You plan an evening trip, hoping to get to the lake by 5:00 at the latest. You load up and walk around to the driver's side and see the reason why the truck seemed to be canted at an odd angle: a flat tire.
It's the left front tire and since you park on the left side of the garage there's precious little room to get in and change it. It's not easy--lots of sweat, some tears, no blood--but you manage it.
The spare looks a little low, so you decide to go into town and pump it up.
You're just getting up to speed on the highway when you hear a scraping sound on the roof, then silence. You instantly know what it is. You brake, pull over onto the shoulder, and begin the walk back along the road to find your rod and reel.
The tools for changing the tire are behind the jump seat in the extended cab. To fold down the seat and reach the tools you had to move the rod and reel, which you keep stored there broken down into two sections. So you naturally put them on top of the cab to keep them out of harm's way.
They didn't fall off when you backed out of the garage, or when you stopped, shifted into first and started down the long drive, jouncing over the ruts. They didn't fall off when you crossed the railroad tracks and stopped at the highway, or when you accelerated through a left turn onto the road. No, they waited until you were on the highway going about 60.
You find them in the ditch. You give everything a quick visual once over. Everything looks OK. So you drive on into town, pump up the spare, and head for the lake. (You wonder if it's pushing your suddenly bad luck to risk the trip over rough roads on a spare without a spare. But you only live once.)
You get there more than an an hour late. You rig up, putting the rod and reel on top of the cab where you always put them while you don waders and vest. You see how these things happen?
The last thing, as always, is to assemble the rod. That's when you discover that the reel is busted. The fall onto the highway has bent the case so that the spool can't rotate freely.
You think you might have an extra reel in your gear bag. No, you don't. Well, you find you can pry the spool out of the case, so you'll be able to unwind line and spend the rest of the evening casting and stripping as you usually do.
You're back at the channel. You kick out, pull the line off the spool, and begin to fish. Finally.
It's another warm, still evening.
You're working a muddler again.
But nothing is happening. You're thinking, No wonder, with the luck I've been having.
You just do what you did last time. After coming to the end of the willows on this side you kick across to the other side.
You like this side. On the last trip this is where the fish suddenly came to life. You cast into the shadows under a stately old willow. You have caught memorable fish out of here before.
You cast once, twice, into likely spots, and nothing happens. Of course, you think. It's my bad luck. It will surely send me home fishless.
You cast the muddler out again. And this time a fish sips it in, you raise the rod, and you get a hookup. You're relieved and happy as you strip it in. Your luck has changed! How foolish of you to give up hope! This is a good fish. It's surely a brown. Whatever it is, you'll take it!
You're reaching for the net when it comes loose. Splash, and it's gone. You sit there for a minute thinking, Of course, this is how it had to happen. You will not only go home fishless, you'll go home a beaten man.
The last of the sunlight is slipping over the ridge. Resigned to your fate, you kick along the shoreline flipping out the muddler and giving it a desultory strip or two.
And a fish whacks it. It's a feisty little brown--it jumps three times--and you net it!
You go on down the shoreline and another fish whacks the fly. That one too, a fine rainbow, ends up in the net.
And farther on, another brown that takes you into the weeds.
Then you see one of those half rise rings right up against a driftwood log, and you drop the fly within a whisker of the log. And a nose comes up and takes it down. One more very fine brown ends up in the net.
You feel better. And somewhere in the songs of the frogs and the honks of the geese you imagine you hear a voice saying, Just kidding! Sorry about the reel.
The spare gets you home safe and sound.