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.