Aaron Learns to Love the Occasional Beating

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When my friends Kristine Stuart and Aaron Rygas first joined us at El Salto, I could tell that Kristine was a lukewarm attendee. It’s not that she resisted, but she’s not a huge fan of mornings and didn’t quite know what to expect. Now, three trips into the experience, it’s pretty obvious that the soon-to-be Mrs. Rygas can’t wait to get back.

Along the way her fishing skills have improved dramatically, which probably enhances the enjoyment factor. Even when fishing is comparatively tough for everyone else, she seems to eke out a feel big fish every day. It’s partially because, as Aaron told me, “she can milk a Senko cast for up to 5 minutes.”

During the trip that ended last week, she was absolutely on fire, setting her personal best the first day, and then beating it the next one. As I sat glumly in my office, Aaron texted me picture after picture after picture of this small but fierce girl holding bigger and bigger green fish.

Aaron also posted them on social media, which led to major kudos for Kristine, and a truckload of crap from his friends. “Getting good practice with the net?” they asked, followed up by “Your camera skills are getting better and better with each fish she catches.” Occasionally it was even more blunt: “She’s kicking your ass, bro.”

This is an experience that I’ve “enjoyed” often, as a fellow fishing travel freak whose wife has a propensity to catch giants. The abuse is relentless, and just when you think it’s going to be the same cast of characters over and over again, some new buttinsky decides to poke fun of the fact that your “little lady” is crushing big’uns and you’re not. Then again, most of those dudes are sitting on their basement couch wired into a Playstation machine.

What Aaron is learning, under my subtle but unerring tutelage, is that the abuse is a sign that you’re doing things right. Rather than answering each critique – good-spirited or otherwise – it’s better to recognize that a happy wife is worth a little heckling. A wife who can’t wait to get back to El Salto is worth a lot of heckling.