I got the news that they had nabbed “The Whacker” the day before I arrived-the classic “you should’ve been here yesterday.” Though I was disappointed, given that I had traveled all the way to Northern Wisconsin to get some evidence of the elusive cryptid, his capture opened the door for a float trip with a husband and wife without running the risk of a redheaded perv emerging from the timber and exposing himself. Thus, with The Whacker’s seven-year reign of terror quelled, I accepted the invitation to spend a day on the water with Larry and Wendy of the Hayward Flyfishing Company.
I’ve floated with several husband and wife teams in the past, and some of them have been just plain awkward to be with. All the variables of a fishing trip don’t always blend well with a marriage, or vice-versa. The dynamic between spouses being fishing partners is a delicate one. One offers advice, the other takes in personally (“that dumbass left the fucking toilet seat up this morning and he is really going to bitch about that last cast”?) Some couples can pull it off, and some can’t, or at least shouldn’t.
Well Larry and Wendy have it figured out and I can’t recall ever having more fun on the river with two people that I’d just recently met before the day began. We had this beautiful river to ourselves and if you had blindfolded me I would have guessed we were somewhere in the Willamette Valley. Even though I was a mess from my two previous days at the lake cabin, covered in mosquito bites, getting drilled by sugar-loving horseflies, and with a case of a new friend called poison parsnip on my arms and hands, I was laughing the entire day as the two of them traded good-natured barbs; best friends who have been doing this together for a good while.
Twenty minutes into the float I caught my first-ever musky, a ferocious attack of the fly from behind a boulder in shallow water. By day’s end we were all bleeding from esox teeth, which are a helluva’ lot harder to handle boatside in a swift river than their lake-dwelling brethren, and had tallied up a number of football-smallmouth that blew up the river and bent a 9-weight in half.
Wendy and Larry have a little slice-of-heaven in the North Woods, where the relaxed vibe is infectious and every dirt road leads to an inviting watering hole. In a place like Hayward, you can’t help but have a good time, even if your wife is horribly outfishing you!