This week’s drivel is a mostly-unedited guest post by none other than Morris, the 2012 Firehole Rookie Ranger. He has an unhealthy obsession with fly fishing that I’ve had the pleasure of watching intensify over the last year or so. We writes good, and has no oconcern for character count so sit back and enjoy a bowl of popcorn and a read about a day on the Yakima River befitting an Unaccomplished Angler.
When the Unaccomplished Angler asked me to write a post about my debacle on the Yakima River, first I was like no chance in hell, then I thought why not – If the UA can do it, then so can I. Although, sometimes it feels like I only have a fourth grade education when it comes to writing the English language as I have lost almost all what my elementary teachers taught me, but as both UA and myself graduated from one of the top universities in the country Eastern Washington, I was convinced I could do it – really, how hard can it be. Not to mention, I am a published author in my own right. Recently, I was forced extremely happy to submit an article to a widely read industry magazine – Quality something. Don’t be fooled, a handful of nuclear power plant operators actually read this magazine or at a minimum leave it on their desk to appear intelligent – at least this is what I typically do. (By the way, I promise to stop striking out phases, but I just love the way the UA does it to confuse the reader).
It all started as I walked through the sliding glass doors at work Friday morning 8:00 AM sharp. I was wearing my favorite Simms fishing shirt and donning my polarized fishing glasses. I happen to work for a fine company that requires employees like myself to merely show up to get paid for the day. As I grind the way to my desk, I start to contemplate just how long I have to sit there as I mentally go through my fishing check list ensuring nothing has been forgotten. Promptly at 8:30 AM, I find myself creating a web of lies to our administrative assistant who guards the front door like a Doberman and probably logs our time in and out. “I have an outside appointment today, but plan to return after lunch,” I lie. She does not buy into my dishonesty, and probably knows the car is packed with my fishing gear as it is most Fridays. In hindsight I should have left my shirt and glasses in the car, and I was a tad too enthusiastic for the mundane appointment, but I was getting that goin’ fishin’ feeling and that was all I could think about.
As I pull into the empty parking lot at 10:00 AM to a not so secret fishing spot Marck recommended on the upper Yakima Canyon. I believe Marck is his secret UA alias; this is not his real name. I know this since I fish regularly with Marck and have known him since middle school. As I string up my rod, I am gracious that life affords me sunny Fridays on the Yakima, flows around 3100cfs, time to explore nature, and attempts to master the art of catching large trout. Selecting my old 5 weight Sage, large dry with a lightening bug dropper, I am set.
Part I: The miss
As I cautiously approach a large fallen tree in the river, I am eager to see what lies below. Now on top of the tree, flunking weak casts at my feet. I should have previously declared that I am strung up with 9’ of 5X leader, 3’ of 5X flora, and 2’ dropper: all making log casting to ones feet a challenge. With too much line in the water and a poor rod to water angle, a large rainbow grabs the dry while launching completely out of the water where I probably could have bear-hugged him if I was more nimble. As I attempt to set the hook, it is obvious my approach was flawed. The hog spits my bug and is gone. As I regain my composure, I say to myself, “not a great way to start the day, but it can only get better from here.”
Part II: The poison
As I leave the large log for a stretch up river where I will have more room to cast, I decide to hightail it through the brush and grass and not follow the slow shore of the river. This will turn out to be the infamous “fork in the road’ decision that will affect the rest of my day. As I trudge through very high grass and weeds and other unknown plant species, I get disoriented and somewhat lost. As my pace quickens, I trip and fall to the ground a few times and eventually make my way back to the river. After fishing for a bit, I notice some pretty large blisters forming on my arms and legs. I ignore them and get back in search of my next victim which I am sure not to miss. As the morning meanders on the itching and swelling continues to be a nuisance. But it wasn’t until my eye started to swell shut that I started to ponder calling it a day. I tried feebly to continue casting, but as the discomfort grew so did my anxiety. Fishing alone has its advantage and disadvantages as we all know, but when I used the camera on my phone to take a picture to see how bad my eye was, I knew having a friend there to tell me all is well or not so well would have been nice. As my casting deteriorated further and grew impossible with one eye, I decided to seek safety.
Part III: The scared girl
I scurried back to the parking lot so I could use the car mirror to inspect my eye and make the ultimate decision of fish or hospital. Again to save time, I head back into the tall unforgiving grass. As I broke free from the brush in delight, I happen upon a pretty college aged lady sunbathing near a small tributary in nothing but a slight bikini. Instead of staring at her girl parts and making stupid old man commentary, I hastily shoved my left eye in her face and asked if it looks ok. She nods, but I sensed she was uncomfortable and not really into my whole eye issue.
Part IV: New location
After a thorough eye exam in the dirty side mirror of my car with the one good eye remaining, I decide to fish on. Playing it safe though, I decide to drive further down river into the canyon where there is less vegetation. After a few small fish during the heat of the day, everything is starting to feel better up to the point when I find myself on a large rock in the river and in need of a new fly. Instead of heading to shore like a wise person would, I commence with the fly change. Opening my dry bag I forget to notice all of my belonging as I dig for the fly box. As I precariously balanced on the rock with a red deep rash all over and one good eye, needless to say I ended up face down in the river. As I came to my feet I noticed the dry bag was still open and filled to the top with water. Luckily nothing had vanished to the river and the only real damage was to the iPhone and luckier still, it was a work phone.
Part V: Early departure / Good Samaritan
As evening approached with anticipation of the late hatch, I sat quietly by the riverside pondering the day’s events. This time, I was approached by a weary traveler in search of some help. After some pleasantries, he asked if he could borrow my phone to call for help. After explaining to him the difficulties there, I offered up a ride to town where he could find some real help. Before I could recant my offer as my mind turned back to the hatch, he accepts and I hastily depart for town. I thought that perhaps being a good Samaritan might put me back in grace with whatever force I upset this morning. Now missing the evening bug fest along with my hope of redemption, my one-eyed-drive back to Seattle was uneventful. Until I arrived at home and realized that in my hurried blurry departure I did not shore up my tackle and badly damaged my favorite Ross reel.
By the next morning I had fixed my reel and most of the rash and swelling were gone yet my legs where still covered with scrapes and bruises one typically finds after a hard day on the river. Looking back now I realize that not every fishing trip is going to the perfect experience but it is still and will forever be better than a day at work.
Taller and better looking than his old man, Schpanky is also a superior fisherman. But genetics are a powerful force and he cannot escape his breeding: antics from a recent trip to the Yakima River confirm that he is truly my spawn.
I recently turned over my backup 4 weight Sage Launch rod and Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor reel to the boy. I’m not overly attached to any of my gear—it’s all replaceable. Therefore the backup gear cannot be considered something to which I have any great emotional attachment. I am, however, rather cheap and would hate to have to spend money to replace gear if, perhaps, said gear were lost…
Schpanky writes (unedited):
Due to my inconsistent work schedule or two random weekdays off, it’s not very often I get the chance to get out of Town and do something, but if I get the opportunity, I will. Gil, a buddy of mine, texted me asking if I wanted to go fish in Cle Elum with him on a Wednesday (luckily, one of my days off.)
The next morning we headed to Easton from North Bend for an afternoon on the river before Gil left for his summer fish guiding job in Alaska. The river was looking good for being a little high. Clear water and a handful of fishy lookin’ holes, what more could a wannabe fish bum want? Geared up and ready to go, we broke the seal from dry to wet as we waded in the river discussing our game plan and securing our feet in the current. The rust chipped off as I did a few warm up casts and proceeded to snag a tree branch like it was a tradition. I waded out to about my waist fishing a particular spot just above a log jam with some swift water moving through it. Like a scene from a movie, I had a flashback to me as a much younger boy, listening to my father describing the dangers of getting caught in a log jam, and how you could possibly not walk away from it. I had never had any trouble like that before so I thought nothing of it.
A few casts later I felt a tug on my line and instinctively set the hook. Could it be? Was an overly excited and loud “FISH ON!” to be heard echoing throughout the woods this early on in the day? Of course not, just a snag. It wasn’t coming loose and I could wade to it to save the flies so I proceeded to do so. I moved down river and was able to knock the log loose I was snagged on with my foot. However, my flies stayed hooked and floated down river still attached to the rather large log. Due to the fact that the water was moving swiftly where I was, it was hard to walk backwards upriver with the drifting log pulling me down river. Scrambling, hopping and already crying for my mommy, I looked up to see I was slowly being forced to hop down river towards the log jam I earlier spotted. The closer I got to the jam, the deeper and faster the water was getting until finally I felt my feet giving out. I knew right away I wasn’t getting back to shore without getting wet, so at the last second I jumped as far as I could towards the safest part of the log jam (if that exists…?) and hooked the longest log in my elbow. Water was rushing into my waders as I threw my left arm over another log and pulled myself up just enough that I wouldn’t float away when I realized I was missing something. The rod! As if almost getting sucked into a log jam wasn’t enough of a downer way to start the day, loosing your fathers rod that he loves more than you will be free pass to belt lashes. I yelled to Gil to see if he could spot it drifting down river, but it was nowhere in sight. Now standing on top of the log jam, I stripped down to my whitey tighties and drained water out of my waders. Gil and I decided to walk down river in hopes of spotting the rod. I knew we wouldn’t find it with the water being as high as it was and moving so quickly in this area, but hey, at least we could say we tried. We walked back onto a bridge that crosses the river and started to scan the waters for any signs of the rod. Nothing. As we turned away to walk back to the car to dry my clothes off, a pink blur caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I made out a faint lime green line in the river with a pink ball attached to it.
“Gil! There it is, see the strike indicator?” We thought we’d never see the rod again, but there was the fly line and indicator in a reachable spot of the river. Since I wasn’t in my waders, Gil waded out to the fly line and tried to snag it without getting wet. As a last resort, he heroically dunked half his body under and grabbed the rod that was somehow still in one piece and so far had no damage. I jumped with glee and thanked Gil for sacrificing his dry clothing for my fathers’ rod. The log I had snagged drifted about 100 yards down river before it somehow wedged itself between two rocks in the perfect way to stop the rod from drifting off to Narnia where it would never be found again. As a bonus, the flies and line were still attached which I am going to take credit for since I tied perfect lucky knots that held.
Next time I go fishing, I’m bring a quick-inflating boat so I can paddle to safety…or maybe one of these.
All joking aside, I’m relieved the boy made it out unscathed as it could have ended badly. His mother would never have forgiven me had he been injured or worse. Thankfully there was no harm, no foul. The previously-spotless reel now has some character wrinkles and a story. Thankfully so does the lad.
And I get the satisfaction of being able to say, “Told ya so.”
Guest posts are typically blog entries written by someone other than myself (thus, the “guest” designation). Because I am not responsible for the nature of the content provided by guests, judgment should be reserved for them—not me.
My buddy Jimmy recently returned from a family-type float trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. He was accompanied by his two oldest daughters and his mom. Jimmy and I have been good friends for a lot of years, and he’s a great guy to fish with, although he does need to read pages 3 and 4 from A River Runs Through It. Other than that, his “social appropriateness filter” probably needs changing (or upgrading) which means that his writing isn’t quite appropriate for publication. By that I mean that if left to his own devices, Jimmy’s story would be wrought with words and themes that are not appropriate for a wholesome forum such as this. Given his tendencies toward colorful descriptives and the like, I have taken his information and edited out indecencies while still attempting to keep the flavor of his experience in tact. Remember, I have left all material intact that I deemed appropriate:
“Fished the Middle Fork of the Salmon…Caught a lot of nice cutthroats…Had a rather pleasant time.”
And that’s all that I felt comfortable publishing.
Surely, I jest! Jimmy’s not so foul that I couldn’t post his retelling of the trip so here you go, in Jimmy’s own words (my comments, for clarification, are in red):
Middle fork of the Salmon, started outside Stanley, Idaho. Put in at Boundary Creek (elevation 5,700 feet); take out at Cache bar 100 mi downstream and a drop of 2700 feet. Blue ribbon dry fly for West Slope Cutthroat, in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the largest mountain wilderness in the US (2.361 million acres).
Outfitter was Hughes River Expeditions (recommended by UA, fyi). Trip was 6 days & 5 nights. First couple of days were white water class 3 & 4 rapids, days 3, 4 and 5 were great fishing water. Fished mostly with orange stimulator, or a rubber legged stonefly with a bead head pheasant tail nymph dropper, and a caddis. Had probably 8-12 double hook-ups where first fish would take the nymph and the second would chase the dry thru the water and grab it (yeah, right). Averaged 40-60 day in the 12-16 range fishing about 4-5 hrs (bullshit). Nice fat fish that had been feeding on salmon flies.
Food, guides, trip awesome for all ages. Some float boats, paddle boats, and single person kayaks. Sections remind me of the Yakima on steroids with deeper canyon walls, fresher water, larger and many more fish (so, really, nothing like the Yakima). Shit (stop swearing, Jimmy) even Payton (Jimmy’s 16 year old daughter) caught 10 fish her first day attempting fly fishing in 2 hrs (riiiight). Found a nice beaver trap probably 100+ years old, and a nice fly chest pack with a nice Orvis CFO reel made in England in it with a lot of flies, leaders, ect. It had a fishing license from a gentleman who lives in Knoxville, Tenn. Damnit!! (I assume this means you contacted him and returned the goods?)
Something for everyone on this trip. Will fill you in on “butt darts” later. (inquiring minds want to know)
For the record, Jimmy did return the vest to the very grateful gentleman from Tennessee. Turns out the owner of the vest had left it on the shore a month or so ago earlier and had hoped that the fly fishing gods. He also sent some photos which I’ve posted here for your viewing enjoyment, with captions provided by Jimmy:
I asked if anyone got into the Poison Ivy. Jimmy said, “No, but glad I did not have to shit because those are about the biggest leafs that were available.”
Thanks, Jimmy. Sounds like a great trip combining family fun with ample, and exceptional, fly fishing.
This is a guest post from a buddy of mine who currently guides for native steelhead on the chalk streams of Central Texas. The story is true. The names and certain locations may have been changed to protect the identities of those concerned. For example, there really aren’t steelhead in the chalk streams of Central Texas.
Shitty Clients, Part I
By the Unknown Fishing Guide
Let me preface this story (so that I don’t sound like a jack-ass holier than thou guide who cares nothing about teaching, education, conservation and only about catching fish) with the fact that out of the 1,000+ guide trips I have ran in the last 10 years, there have been exactly 2 people I would never fish with again. In fact one of the best things that guiding has given me is great relationships with people from around the country that I have met as fishing clients and with whom I have became very close friends.
This particular gentleman, we’ll call him Dick, started out our trip in a particularly interesting way. After the normal morning “hey hows it going, here’s where we are floating, here’s what to expect” we hopped in my pickup and drove down into the Yakima canyon. About 2 miles out of town, Dick says: “You know, Fords are pieces of shit, you need to get a GMC.” Ok, I thought, I’ve had good luck with my truck, but he’s welcome to his opinion. We continue down the road, making small talk, and he follows up the truck comment with this gem: “Eastern Washington is the ugliest piece of shit I have ever seen, it’s full of nothing but hillbillies and rednecks”. I thought that was a little rough, especially from someone from Boston, and who had seen two of the prettier places in Washington: The Klickitat and Yakima canyons. Certainly there were our share of Hillbillies in the 509, but no more than anywhere else in the west, and substantially less than Idaho. However, I was still going to college, and although an asshole so far, some people turn it around when your fishing, and I really needed the money.
We finally arrived at the river, got the boat in the water, and rowed down to a nice pod of trout eating blue wings. The night before we fished together, Dick and my boss had dinner together, and had talked about the Green river in Utah, one of the better trout factories in the country. For those of you unfamiliar with the Yakima, it will never be mistaken for the quality of the Green. It is a unique river with it’s proximity to Seattle, but at 1,300 trout per mile in it’s densest stretch it can’t hold the jock strap of the Green. Dick quickly caught two trout out of the pod, and completed the trifecta, “This Yakima is just like the Green” he said “full of dumb fucking trout”.
The third time was the charm, and I realized at this point that nothing I could do as a fishing guide was going to please Dick, so I gave advice as needed, treated him as nicely as I could, and continued to work hard to put him on fish. On our second day of fishing we floated half of the day before a monsoon that had engulfed the state of Washington caught up to us, and the river blew out. Still several miles from the finish line, this provided Dick an opportunity to share with me his knowledge and firm belief in Bigfoot. Were it not for this hour long discussion I would have never learned that Bigfoot is most certainly real, and can turn your brain off with alpha brain waves. Dick was particularly interested in the time I had spent in Forks, one of the more popular Bigfoot spots around. Of course I couldn’t help leading him on a little bit, and after two days of dealing with his shitty attitude towards life, at least the last hour was entertaining.
We hope you enjoyed this guest post by the Unknown Fishing Guide. The staff at the Unaccomplished Angler hope to bring more, similar stories in the future, as evidenced by the “Part 1” designation in the title. If you are an Unknown Fishing Guide and need a safe, anonymous forum in which to
vent tell your story, please contact our editorial offices. Your secret is safe with us.
This is the first ever Guest Blog on the Unaccomplished Angler. The point of this entry is to share with my reading audience the details of an exotic trip— to travel vicariously through someone else (if you wait around for the Unaccomplished Angler to take a trip to the Bahamas you’ll grow old waiting). The following entry comes from my friend Sir Lancelot, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of fishing and also the privilege of cleaning his BBQ grill. Aside from being the first, this may be last guest entry to grace these pages. Please note that I have not edited this story for content or tone. My intent was to make only corrections with regard to the countless errors in spelling and punctuation but grew weary of that, so you may find some errors. Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are not my own, nor does the Unaccomplished Angler accept responsibility should you experience certain side effects such as nausea, vomiting, bloat, indigestion, dizziness, ringworm and memory loss.
Is it Really Better in the Bahamas?
By Sir Lancelot
Is it really better in the Bahamas? That is a hard question to answer as the frequency from “Mrs. Better in the Bahamas” didn’t seem to suggest that it was, but that is another part of the story all together. We took a fine family vacation to a little community called Spanish Wells (think North end of Eluthera) over Christmas. We rented a little house right on the beach and had fun, fun, fun. Our partners in crime were the Helpin family (I changed the name to protect their identity). The Helpins have children similar ages to our own, the father likes to fish and our wives get along, so it was a good match.
When I got home I sent an email to my friend, Mr. Unaccomplished Angler, to see if he would like a write up of my trip. He responded with something along the lines of “F___ you for going to the Bahamas.” I was expecting something a little more cordial and appreciative of my efforts but no, all I got was a “F___ you” for it. I shouldn’t be surprised and I kind of had it coming. Last summer while sitting on the side of the Yakima River he (UA) floated by about six inches away from my own boat. The guys I was fishing with didn’t know that I knew Kirk The UA. So, when I looked up and said, “Get the F___ out of my hole,” with a straight face they were worried that I was picking a fist fight. Needless to say no fight broke out and we all managed to catch a few small fish that day.
Spanish Wells is little community of about 1500 people on an island called St. Georges Cay in the Bahamas. It is the quintessential quaint little fishing village. The people there are all lobster fishermen. The fish processor has the supply contract with Red Lobster and we can attest that it is very good eating. Usually when I have traveled to the tropics in the past the people have been in one of three categories: The first one is desperately poor. Although I feel for these people, and do some things for them, it is often hard to see and be around when I’m maxing out my credit cards on a vacation. The second category is incredibly rich. Although these people often feel for me, they don’t do anything about it. The third category is your average Joe like me who are trying to look incredibly rich for one week. The people of Spanish Wells didn’t fit into any of these categories. They were average Joe’s of the middle class: Nice people, not pretentious and just going about their lives. It was a lot of fun being around a bunch of schmucks like me. The North side of the island faced the reef and had sugar-fine sandy beaches. There were also some nice bonefish flats there as well. The south side of the island contained the harbor.
We stayed in a house on the beach (Ocean Dream Beach Cottage). Mrs. Better in the Bahamas would have none of me staying by the boat. Prices were reasonable: $1,800 rented a 3 bed 2 ½ bath house during high season and it was right on the beach. $250 rented a 14’ Boston Whaler for the week and another $250 rented a golf cart. It’s really cool to drive the golf cart everywhere and you drive it on the left hand side of the road. Mrs. BITB is still yelling at me every time I pull out of the driveway to be careful and drive on the right. The owners and hosts of the house are Jody and Tara Pinder. They are wonderful! Catered to our every need, were there to help, not too close and just genuine, caring, fun people. Their children didn’t fall far from the tree and when we arrived home and got a new puppy she received the name Kali, after the Pinder’s youngest daughter Kaliston.
Spanish Wells is a dry island but don’t let that be of too much concern to you casual drunks. The liquor store is at the dock on Eluthera, only a 200 yard boat ride away. Kahik beer was the local favorite and we consumed it by the barrel. The rest of your favorite brands of hard alcohol were available there as well. The best deal (as you can tell I’m a frugal basta__) was the duty-free shop in the Nassau airport. $18 bought a 1000 ml bottle of Crown Royal. That was a great deal.
Now that the house keeping is done it’s onto the important part: fishing. We fished for bottom fish most days. It’s easy, was close-by and our kids loved it. We caught the local favorites such as Porgys, Grunts, Groupers, Triggers and other bottom fish. No one worried about Ciguatera and no one got sick so I guess it was OK. On a side note there are lots of Lion fish in the Bahamas. They don’t belong there as they originated in the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t catch any while fishing but saw them frequently while snorkeling. I speared one, we ate it and it was delicious. It seems weird to me that a fish I used to pay $50 for in an aquarium store sat on my plate and was gobbled up.
My good friend Mr. FFred Helpin was in house one day. I was sitting down on the beach with our wives and the kids. We were just sitting there relaxing and taking in the sun, sand and water. All of a sudden we hear the word, “F___ ” (don’t think FFred) come screaming out of the house. The girls looked at me like I would know what to do. I thought it was them who would know what to do with that word, but nonetheless I had to go and deal with it. I trudged up the beach and back to the house expecting to see something horrendously wrong. Well, I was right. Here is my friend FFred up on a chair, his face is beet red and he’s so pissed off he’s just about ready to explode. You see FFred had just had a little incident with his fly rod and the ceiling fan. There was about 50 yards of fly line draped in several large loops hanging down between the blades. In addition the last 4 inches of FFred’s fly rod hung as limply as the last 4 inches of himself. It really was horrendous, fly line tangled in the ceiling fan and a busted rod to boot. As his good friend, I put on an Oscar-class performance by not laughing myself into an early heart attack. I calmly helped him unravel and then we headed to the tackle shop for some epoxy and thread. A few hours and a large portion of our Kalik beer later FFred and his fly rod seemed to be on the mend. (Editorial comment: Had the UA been present, there would have been photographic documentation of this debacle)
The wind blew while were there quite a bit. Between our schedule, the wind and the guide’s schedule, we didn’t get out Bonefishing until one of the last days. There are good numbers of Bonefish on the flats of Spanish Wells and Eluthera and they don’t get much pressure, either. None of us had ever fished for them before, so I’m told my ineptitude at catching them is typical. I’ll keep telling myself that story anyway. We did see a fair number of them. We waded across the flats, had them follow our flies and the kids of course managed to catch a few. John Roberts was our guide (242.557.7794). He is a nice man, a good guide, and very knowledgeable about the sea and the animals we saw in and around it. He also had fun and worked well with our kids. Our day on the flats also sent us away with a good number of conch, which are excellent table fare.
Over all we had an excellent vacation, met some very nice people, caught some fish, had a lot of fun and oh, by the way, it is Better in the Bahamas.
Thanks to Sir Lancelot for experiencing such a lavish vacation, and for taking the time to write up your account of your adventures. I assume by “it” you mean “fishing.” You suck.