Friday, October 16, 2009


The following is an excerpt of a conversation discussing the previous post. It was pulled from the USENet Newsgroup Rec.Outdoors.Fishing.Fly with the authors permission.

Wolfgang: I recall a day on a stream somewhere in central Pennsylvania, lo these many years ago. There, upon the very bridge once traversed by the three billygoats gruff, stood a clutch of erstwhile fishermen who smelled of strong drink, and the truth was not in them. Eagerly and breathlessly, OH so eagerly and breathlessly, we watched the merry Frankster, standing stolid and steely-eyed in the foam and the froth, casting ever so persistently to the presumed fish which had long ago fled the wobbling shadows of the equally steadfast (and, admittedly, somewhat bloated) forms defiling the very asphalt above.....which latter, if you've ever seen it, you know is a pretty impressive (though not at all pretty) accomplishment.....asphalt ain't all that easy to defile.
Anyway, back in those days, the magnificent "bend like an oak or break like a" Reid was already (and justifiably) famous for having repeatedly (and with malice aforethought) pissed in the very face of death.
Um.....not real bright, some doubters might suggest, but panache, spelled with a capital.....uh.....whatever that first letter is, to the aficionado. We loved it. We ate it up. We waited with 'bated breath. We giggled in anticipation and elbowed each other in the ribs. We smiled. We laughed. We stank.
And then.......

Handyman Mike: Ah, yes and as I was passing over the mountain in central Pa. I came across 2 souls attempting to coax a trout or two from a small stream. I slowed down and told them there was a storm a-brewing with clap of thunder and bolts of lightning. Haven't heard anything said the souls. Then came the clap of thunder and the bolts of lightning. Climb in the back I tell these 2 souls. So they climbed into the steel flatbed body (not tin}. Wasn't real sure if we were going to get them to the Cherry Run cabin unscathed or fried..........Was a great clave that year for sure..........

Wolfgang: Hadn't thought about that day for a long time. I've had many great days on trout streams. Sharing that one on Cherry Run with Mark, catching numerous sparkling brook jewels, ranks high among them. Riding back to the cabin in the back of a truck, dodging lightning bolts, gave the whole experience a certain quotidian comico-mystical quality worthy of treatment by someone like McManus.....or maybe Traver would be a better choice. Yeah, I think so. The bear in the tent would be more in McManus's line.
The only disappointment I recall in the trip was that day on the bridge. There we were, with front row seats at a show that promised certain disaster, excruciating physical pain, blood, and general mayhem, and Frank........Frank, the chiseling bastard, did not float down the stream upside-down, Frank did not have a leg broken by a falling tree, Frank did not fracture his skull on a bridge abutment, Frank did not bleed out after perforating a major artery with one of his famous fighting craws, Frank did not disappear in a pool of quicksand. No, Frank lost his bug in a shrubbery and then walked out of the stream unscathed, saying, "next!"
I wanted my money back. :(

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just another day

I was just asked about falling out of the boat last week. "Wasn't that on the Lower Sac?" Naw, went swimming on the White in Arkansas. On the Lower Sac, I got a hook embedded in the node of my trigeminal nerve (which got infected causing excruciating pain and Bells Palsey) on the Lower Sac. Did fall off a cliff on the Rapidan, which wasn't flowing as fast as the water on the Rapid when I slipped in went through a chute. I was savaged by the Savage where I stepped off rock and did a feeding duck routine, which was nothing compared to the flood on the Rapahannock, which rose so fast I almost didn't make it across. We really can't forget Penns, where there have been so many memorable spills, but none really can compare with getting hung by my net over the 60 foot cliff on the Severn. I think that was after the tree fell around me on the Gunpowder. I did have that white water rafting trip on the Madison, sans raft, but I've also done that on the Kern, where the combination of tequila and eggnog nearly got me arrested for chumming. There was that killer catfish and leech combo on the Sacobia River in the Philippines, or the mines on the DMZ in South Korea outside of Gosong. The butt luge down the hill to the Swiss Millstream in Germany rivaled the semi-drowning on the Platte in Colorado. So, no, I didn't fall out of the boat on the Lower Sac.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I've looked at the White from both sides now

Okay, I'm down to Mountain Home, Arkansas for the FFF Southern Council Conclave. This event is close to, if not exceeding the national convention. I had some classes (i.e. spey casting in case steelhead start running up the Platte River at some time in the near future) and seminars. One thing that was cool, I was videotaped tying my Frank's Fighting Craw. The guy who did it is going to edit it and put it up on UTube in a month or so.
Yeh, yeh. Blah, blah, blah.... Come Saturday and after enduring all the camaraderie BS, I needed to go fishing, so it’s off to the North Fork of the White River in Southern Mo. This water looks a lot like Penns. About the same size and flow. Unfortunately, no fish. Nice diversion. On the way back from Missouri, I did see two signs side-by-side. Both had arrows pointing off to the side road. The first one was for a cemetery, the second… a taxidermist. At least they give you options.
Okay, Sunday, "bored" meeting in the a.m. and then time to go fishing again. Mark Borserine from Kansas says he wants to go out. Mark is an FFF Certified Casting Instructor and a hell of a fisherman (some guys can cast but not fish).
We meet up with Joe, our guide. Joe has an Arkansas jon boat. These are about 18’ long and only about 4’ wide. Really nice and stable. We tool on down the main course of the White River, primarily chuckin’ and duckin’ with a big, pink San Juan worm. This fishing is extremely productive but not really fly fishing IMHO. However, it’s a lot of fun, so we keep at it till the guide wants to go home. He doesn’t like being on the water after dark. Something about unseen logs and alligators. We did catch a bunch of fish in the 14” to 19” range.
On Monday, Mark and I have an all-day trip with a fairly famous White River guide on the White. We’ll call him “Eastwood” to protect the innocent. Yes, he is one of the finest guides on the White River, but we don’t want the following to be associated with him.
Early on, Eastwood commits two cardinal sins. One, he says that the weather and water conditions are perfect for catching big trout and lots of them. Its overcast and they are running 4 generators at the dam. Secondarily, after we had to duck under a stream-side limb, he mentioned that he’d been guiding for over 11 years and had never lost a client out of the boat.
Bwahahahahahahahahaha! He don’t know me very well, do he? I calmly replied “until today.” (cue suspenseful music in the background)
We head out and find out that since we’re “good casters,” Eastwood will eschew chuckin’ and duckin’. We will “cast like men!” Okay, here it is Thursday, that was Monday. That being said, casting 8 wt rods with sinking fly lines and weighted flies will stretch out joints that have not been stretched since high school and I am still sore.
One of the things that Eastwood boat has is a drag chain. This is a length of rope ending in a heavy chain that drags along the bottom, slowing the drift down river. Well, between a really nice stable platform in the Arkansas jon boat, the drag chain keeping us at the right speed, and finally, some booming 75 foot double hauls with a high speed strip of big fly, I’m finally fishing.
And then, then…the quietude was destroyed. I was standing in the front of the boat, minding my own business, as we drifted downriver. Since the chain was attached to the front of the boat, we were going downstream motor first. The running line was a bit stiff and it had tangled a bit in the bottom of the boat, so I was working to clear the tangle.
The boat decided to spin a bit, so was out of line with the current about 45 degrees when the drag chain caught on a log and the boat snapped back in line. Basic physics kicked in. See, I was standing above one point on the Earth. Physics says that unless I do something to change that, I will remain at that point, even if the object I’m standing on decides to abandon ship and move to another point in this space/time continuum. One thing that did act upon me was the gunnel, hitting me in the back of the knees.
Okay, now I’m airborne, doing a 180 degree spin from the vertical. I then hit the water, the first temp check is done with the back of my neck. Hmm, 52 degrees. Chill. I go under, do a divers turn, think “this will make a great story,” say hi to the 41lb 8 oz trout that was cruising under our boat, and come back up.
As I break the surface, I see the side of the boat and an oar handle reaching out to me. I grab at the oar, but it’s too far away. The next thing I know, I’m floating down the river with the oar beside me. Okay, now time for an inventory. I’ve still got the guide’s rod and reel in my hand. The fly has snagged on the gunnel so the line is now screaming like I got a tuna. I reach out and grab the oar. Can’t hurt. I even still have my hat on.
Inventory over, its action time. I remember my white water rescue training and put the oar under my left arm, streamward, switch the rod to my right, turn and put my feet together and float downstream, feet up. In this way, I can use the oar as a keel and my feet will bounce off anything that wants to pull me under. Using my arm as a fulcrum, I paddle myself over to shore.
Meanwhile, back at the boat, the quick snap had thrown Mark into Eastwood, tangling the two up. Eastwood pushes Mark away and he then tries to reach me with the oar, finally throwing it at me. Mark and Eastwood then try to turn the boat and come after me. Oopsy, the drag chain is still locked on the log. They get free and then head down to get me.
I’m about 50 to 75 yards downstream. The water was running at about 15,000 cfs, so I moved fairly quickly. I hand Mark the fly rod, Eastwood is relieved. It’s about 1200 bucks worth of equipment and its his. Oh, granted, he’s happy that I’m safe, but that’s a really nice rod. I can totally understand this.
They pick me up, but unfortunately, I’ve no spare clothes. They’re all 15 miles away at the campground. Mark loans me a pair of pants and a shirt. Mark and I are not the same size, so I look like some back country bum with a rope belt.
We fish the rest of the day without much luck. Yes, we catch fish, but more on the size that we got with the chuckin’ and duckin’. None of those 7 to 10 pounders we were looking for.
Oh well, I was fishing and not working.