Marcy, a successful and overworked fly rod designer, who has been living in New York City returns to her hometown of Roscoe, NY, in the heart of the Catskills for the Christmas holidays for the first time in five years.
She is nursing a broken heart from a recent breakup with her fiancé and a bruised ego, having been passed up for a big promotion at her company. To make matters worse, right before leaving NYC, she dropped her fly tying scissors on the floor, making the tip look like a kype jaw.
On the way into town, Marci stopped at the Checkurfly Fly Shop to refresh her streamer box and buy some new scissors. Everyone in the shop was talking about the Christmas Trout, an elusive buck brown trout, said to be a yard long, that had been seen rarely and hooked only once, on Christmas Day in the Willowemoc Creek, the legendary trout stream that runs through the center of Roscoe.
Long time guide and everyone’s friend, Johnny Goodfellow, was the one who had hooked the Christmas trout five years ago. The leviathan took Johnny downstream 200 yards and around a bend where the crowd that had gathered on the Highway 17 bridge lost sight of the battle. No one really knows what happened after that, just that Johnny came back into view 20 minutes later and wouldn’t talk about it. Some said that his knot didn’t hold. Rumor had it that his tippet had gotten old. Others said that somehow a woman was to blame. The only thing that was for sure was that the Christmas Trout was still out there.
On her way out of Checkurfly, Marcy stumbled awkwardly and fell into the arms of Earnest Young, her high school sweetheart. Earnest had been trying to get over Marcy for seven years; he has no idea why she suddenly broke off their relationship right before graduation. Even though he is the best-looking man in town, he has had no interest in starting a relationship with any of the classy lassies of Roscoe, though the fetching Zelda Hooker keeps throwing herself at him.
Marcy reluctantly allowed Earnest to walk her to the closest riffles. She has no luck with the trout until Earnest lets her borrow his ultra secret Christmas Midge, a red, white, and green nymph that mimics a special midge found only in the Willowemoc. After Marcy catches several large trout, the love light begins to glow in her eyes again.
After that, Marcy and Earnest are inseparable. They cut down a Christmas tree together, have a snowball fight, build gingerbread houses, attend the Roscoe tree-lighting ceremony, and work together on a charity fundraiser to provide fly rods for the less fortunate.
But Earnest still doesn’t know why Marcy left him in high school and he decided to ask her. Marcy revealed that just before they graduated, she saw Earnest fly fishing with Zelda Hooker in the honey hole that was their special spot. Earnest tried to explain that it wasn’t the blatant infidelity that it appeared to be. But Marcy burst into tears and ran away, even though she was in her waders.
As Marcy was leaving Roscoe to return to NYC on Christmas Eve, she stopped at Checkurfly to get some more 6x tippet. While there, wise Johnny Goodfellow saw Marcy and began talking to her on behalf of Earnest. Johnny remembered the morning that Zelda had tricked Earnest into taking her to Marcy and Earnest’s honey hole. Johnny told Marcy how there was a sulfur hatch going on and Zelda had threatened to tell Marcy that she had seen Earnest baitfishing if he didn’t show her their honey hole.
Earnest arranged to meet Zelda at the secret spot at 5 pm. But at 4:30, Earnest swam down to the bottom of the honey hole and anchored a waterproof squawk box there. The squawk box kept the fish away the whole time that Zelda fished while trout were rising at other pools all around them. Zelda suspected that something fishy was going on, but she never tried to fish in that spot again.
“What a fool I’ve been! I should have trusted Earnest,” cried Marcy. “What should I do, Johnny?”
“Follow your heart, dear,” Johnny counseled. “You pushed Earnest away once. Don’t make the same mistake twice.”
“But he won’t answer my phone calls. How will I find him?”
“I think we both know where Earnest will be first thing on Christmas morning,” Johnny replied with a wink.
There was soft snow falling when Marcy arrived at the honey hole on Christmas morning. She had her six-weight Orvis Helios rod rigged up with an olive streamer. Earnest was nowhere to be seen. She half-heartedly cast her streamer across the current and let it swing down below her, but there was no action in the honey hole. As she was getting ready to leave, she heard Earnest’s voice behind her, “Have you tried the Christmas Midge?”
Marcy’s heart leaped inside her at the sound of Earnest’s voice. “I don’t have one,” she said. “But I’d be willing to spend the rest of my life with the man who could give me one.”
Earnest reached into his fishing vest pocket and pulled out a small, velvety box. “In five years, I haven’t been able to get over you,” he said softly. He dropped down to one knee in his waders and held out the box to Marcy. “Will you be my fishing buddy for the rest of our lives?”
Marcy slowly opened the box and saw a perfect, size 20 Christmas Midge. She squealed with delight and immediately added some 6x tippet to her rig and tied on the Christmas midge with a Double Davy knot. On the first drift, the indicator paused ever-so-briefly and Marcy lifted her rod tip expectantly.
“Crap,” she said. “I’m hung on the bottom…but I think the bottom is starting to move!” Before she knew it, she was down to her backing and the Christmas Trout was not in a giving mood. But after skillfully playing the fish for 20 minutes, the massive brown was hanging out of both sides of her net.
Marcy dropped the net, waded over to Earnest, put her arms around his neck, and said, “Yes, I’ll be your fishing buddy forever.” They shared one long passionate kiss.
“What about New York City?” Earnest asked earnestly.
“Let’s worry about that later,” Marcy said. “Wanna fish the tail of this pool?”