I took the time and met "Z" and "Linemender" at Rocky
Ford in the middle of Washington State's desert, on a
crisp January day. Linemender was already there when
I arrived, but as I had never met him in person, so I
didn't know it at the time. Z arrived later and I had
a very pleasant day in the company of these two guys.
First off, let me explain something. This is kind of
new for me, as I am usually the consummate "Loner" in
my fly fishing endeavors! I have spent most of my adult
life in the pursuit of fly fishing on uncrowded waters,
by myself or with the girls (wife and daughter), with
maybe the Chessie as my sole companion AND I had no
patience with others interfering on my solitude! I did
not go out of my way to be un-sociable but neither did
I try to "be" sociable. I felt it was my god-given right
to my piece of space while on the water and I had
developed a pretty good stand-offish aura about me.
My wife, bless her, has always just attributed it
to the "cranky old fart" syndrome and let me live my
fishing life as I saw fit! She on the other hand, is
always polite and amiable to everyone. . .on the stream
and life in general! So maybe I am "mellowing" with age
and possibly realizing that I might enjoy this fraternity
of fly fishing even more than I have?
Needless to say, Z and Linemender were great companions
to a newbie on their waters. I arrived at the Ford around
9 a.m. this foggy Sunday morning in January, after taking
a few wrong turns finding my way, rigged up and headed
down to the creek.
My first glimpse of the Ford was from the roadway amid
a million acres of sagebrush canyons and to my surprise
. . .no snow! I left my home in fog, snow and rain
figuring this how the rest of the world looks! The
weather was balmy and I didn't need all my rain gear,
just a long sleeved shirt and fleece jacket. I had
tied on a #14 Orange scud pattern, which Z had
recommended and headed out.
At the footbridge I stopped to get a "feel" for the
water by just watching. . . AND my gawd, there was a
4 or 5 lb. Bow right off the bank in about 2 feet of
water! The water is so clear I could count the spots
and see the brilliant coloration of these fish. Of
course I promptly spooked him as I cast upstream of
him. These bows are very, very leader shy and your
casts need to be presented as drag free and as delicately
as you can. I was about to cross the bridge when I spotted
a behemoth of a trout just upstream of the bridge and figured
I'd give it a try. This water is unlike the pocket waters
and riffles that I favor, where I am fishing the water and
not the fish! Here, you are sight fishing to these bruisers.
Anyway, I did achieve a drift that brought the scud right
up to the nose of this fish. . .and he took! I would love
to be able to describe the ensuing battle with this monster,
but alas, I set way too hard for 6X tippet and snapped it
off! Hopefully no one noticed what I call the ensuing
"GD'it Dance!" By now I was shaking so bad I had to lay
the rod down and wait out the shakes so I could tie on
another fly. This was by far, the largest bow I had ever
set a hook into!
As the morning progressed, I met Z and Linemender,
hooked 3 more monsters, missed some takes and generally
had a great day. Z and Linemender were gracious hosts,
putting me on favored holes, coaching and sharing stories
and at one point arriving with the net as I played a fish
that, again, I lost.
At lunchtime we headed up to the rigs and spent an
hour visiting, sharing stories, trying each other's
coffee and Z pulls out his new cane rod! He rigs it
up and allows me to cast it and drool profusely on it.
He even offers it to me for the afternoon's fishing!
I am still in awe with this gesture. . .I don't think Z
has fished it yet! He knows I crave cane and he also
brought along another that his wife had given him for
Christmas just so I could also drool on it. This is in
no way showing off. Z, through our visits on the Chat
Room and the Bulletin Board here at FAOL, has recognized
a fellow Cane addict and even though he wasn't fishing
them that day, brought them along.
In the afternoon, Linemender put me on a hole with about
6 or 7 big bows stacked up in there, coached me on how to
approach this spot and let me have at it. Again, I hooked
another brute and by the time he made a downstream run
right through Linemender's hole, pulled about 50 feet
of my line out, trashed all the water for the next few
years, he pulled loose. . .of course I had failed to set
Z and Linemender had worked their way downstream and
I stayed in the same spot to try and entice, to no avail,
another of these fish. A young guy had worked his way
down to my spot and began to visit. He did not encroach
on my water. . .he laid his gear down, pulled out a sandwich,
sat on a rock. . .and began to visit. In the following 15
minutes we shared information on his beginnings in fly fishing,
family, why I use a 7'-3wt., his preference in rods, flies
and his desire to try his hand at Steelheading with the
long rod. Again, to my surprise, another pleasant
conversation with somebody that I do not know, about
things that are important to each.
As the day came to an end and we all went our separate
ways, I had time on the drive home to reflect on the day.
I had met and fished with two guys who made my day
pleasurable, hooked the biggest trout of my life and
visited with a fellow fly fisher who took me at face value
as just another member of our fraternity. Next time, I
will get a name to go with the visit!
As I said. . .a pleasant day!
P.S.-I didn't fall in like somebody else did - no names to be mentioned!
~ Stan Hass (aka Skeet)