I was speaking with my wife on the phone after putting in a twelve hour day and she asked me what my plans were for the next day as I had no obligations. I told her that I was probably going fishing but where I had not decided. It dawned on me that I really did not have any contractors, inspectors, and clients or family issues to be concerned with. I was going to have a day to myself. The weather forecast appeared favorable and so I decided to venture to one of my favorite rivers.
The river itself is a favorite among many kayakers and canoeists as it is clear, somewhat swift in spots and relatively shallow so many amateurs are fond on this stretch of water. Also although I like this river I do not normally catch trout larger than 10 inches but what is lacked in quality is normally made up in sheer quantity. Thus the reason for my choosing a 3 weight fly rod.
I drove into the campground by which the river is located and found only nine campsites occupied and most of them did not have anyone present indicating that they had left for some other activity. I was pretty pleased by now as I figured I had the river to myself. Donning my waders and grabbing my gear I took the short trail to the river and carefully entered it while trying to stay in the shadows and casting towards the shadows on the far side of the river.
Looking at a log in the river it was easy to determine that it would hold a fish due to the current break and how the water flowed both over and under it. Determining areas where fish can be found is an article unto itself and not all fishy looking areas produce. Suddenly the morning calm was broken by the not so tranquil sound of two kayakers having a rather heated dispute.
She: “Get out and push us off!”
He: “This water is cold and I told you I don’t like water sports, besides I have my shoes on.”
She: “I went golfing with you and didn’t complain and all you’ve done is gripe.”
Me: Thinking to myself. It’s at least two hours to the nearest take out. This will be a day neither will forget or possibly one of them live through.
Aware now of their presence I kept an ear and eye peeled for when they would round the bend so I could move out of the way. From the corner of my eye Mr. and Mrs. Bickering appear and there is not a smile on either face. I move over to the side to allow the novices plenty of room to pass but it is in vain as they are dead set on a collision course with me.
With nowhere to go I brace for the impending impact and feel the bow of the kayak ram my hip.
Panic strikes the couple as they both apologize and blame each other for the incident and become hopelessly stuck on the log jam as the kayak swings around with the stern facing downstream while high on a log.
“First time kayaking”, I ask. “Sit tight and I’ll free you from your predicament”. Taking the bow and pulling the kayak upstream frees the stern and prevents them from tipping and sends them downriver while smiling and advising them to have a good day and enjoy the river. Most people are not aware how sound travels in this environment and so the Bickering’s continue their journey.
Smiling to myself I wonder what force of nature brought these two together and in the recesses of my shallow mind figure that the guys mother must have really given him a lot of lunch money when he was in school.
I resume my fishing but move downriver a bit due to the disturbance and eye another spot. With patience and some skill I allow the bead head nymph to dance precariously close to some semi submerged logs. If you want to catch fish you must be willing to sacrifice a fly or two as the river gods demand their tribute. Resistance is felt and I set the hook hoping for a fish and not a snag. The pull indicates a healthy fish and the fight is on. Winding the excess line unto the reel and concentrating on landing this fish is job one, thinking about the photo op is immediately removed from my mind. The fish makes a number of runs seeking the shelter of the log jam but somehow the rod has sufficient energy to stop him short and finally he is brought to the net.
This scene was repeated a few times that day and once my concentration on landing the fish was so great that I failed to see a group who had stopped upstream and observed me landing the fish and their presence was announced by a round of applause as I brought the fish to the net. One member of the party even filmed it as he had never seen anyone actually fly-fishing let alone bring a fish in. I wish I had asked his name and requested a copy as I normally fish alone so it would be nice to have.
There is never a bad day on the water as the river is always changing and nature provides entertainment, be it a deer drinking, a beaver working on its structure, or any other wildlife that calls the area home. Nature provides a broad swath of entertainment found nowhere else.