The Corregated Angler

Do you ever have those days when you go fishing and it seems as though nothing you do makes any difference in the outcome—that no amount of effort put forth is going to change the fact that on this particular day you are simply not going to catch a fish? Days like this can make you feel so ineffective that you may as well be nothing more than a cardboard standup: a single dimensional likeness of yourself that lacks any ability to do more than just be present. I recently had such a trip that made me feel like this. Truth be told I felt like dead weight being carted around all day.

It all started on a recent journey to chase some steelhead on the South Fork of the Clearwater River in Idaho. You may recall that a couple of months earlier I fished the main stem of the Clearwater with a group of old college buddies. On that day, we used spinning gear and either synthetic or real eggs or some combination of the two. That felt fairly dynamic to me as I branched out beyond the fly fishing barriers I had erected over time. But this most recent trip was a fly fishing trip, and on this trip I felt like anything but a dynamic angler.

How I got there is a curious and somewhat hazy recollection. Normally I would drive south and east across the state of Washington, entering into Idaho just before the town of Lewiston, then proceeding up the Clearwater from there. However, such was not quite the case this time. I really have no vivid memory of the drive itself, other than being crammed face down onto the dashboard of a pickup truck under the cloak of darkness in the wee hours of the morning, emerging only when we had arrived at our destination.

When it was light enough to make out the faces of my compadres, I didn’t recognize a single one of them. They consisted of a couple ladies and one guy, none of whom I’d met before in person though I had shared some correspondence via the internet with the two female anglers: Rebecca, of the Outdooress blog and Co-Dictator of the Outdoor Blogger Network; and Emily, of the River Damsel blog. I didn’t then and still don’t know who the dude was.  All I know is that he had a video camera in front of his face for a good part of the day and I was never able to get a good enough look at him to even tell you what he looked like. It didn’t really matter who my fishing companions were. I was “Just Happy to be Here,” or so I was told.

We fished the South Fork of the Clearwater near Grangeville for a few hours, but it was running a bit high which made fly presentation somewhat challenging. I felt particularly inept on this day. Rebecca, who is known for her affinity for all things whitefish, did not disappoint in that regard. I must have said something to piss her off because she literally grabbed that little Rocky Mountain Bonefish and rubbed it in my face.  There wasn’t anything I could do about it – I felt rather helpless, and for the remainder of the day I smelled like whitefish (which may smell worse than a skunk). After this demoralizing escapade we cut our losses and sought out some skinnier water on the Little Salmon.  This diminutive river was more my size, and although I still couldn’t muster a cast to save my life, before too long Rebecca hooked up with a respectable steelhead. When she set the hook it was as if I became a second class citizen. I was literally cast aside and knocked to the ground where I lay amongst the cold, wet rocks on the river bank. From there I managed to witness her land what turned out to be a decent fish. A little dark, and it wasn’t as big as the steelhead I like to catch, but at least it was a steelhead. Not bad for a girl, I suppose.

At the end of the day I felt bent, bruised, tattered and a little soggy.  I hadn’t managed to catch a fish, and quite frankly I felt like I’d done little more than be dragged around by my fishing companions like some sort of inanimate object. But I was “Just Happy to be Here” so I didn’t worry too much about my feelings of inadequacy or lack of dynamic presence. Back at the truck I was once again tossed onto the dash like a piece of cardboard for the ride home (at least the defroster dried me out and warmed me up). I must have nodded off because the drive home was a blur, and when I awoke the next morning it was as if I’d spent a fitful night dreaming strange dreams. I felt not unlike Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (or at least a cardboard version of her): I’d been on a very strange journey, or in this case, a very strange fishing trip.




  1. cofisher

    Wow, what a dream! Kirk, do you dream in color or black & white? Do you still smell like whitefish? Your adoring fans want to know.

    • Kirk Werner

      I dream in muted shades of tan/brown. Imagine the color of a cardboard box. And I still stink, although whether that odor is residue from the whitefish or poor hygeine, I am not sure…

  2. Patrick

    I heard rumors that, for some reason, you had a flat affect during the trip…

    • Kirk Werner

      There wasn’t much substance to the day.

  3. The Trout Underground

    Frankly, I’m bored with your one-dimensional fishing reports, cartoonish graphics and (wait for it…) cardboard-cutout characterizations.

    • Kirk Werner

      Your words are like a box cutter.

  4. Mrs UA

    Hahaha, 🙂 such a card (board)!!

    • Kirk Werner

      When I read your comment the first time, I thought you said, “Such a tard (board)!!” and I wasn’t sure what you meant. But now I get it!

    • Rebecca

      Hi Mrs. UA!

      I was wondering if you could do me a favor?
      Would you mind smackin’ Kirk for that whole “not bad for a girl” remark?

      Or maybe just a little shin kick?

      Or maybe this….I seem to remember you putting the smack down on him last summer when he took you fly fishing with him. Do it again!

      Not bad for a girl indeed!
      Thanks =)

      • Kirk Werner

        Please don’t give her any ideas.

  5. The River Damsel

    Click, click, click those little red shoes! And you might find yourself somewhere else very soon!!! 😉 As I remember, you didn’t really “come to life” until around 7 am…You were such a sleepy head! Dream? I’m afraid not.

    • Kirk Werner

      As long as I’m not headed to Kansas…;)

  6. Rebecca

    Ahhh now…considering I was packing you around all day and a fairly solid witness to the day, I have to say your smile never left your face (even when I dropped you in the water a few times) and you seemed to be having a great time.
    Well, Emily and I were sure laughing a lot =)
    Maybe you’re next trip out East will go better, stay tuned!

    • Kirk Werner

      My question to you, Ms. Outdooress, is why did you draw me with how did you know I have such skinny legs? To say I am looking forward to my trip out East would be a stretch. I have a feeling those guys won’t be so kind to me and I may not return. Thanks for the memories, I think…

  7. Harry

    First read about your day on Rebecca’s site and thought it was hilarious-now I read your version of the day and have to say I loved your version just as much. Nothing like not taking oneself too seriously. Great posts by both of you have made my dreary week a little brighter.

    • Kirk Werner

      I can’t imagine taking myself seriously, Harry- that would be a crime. Glad to spread a little sunshine. I must say I had a blast fishing with Rebecca, I think.

  8. Fontinalis Rising

    Kirk- don’t ever let people tell you you’re one dimensional again. Now thanks to Rebecca we know that you are at LEAST two dimensional. It appears that this outing may have actually improved your fishing success, so congratulations. And just remember- when I was a kid the people who took me fishing had to do things for me like bait the hook and tell me when to set it. Just because Rebecca and Emily had to do, well, EVERYTHING, for you is nothing to be ashamed of. ; )

    • Kirk Werner

      I’ll admit I did sorta like being catered to all day long. It’s like I didn’t have to even wipe my…nose.

  9. Brett Colvin


    I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that your likeness is not anatomically correct, and bears a strong resemblance to Mr. Hankey wearing a Seattle Sombrero.

    The fact that Rebecca “unceremoniously tossed you to the ground” while outfishing you shortly before she heads off to Andros for bonefish is really a hammer blow to guys of the male gender in all corners of the globe.

    I’m here for you, man.

    • Kirk Werner

      Brett, there’s so much that is unflattering about my cardboard likeness that it may well be anatomically correct…just too small to see with the naked eye. I can only speculate what Rebecca may have been trying to communicate. The blows have been coming repeatedly. I got nothin’ left that hasn’t been crushed already.

  10. Owl Jones

    Sore back? You looked a little..umm…..stiff.

    I could NOT help myself.

    • Kirk Werner

      Owl, you’re a card, sir. A real card. Board. Cardboard. Get it? Uh…never mind.

  11. chris bone

    The only way I am going to get out fishing is if I leave a cardboard cut of myself to replace myself at home and work.
    fish hunt

    • Kirk Werner

      It’s worth a shot, Chris.

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