ve been waiting for just the right time to write about my husband, the Fish Head, and Fish Heads in general. There is also a subcategory of “Fish Heads” called “Boat Heads,” but we’ll get to that later, when I’m not sober.
Maybe I should have known better, but I had no life experience with Fish Heads, so I just didn’t see it coming. The first trip I took with Gary, that involved both fishing and boats, was on Lake Powell, in 1983. Looking back on it, the trip was a crazy amount of fun—new romance, fantastic scenery, great weather, and, even, fishing.
Around 2:00 am the first morning, camping deep in one of the inlets, I awoke to a strange sound and poked my head out of the tent. There was my future husband, clad only in his tighty-whities, spin-fishing and catching fish. As he reeled in his first catch, he hollered, “They were jumping and woke me up!” I thought it was cute and went back to sleep. The next day I caught my first fish, below (dig the 80s hair and why I am only wearing a towel is a mystery):
Fast-forward to now, 2015…
Four boats later (actually five, since Gary just bought a motorized drift boat, but we won’t take possession of it for a few months yet) and thousands of dollars in fly fishing and fly tying gear later, I have come to the not-so-brilliant conclusion that I am married to a Fish Head.
Now, mind you, Gary is not a professional Fish Head, like many of our fishing guide and fishing industry friends are. Rather, he is an amateur Fish Head, but what he lacks in expertise, he more than makes up for in irrational exuberance. Ask anyone. He’s like a fishing cheerleader, which is actually illegal in some states.
In all fairness, Gary may not truly be a true Fish Head, since he actually has many, many other interests. But these days, flyfishing seems to trump all others (until our local ski hill gets a bit more snow…then he becomes a Ski Bum for a few months, which means you should go out and buy stock in Advil; no need to thank me…you’d do it for me, I know).
Fish Heads don’t really think much about whether they are Fish Heads or not because they are too busy talking about fishing. The latest flies they tied that they caught “the big one” with…the name of the run by the “Gingerbread House” on the southwest fork of No Name River. Fish Heads speak in code, at all times. Real Fish Heads are all members of the same cult, who only hang out with fellow Fish Heads, so it all just seems “normal” to them.
They are oblivious to time and space, except when it comes to the mystical art of estimating fish length and weight; in this arena, they are as precise as an atomic clock (except when they are lying, which they all have been known to do). If you’ve ever taken out a tape measure to see how big that 16” rainbow really was, between your Fish Head’s hands, you were probably surprised at the size of the actual gap.
Remember: Fish are the only animals that grow after death.
Fish Heads can be spotted from miles away, just like cowboys, because they all wear the same practical fishing clothing, see below:
When not in the river/lake/ocean, Fish Heads travel in small packs, usually with excessive amounts of beer and a really disgusting cooler. They often don’t have ice because they stayed out on the water too long. If you meet a Fish Head who still has ice at the end of the fishing day, hang on to him because he is a rare breed, indeed.
Fishing is gambling, but with much better scenery. “Just one more cast,” you’ll hear them say. Fish Heads have all drunken deeply from the same Kool-Aid and, once, consumed, its effects do not wear off until death. Those of us who share their lives must do so with the full awareness that fishing may trump many, many other things. For example, the day Gary should have been at graduation to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, he went fishing. ‘Nuf said.
If you share their affliction, you are lucky, indeed. If not, well, then you’d better consciously work on your ability to control your eye-rolling.
But there’s a whole other side to Fish Heads that should not be overlooked. There are important, critical skills that Fish Heads must have that you should be very grateful for. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some examples:
Focus: That same ability to stand in a river for hours and stare at the end of the fly line is easily transferrable to the intense concentration and balance that it takes to untangle and hang Christmas lights.
Night Vision: If your Fish Head, like mine, still fishes once the sun has set because the fish were jumping, you know you can put these fabulous night vision skills to good use when someone needs to take the trash out early on an icy winter morning.
Cast-Iron Stomach: Fish Heads can kill and gut fish without flinching, so you can also trust them to kill recluse spiders, pick up a dead bird off of the patio, and clean up when your old dog has thrown up in the middle of the night…again.
Road Warrior: Most Fish Heads, especially those who often pull a boat, must be great drivers in a variety of conditions and roads. So, if you’re looking for someone to help you move across town, you know who to call. I’ve seen Gary parallel park his Dodge pickup truck and 20’ bay boat, whereas I need three parking spots just to parallel park my Subaru Outback. Just be aware that if they have to drive across a bridge, all forward progress will stop until they have stared out the window at the water below, looking for you-know-what below.
Bartender: Most Fish Heads drink and have a reasonable tolerance for the stuff, so if you need a mixologist for your next dinner party, they are the obvious choice. But, beware: If any of your guests is a Fish Head, all bets are off.
Eagle Eye: They may not be able to read a watch in order get home on time (just give up on that idea entirely, if you know what’s good for you), but if you are suddenly missing a contact lens or earring, those eyes that stare at bits of fluff in the water are perfect for the task.
Eye Protection: Fish Heads always wear the best polaroid sunglasses on the market, so they shouldn’t bat an eye when you sit on yours in their boat and suddenly lust for a new pair of Maui Jims.
So, as you can see, there are many benefits to hanging out with a Fish Head. However, I do need to make the point that, in spite of what they tell you, talking about fishing is not an aphrodisiac.
Thanks for reading. I know how busy you are.