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The War

As a child growing up in Utah, I was taught the finer arts of trout fishing. My family enjoyed the outdoors and made every attempt to get away most every weekend April through August.

My family wasn't much for camping for the sake of camping so our escapes were usually targeted at a nice trout stream or picturesque lake. Camping had a purpose and that purpose was trout fishing.

I lived in Utah for my first eleven years of life and in that short amount of time I had become the best trout fisherman on the planet. The only problem was that each of my three brothers had also become the greatest trout anglers in the world. This became the breeding grounds for an intense rivalry.

Who was better than whom? I simply knew in my young and tender age that I had surpassed all three of my older brothers in both knowledge and skill. Just as sure I was of myself each of my brothers knew that they had overcome everyone on the globe in their abilities. There was however one man that could maybe, possibly have more talent than the four of us and this would only be admitted in the strictest of confidentiality

Our grandfather's vast expertise would add fuel to the fire. I always knew I was better than anyone else in the sport of trout fishing because I had spent more time learning from my grandfather than everyone else. Again, each of my brothers believed the same to be true of them.

My grandfather showed me which knots to tie and how to tie them, how to cast and how to retrieve. I learned which equipment to use, how to use it, and when to use it. He taught me the world and I was his attentive student.

For years this rivalry between me and my brothers continued. When we weren’t fishing we were attempting to convince one another that we were better than all else. Time went on and my parents made the decision to move to Washington.

I was eleven and my brothers had all become of age to make their own choices to move to Washington or stay in Utah. Only my oldest brother made the journey to Washington where he stayed for a few short years before returning to Utah. So I was left to discover all that Washington had to offer an expert fisherman like myself without all the competition of my brothers. Before long I found out what fishing is all about... Largemouth Bass!

I began buying up equipment left and right. I was eager to figure out all the right combinations of fishing lures and equipment that would make me an expert bass fisherman. Wait! No! An expert bass ANGLER! I had Crank Baits, Rattle Traps, Plugs, Grubs, Spinner Baits, Jigs, Pigs, and Worms. If someone made it I had one or wanted to get one.

After a few short years I had official become the best damn bass angler on earth! Just ask me. Roland Martin has nothing on me. At the same time many other things were also happening. I met Joe who became my best friend, fishing partner and rival. I developed into quite the accomplished Salmon fisherman and I acquired my first bass boat. The boat was a four-man rubber raft with a hole patched by Hot Tamales candy. There was a piece of plywood cut to fit the bottom so that I could stand up in my raft. The plywood had been wrapped and duck taped by a U-haul moving blanket so that wood splinters would not make new holes to be patched by the wonder candy. This luxurious bass attacking machine was powered by twin plastic oars.

I also learned about the tools of the trade. For reasons unknown, the Spinner Bait, which Joe’s dad called the "Flying Ford Fender", had been my favorite lure to use while the plastic worm was the most productive. Joe and I applied our knowledge to making our own lures as well. Joe was the original creator of a spinner with a fly used as the hook and I was the inventor of the Harley Lureson, appropriately named by Joes' father.

When my second oldest brother, Jeremy, moved to Washington to attend school I would have figured that the rivalry once felt between us would have faded with the years. It took only a short time to realize that wasn't the case. I still believed I was the best angler and he continued to think himself the most accomplished trout man ever. I thought to myself that Jeremy had a lot to learn. Maybe it was that thought that started the war or perhaps it was later.

I don’t remember the exact moment or event that started the war between Jeremy and myself. I thought it might have started when he moved to Washington. It could have started years before in Utah. Or it may have been the time we fished in a small local tournament together. I was teaching Jeremy all I knew and all he would ever need to know to catch bass when we received an invite to fish in this tournament. We accepted, knowing I was a shoe-in to win this little contest for the one largest fish. We stopped to fish a heavily weeded area in hopes of landing some nice prespawn bass and in my vast knowledge of the sport and the targeted fish I decided a Weedless Jig was the best choice. Due to Jeremy’s ignorance of the sport and bass in general, his decision was a double treble hook Crank Bait. A few casts later found me snagged in the weeds with my Weedless Jig so I looked over at Jeremy in time to see him snag up with his lure as well. The problem was that when he snagged his lure it was in the mouth of the tournament winning trout.

What actually signaled the beginning is still unclear. Jeremy and I have been on many outings together and our rivalry could have escalated to war on any one of those adventures. Although I can't recall the moment the war began, I do recall the exact time in history that I became aware that our friendly rivalry was now a not-so-friendly battle.

Jeremy had returned to Utah and I had gone to visit him and the rest of my family living in Utah. Jeremy and I thought it only natural to spend the day fishing on the Duchesne River, a favorite from our younger years. So we loaded up with everything we would need for the day and went on our way. There was a noticeable tension in the air as we approached the river. Both of us quickened our stride as we drew closer to the water’s edge. Neither of us were willing to commit nor admit to an actual foot race at this point. I'm not sure which of us got our line wet first, but I know that the one who did felt a great deal of accomplishment in the day’s first victory.

Fishing went almost normal for a while. We split up to find our own fishing holes moving upstream from spot to spot. We’d stop at one hole for several minutes before moving to the next. We shared our conquests with each other in passing. I'd say "caught four" and he would reply with "five." It went back and forth like that for a while; both of us trying to outdo the other. We stretched the truth a little more each time we met up again. "Eight!" Jeremy would say. I would reply with "Nine!"

Jeremy and I usually practiced catch and release so verifying the exact numbers was difficult and we were forever cautious to never question one’s honesty. Before long, all the tension and more had returned to the air and our encounters became increasingly brief. The unofficial foot race from fishing hole to fishing hole had also begun. I found that as I approached the hole Jeremy was fishing he would quickly reel in his line and start off for the next hole up river. He shouted as he went, "Twelve!!!” Then it happened...

No more unofficial garbage, I started running. I ran past him and down to the next spot as Jeremy gave chase. No longer was catching fish the object of today’s outing. The only thought passing through our minds was beating each other to the next hole. Although fishing was no longer the primary objective, we maintained the front by continuing to make casts into the river. I broke my line on one of these pitiful efforts to convince myself that I still cared about fishing. I thought that this would be the perfect time to again switch spots. To avoid any downtime I'll just simply tie a new lure on while running to the next hole. While sprinting along, I reached for my back pocket where I placed the small storage compartment which held my lures, hooks, and weights but it was gone. Somewhere in the hustle I had lost everything.

That exact moment is when I realized that I was at war with Jeremy. Immediately after I discovered the storage container missing I thought to myself "these are the spoils of battle." I am dead in the water unless I can make amends with the enemy. Sign a treaty which would allow me limited access to his supplies. A temporary cease fire was my only hope.

I hurried to find Jeremy and when he saw me coming, he took off running. "Wait! I need help!" I pleaded as he continued to the next hotspot. I caught up to him at the next fishing hole and laid the ground rules for the temporary cease fire. He agreed to allow me the opportunity to use some of his equipment after I admitted that there may have been a slight exaggeration of the number of fish that I caught (in reality, it was a total exaggeration) and then he admitted the same. We talked about how ridiculous our behavior had turned and laughed about it for some time. We tried to get an honest description of how well we had done from each other but we continued to stretch the truth.

I finished tying on one of Jeremy’s inferior spinners. Then we both stood up stared each other down and took off running to the next hole!

Submitted by Dan