Our friend Hugh McDowell sent us this fishy mystery. Can you figure it out?

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This "fish"tery was sent to us by our friend Hugh McDowell (of New Zealand Fly Tying fame). We couldn't figure it out. Can you?

The Fish in QuestionThey say fact is often stranger than fiction and they're right, whoever they are, as you will learn from the following incredible, believe-it-or-not type true tale.

My friend and I were fly-fishing from the shore of an English put-and-take fishery when he rose a fish on a dry fly and played it for a few minutes until eventually it tired enough for me to net it for him. However when I went to remove the hook, I found it wasn't imbedded in the fish at all but had simply caught around some split shot fastened to nylon monofilament protruding from the fish's throat! But wait, there's more, as the TV admen love to say.

The other end of the nylon emerged from the trout's anus and had been prevented from being pulled back out through the system by a 2" piece of fly line to which the nylon was attached. Because catch and release is forbidden on this particular piece of water we were obliged to kill the unfortunate fish (see the photograph I took of my friend holding it at left).

For a long time we were baffled as to how the nylon could possibly ever have managed to become arranged through the fish the way it was. But after a great deal of thought I eventually came up with what we think may be the the answer.

It's listed below. But before you read it, perhaps you might see if you can figure a solution for yourself? Remember, the end with the fly line was hanging from the fish's anus, and the end with the split shot emerged from the mouth.

Give up? OK, here's my theory:

1. A not very skilled angler, forced to fly-fish with borrowed tackle supplied by the owner of the fishery, probably cheats by adding split shot above his fly and uses the weight to help sling it out into the lake before dragging the sunken lure back through the water.

2. A fish grabs the fly, becomes hooked, and bolts.

3. Knowing nothing of the art of playing a fish, the unskilled angler tries to wrestle the trout ashore, but the strain proves too much for the old line supplied on the loaner tackle and it breaks 2" up from the end.

4. Fish is now swimming around with a fly imbedded in its jaw and trailing the leader with the 2" of line attached to it.

5. Some weeks later a second fish is attracted to this piece of line twitching through the water, grabs it and swallows it. The fly imbedded in fish #1, with hook now rusted through, breaks off at the eye, leaving the original piece of mono with the split shot on it hanging from the mouth of fish #2.

6. Eventually the piece of fly line passes through this fish taking the nylon with it, but the weight of the shot on the other end prevents the unfortunate creature from passing any more of the nylon through its system.

7. It doesn't, however, prevent it from feeding and that's when Dave and his dry-fly appear. The rainbow, its judgment slightly impaired and possibly handicapped by the weight, rises and misses the target but the dragging shot spins around Dave's fly like an Argentinean gaucho's bolas and presto.

Anyway, that's the best scenario I can come up with. Like I said earlier, fact can be stranger than fiction.


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