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Valley Angler: In defense of worms

In August there is a definite change in the type of customer who comes into our shop. In the spring and through the early part of the summer we cater to the serious angler. These are the hard core fly fishermen who know the hatches and the time to be on the water for the best fishing. These anglers tend to travel alone or with other like minded soles. In the latter half of the summer the average guy that come in the shop is accompanied by his children and maybe even his wife. Once they have taken a quick glance around the shop the conversation usually begins with: "We're not really fly fishermen, is there some place we can just take the kids fishing?"

The other questions that follow in quick succession are: Do I need a license? Do the kids need a license? Do you have bobbers and hooks and where can I get worms? We cheerfully try to answer all of the questions and point out a few places where a youngster might catch a fish. I say cheerfully, but in all honesty by Labor Day it gets harder and harder to keep the smile. If I could only find a way to make a buck on fishing advice. The one thing that keeps me going is the thought that just maybe one of these kids is going to catch a fish and a whole new chapter in his or her life is going open up.

Most of these families come from urban areas and this just may be the only opportunity that these kids will ever have to try fishing. I have this fantasy that sometime in the distant future one of these kids will grow up and one day say to his dad: "Hey, do you remember that time we went to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and you took us fishing? Wow, that was a fun time."

And so with that thought in mind I continue to point out on the map where to find a fish or two. Janet will continue to tirelessly untangle some kids closed faced spinning reel and puts it on his rod, facing the right direction. I will continue to draw diagrams of how to rig a bobber and worm. However, since we steadfastly refuse to sell worms we will continue to point the way to the nearest convenience store that does.

I guess the worm thing kind of makes me out to be snob. I will take the heat for that and for the record we have argued with ourselves about stocking them. In the end I guess it boils down to stubbornness. One of the great angling writers, who went by the pen name of Sparse Gray Hackle, once said that: "There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm." I guess, I will just live by those words and leave it that.

See you on the river.

Bill and Janet Thompson own North Country Angler in North Conway.

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