Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
March 5th, 2001

Lost in the Dark

by R.L. "Bob" Nunley, Poteau, OK

I had been fishing in the most of a hot August day on the Lower Mountain Fork River in Southeast Oklahoma, without much luck. One small brown trout about 12 inches was all the day's fishing produced. A bit bored with the way the fishing was going, I decided to drop by Beavers Bend Fly Shop. I met a gentleman at the Fly Shop, a very nice young man, who is considered by many to be a "Mountain Fork Expert". I told him about the days action, or lack of it, and he invited me to fish the Hexagenia Hatch in the deep part of the river, except that he had a pontoon boat for the deep water, and I did not! Luckily, he knew of a place where I could hike in and fish it from the shallows. I was game for it and, let me tell you, I had a blast! We got into rainbows and browns until it was too dark to see. After that, we just kept casting, and when we heard something rise in the vicinity of our flies, just set the hook. I lost count, but landed well in excess of 20 trout (stopped counting at 14), in the 12" to 18" range, mostly rainbows, but did catch one 16" brown trout.

Not particularly being the vision of grace, I have fallen in many rivers, but that night was the topper of all my falling adventures. If you've never fished the Lower Mountain Fork River, beware, it has, undoubtedly, the slickest rocks I have ever seen in all my years of flyfishing. I ll fell twice. . . in the same spot. . . off the same rock!!! The first fall just put me up to my neck in 53 degree water. Yes, it was cold, and I was wet wading to begin with. On the second fall, I had moved to the edge of the rock where I "thought" it wouldn't be quite as slippery, and fell and hit my thigh about mid-point, on the corner of the rock. I honestly thought that I had broken my leg, which was black as your hat the next day. While sitting there moaning, a Bow rose about 10 feet from me, and from my non-ambulatory position in the river, I cast to him and caught him. I even landed him without removing my sore butt and my throbbing leg from the rock on which I landed. In any case, the leg was not broken, although I did sport a pretty good limp for a few days!

Finally the hexagenias stopped coming off and the fish stopped rising, so it was time to head out of the river. Preparing to start the short trek back to my car, I discovered that, apparently, during one of my falls, I had lost my flashlight, so I had to hike in the dark on a moonless night, what should have been about a quarter of a mile through flat woods back to the car. Keep in mind, there was no sign of the moon, and the tree canopy was so thick you couldn't see the stars. Did you ever notice how you can't remember in the dark if the moss grows on the north side or the south side of the tree? Well, I think I covered somewhere close to 6 miles. My legs look like I've been tortured by two angry Tom Cats. Like I said, I was wet wading, and had on my wading boots and nylon shorts . . . well now they look like nylon dubbing, and they certainly weren't much protection for the legs. I hit every briar patch in the woods, and probably some of them twice (yes, I WAS lost for awhile, but geez, there wasn't anyone to ask directions from! I tried talking to the Owls, but all they would say is WHO, WHO and I really wanted to know WHERE? WHERE?). I am now on first name bases with every low hanging limb in Southeast Oklahoma!

On my "altered" route back to the car, I finally saw a car go by on a road not 50 feet from where I was standing. As the headlights passed, I scanned the forest, and saw a treeless path to the road. The ground looked flat and level, no big rocks sticking up, so I set out in a long stride for the road. About 10 steps into this "power walk" the whole world disappeared from beneath my feet. I had fallen down a ravine. It seemed to be bottomless, but I found out later it was only about 6 feet deep. The ground really did look flat in the glow of those headlights and besides, there were no ravines the way I went in, and I really think someone dug that sucker while I was on the river! I did save the rod, but didn't do too good of a job of saving my back, ribs and derrier. All were extremely sore, as were my feet, knees and neck! The abrasion over the right eye was no big deal . . . it would heal faster than the rest of me!

After climbing out of the ravine and carefully feeling my way to the road, my new fishing partner, who had floated downstream to his truck, finally found me walking down a road about 3 miles from where we went in (keep in mind that we were only fishing about a quarter mile from the car) and took me back to my vehicle. After verifying that I would survive and that the bloody mass on my legs was just briar and limb scratches, he mentioned the Walleye that fed below the Power House late at night. Not having enough common sense to give up and go home, we went on to the Power House to fish some more. I stayed for awhile, and had one fish on, and a few hits on a Clauser, then I told him I didn't think my body could take any more fishing for the night, and I headed home.

All in all, a pretty good night of fishing! Matter of fact, an excellent night. However, I truly think we need to re-classify flyfishing as a contact sport, cause I look worse than I used to in my Football days!

Now . . . Anyone want to go fishing with me? I seem to have problems finding a fishing partner that can handle "Flyfishing with Bob's Rules." Maybe, because I consider that night to be a GREAT fishing adventure!

One last note . . . all of the fish were caught on a 5'6" 2pc 4wt cane rod . . . she never wavered, even when we were boulder fishing in that ravine, somewhere in the dark in McCurtain County, Oklahoma! ~ R.L. Bob Nunley

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