May 31st, 2004

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Falling In
By Steve Zweber ("Z")

I've only fallen in once.

It occurred at Rocky Ford Creek, WA. I was fishing with some new friends at the time, Linemender (Mr. Frito Bandito, or Cary as we sometimes call him ) and Stan. This was the second time I had met Stan, had run into him for a few brief moments at Denny's chicken farm the summer before. I arrived at the creek and strung my gear up...walked down to the water and made my way across the bridge to the lower creek.

I was looking at every fishermen I passed, thinking to that Stan? Naw...too young...Is that Stan? understand.

I finally passed a likely candidate, but didn't say anything, just proceeded to fish below him. After a while of no catching, I made my way up stream. I passed the gentleman with a hello, and he returned it, I finally said in a not so sure voice..."Stan?"

To which he replyed..."Z?" Well from that point on, we were instant friends. He told me of the fish he had hooked earlier in the morning, as he told it, it was the biggest trout he'd ever seen. The Moby Dick of the Ford but, to both of our dismay, the fishing had slowed. That could mean one thing, and one thing only. Cary was about to arrive.

Now, you may think this is fiction, but I know it for fact. Every time my friend Cary arrives at the creek, the fishing slows down. I dont know how that works, to listen to him, the fishing is always great. I've heard so many tales of days catching countless fish that there has to be some truth to it. But from my experience, I can be catching a fish with every other cast and when Cary shows up, it turns into another ho-hum day on the creek.

I know one of us is a story teller, but me, I've always kind of been tight lipped. But then, maybe he says the fishing always slows down when I arrive.

So, there we are, on the creek, the three of us, casting to our hearts content, changing flies after so many drifts, dropping tippet sizes down to stuff so thin that if a fish even looked in it's direction it would break. And Stan says "I think it's time for lunch" to which we all agree, and proceed to go to the parking lot to share coffee and lunch with each other.

We talk of fish caught, flies tied and rods we like, heck, we even string up a few of the extra rods we brought and play with them in the parking lot. And, after awhile, we know we can't put it off anymore. We have to go back to the creek and fish.

Did I mention it was cold out? The kind of Eastern Washington cold where the wind is blowing, and the clouds look like they should be dropping snow. The kind of cold where you really don't want to catch a fish because you would have to put your hand in the water to release it, and then the chill goes up your arm to your body until you have the shakes, all because you caught one fish? Well, yup, it was one of those days.

We get back to the reason we all we there, fishing. I had worked my way down the creek to the end of the public water. I was working on my casting, doing my best to get the line out beyond my feet without getting the leader tangled into a mess that would take more then an hour to untie.

I was catching all sorts of things, sagebrush that happened to float downstream, reeds that would jump up with the grace of a swan to catch my backcast, grass that seemed to want my fly more then I did, at least enough to put up a struggle. When, much to my dismay, I did a double-handed, one toe, loop under/over cast I had been working on for days, and wouldn't you know it, my fly settled upon the slow moving water with nary a ripple. I let the fly float downstream, paying upmost attention to the slightest hint of drag and, I would like to say a fish of high intelligence rose to take my offering, but, it wasn't to happen this time.

Not much later, while the two finer friends I was with were upstream, I happened to let out a cast I wished for no one to see. The fly splashed down like a cinder block on the smooth water, and as it halfway floated downstream I noticed a knot in my leader sitting upon the water. Well, maybe it wasn't a knot, more like a loop-de-loop. One of them you get when you fail to stop your backcast, or keep the rod tip up or drag your leader thru a briar patch. Yet, to my dismay, I saw a trout rise to my oh so poor offering as it sat there leaving a wake like a CrisCraft. With much luck, I set the hook, played the fish to me without the line departing and landed my first fish of the day!

Cary had seen my rod bending with the joy of happiness and had ran downstream to catch on film the joy of the moment. I pulled the fly from the fishes mouth, pulled it so gently out of the net, turned to smile and say cheese and found out I had a camera shy fish. No sooner than I started my turn, the fish decided he wanted to go back to the water from which he came, he wiggled so quick and with such skill that he took the hands that were holding him so gently with him, and seeing how the hands were connected to me, I had to follow.

Now if you recall from fishing the Ford, the banks tend to drop off rather steep. You may also recall the creek has a mud bottom - let me attest to that, it has a very deep mud bottom. I'm standing in the creek to my waist in water, sinking so slowly I can count the degrees of angle from the sun as it sets thru the clouds. I try to lift a foot, it doesn't move. I try the other foot. It doesn't move. Now you have to realize that all this time Cary is standing over me with his camera, clicking away, chuckling away as I start to panic.

I'm stuck in the creek and this dang fool is wanting to take pictures!

I call out, "help" no reaction from my friend. So I try it again. All I hear is the clicking of the camera. Finally, I let out a string of cuss words with a "HELP" at the end and he finally moves to help me. We both struggle to release me from the creeks hold, but with much determination and feats of great strength I finally am able to roll on to the mud covered bank. The lower half of my vest is wet, my jeans are soaked, my shirt is wet also. You do recall there is no wading at this creek, so of course I wasn't wearing waders. So I turn around to thank Cary for his help and it appears that he has shrunk in size. Upon closer examination, I realize he has sunk almost to his knees in the shoreline mud.

My first question to him he replied to in the negative, "No you can't use my camera!"

So I began to admire his fine nine foot 4wt fly rod. After a few moments I figured out there wasn't a flock of noisy geese flying overhead, it was my friend wanting me to give him a hand! So, being the gentleman I am, I helped him out of the mud, he thanked me as only friends can, with a few cuss words and a handshake.

We made our way back upstream to find Stan merrily casting away. You notice I don't use the word fishing, that's because, to me, fishing involves fish, and he hadn't bothered a fish in quite some time.

He looks at me, and laughs and ask's me the time aged question, "did ya fall in?"

As we made our way back to the parking lot, it dawned on me that the last time I saw the spare change of clothing I had packed was at home. So, I warm up the truck, strip to my long johns and bid farewell to my friends.

As I drive away with the heater going full blast and the windows rolled up, I swear I heard a laugh or two. ~ Steve

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