The Dark Side of Destination Flyfishing:
It is better to travel well than to arrive. ~Buddha
(see part 1: Destination Flyfishing: The Good News and the . . . )
While flyfishing destinations are proliferating, the lodges becoming more comfortable, and more and more great fishing locations become accessible, travel for the destination flyfisher is not easy and in fact, it’s getting more and more difficult.
First of all, more people are traveling. I recently flew out of Buenos Aires for London on Easter Sunday after fishing in Tierra del Fuego. I expected people in this largely Catholic country to be at church or at Grandmother’s for a family dinner. But no! The entire population of the city seemed to be flying somewhere, and they all converged on the international airport. Lines snaked around the floor of the terminal as people waited to check in with mountains of baggage. In 2012, 3.2 billion passengers took to the skies, compared to just 1.7 billion in 2003. And much of this growth in air travel has come in the developing world regions of Asia, China and South America.
It is not only population explosion that is hindering destination travel, but thanks to two entirely different sets of criminals, it has become nearly intolerable. Who are those criminals? The first was Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorists. This small band of fanatics have forever changed the face of air travel. I fully expect strip searching to be just around the corner?
And the second criminal element? The Department of Homeland Security, the TSA security screening thugs, and airport security agencies worldwide. In the days before 911 the traveling flyfisher could carry onto the plane expensive fishing rods and reels, and even flies. We travelled with our gear so it wouldn’t become lost luggage, discovered a week later in Outer Mongolia by mistake. Many an expensive destination trip has been ruined by missing or damaged equipment. So we carried our tools of the trade on the plane, keeping it safe in the overhead racks.
Destination fishing travel reminds me of Chinese food; sweet and sour!
No longer. The “airport security gestapo” now actually believe fly rods and number 12 hooks to be implements of terrorism. And they are getting more strict and paranoid. Just last week I was coming home from a fishing trip to Argentina. Having checked into baggage my rods, hooks, flies, nippers, pliers and other implements of mass destruction, I approached airport security screening with my reels, fly lines and multi-sink tips safely in my carry on bag (along with iPad, camera, battery chargers and notebook). I confidently approached the zombie-like security team, put my bag on the x-ray belt (like I have done dozens of times before) and walked through the metal detector. My mind was already focused on a cold beer and a short wait before departure and my flight home.
Suddenly my reel bag became the center of considerable excitement as several armed guards were hurriedly called over by the screening agent. “Senior, we must look in your bag. Please wait a moment.” I thought to myself, did I accidentally leave my clippers or pocket knife in my bag?
One of the armed female guards pulled out my 15 foot coiled sink tips and extra fly line and proceeded to tell me that these were dangerous items and not allowed on the airplane! I just stood there with my mouth open in amazement. I did my best to explain, getting more agitated each time, that sink tips are only dangerous to fish. The answer came back firmly each time, No, No, No! Not allowed. Dangerous!
Then like a smart ass I pointed to another passenger’s shoelaces and asked if they were going to confiscate his shoes as well! Very dangerous!
I was sent all the way back into the terminal to the Check-In desk. It was either check my carry-on bag as luggage or the dutiful and ever vigilant security team would confiscate all my fly lines, even the ones on the six reels I was carrying. Only an idiot would check a bag full of expensive reels and lines in a carry on bag as luggage, without a lock (not that luggage locks do much good since most are cut off by ever vigilant security inspectors looking for cameras and other expensive items to steal).
And I was one frustrated idiot as I finally made my way back to security with a paper bag (kindly provided by the airline desk clerk) holding my camera, iPad, and other things I wanted to keep in my possession. My many reels and flylines were now tagged luggage. Since it was Easter I prayed extra hard everything would arrive intact.
And if the airport security guards don’t make your trip difficult, the airline will do it’s best. Many a destination traveller has watched helplessly as one of their flights was cancelled, often in a foreign country where our language skills are minimal and the airline staff culturally unsympathetic. Recently I was delayed coming home for two days due to a flight cancellation and missed connections. Not an uncommon story these days.
Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo. ~Al Gore
Ah! The glamour of international destination fishing travel. Great fishing can make up for the travel hassle, but I must confess, less and less as I get older!
Tight Lines . . . (if you ever get there)
John R Childress