Guest Post: Schpanky, Spawn of the Unaccomplished Angler


A not-so-recent photo.

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.


A little river rash

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.”


  1. Howard Levett

    Like father like son, eh?

  2. Derek Young

    Sounds like a fish story to me.

    • Kirk Werner

      Sounds like they got into the Mary Jane to me…

  3. Patrick

    As the genetics, I figure with half my genes my son will inherently only be half as a good a fisherman as I am and will never get ahead of me in terms of experience. But on our last trip, we learned that one doesn’t have to be in the water to risk injury or worse…more on that tomorrow.

    Glad the boy’s okay, but remember that “told ya so” is a clear indication that the speaker made the same or similar mistakes his/herself. Not that us fathers would ever admit it.

    • Kirk Werner

      I made many, far worse mistakes in life than did Schpanky, that’s for sure. I agree with your last statement.

  4. Mrs UA

    Oh my gosh, Nikolas!! I just chewed off all my nails reading this.

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