Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
January 31st, 2004

My First Striper or High Speed Trolling
By Frank Reid

When I was 14, fit and full of vim and vigor, I was invited to spend a couple of weeks on the Colorado River near Bullhead City, Arizona during summer vacation. The invite was actually an off handed remark made by my buddy Ron's dad around Thanksgiving, but Ron and I decided it was a go. I would spend two weeks with them at their trailer on the river to "help keep Ron out of trouble." That's the tact we took with Ron's mom and it finally worked.

The night before we were to leave, I remembered to break the news to my mother. She thought it was a wonderful idea, i.e. only six mouths to feed on a widow's income. I had to do some serious wheeling and dealing with my siblings to handle the chores that I had listed. My brothers and sisters tried to veto the whole thing because I was the camp cook around the corral. The chores I had to do when I got back got doubled when they realized they would have to eat my sisters' cooking. Eeeww!

I packed up all my fishing gear (well, my dad's gear) and was waiting on Ron's porch at five a.m. Didn't want to get left behind. Ron's mom came out to get the paper in her nightgown at about 7:30. She was slightly startled as I rose up from next to the planter with the look of man ready for some of those 80lb stripers I'd heard about. I looked around for the Pope Mobile after she screamed "Holy Truck!"

I got stuck in the back of the Olds Vista Cruiser with the luggage for the 400-mile trip through the desert. I didn't care, I wanted one of 'em big ol' bass. Ron's dad even had a boat that Ron and I envisioned taking up and down the river to find those big fish.

It was too late to go fishing when we got there, so the next a.m. Ron and I were on the water at first light. We stayed there all day casting hula poppers and spinner baits. I was using my dad's surf casting rod and reel so I actually spent more time clearing backlashes than fishing.

One nice thing about the local doctor there in Bullhead City, he's use to stupid 14 year olds baking themselves to a crackly crunch in the sun while fishing all day. I didn't even feel the I.V. needle. The downside was that I lost the next three days of fishing, well, three days of moving period. The upside was that I could gross out Ron's sister by popping the blisters.

Since the fishing wasn't going well, when I recovered enough, Ron's dad decided to take us water skiing, Cool. I was obviously a world traveler, well versed in water skiing (I'd seen it on TV), and told them so (not the TV part).

When my turn came, I got up on the skis on about the third try. A little bit rusty doncha know. Ya gotta understand, the boat wasn't really a fishing boat. It had a 454 Olds. A little bit of power there.

After I got up, I tried to readjust my hands, as there was a split in the towrope grips that kept pinching. Something about my thumb going up repeatedly gave Ron's sister, the spotter, the mistaken belief (could'a been revenge for the blister-popping show) that I wanted to go faster. And we did, and we did, and we did.

The wake was beating me up a bit, so I decided to be cool and swing out from behind the boat. Wrongo Keebler, that calm part behind the boat was glass compared to what I encountered.

Terror is a wonderful thing, it lends you skills that you didn't know you had. I saw some calmer water up and to the left so I headed for it. Hey, I can actually control these ARRRGH!

Calm water on the Colorado denotes one thing, a sandbar covered by one inch of water. Hit that sucker at about mach 3. When Ron's dad came running up to me (how odd, this man is running on the water) and after seeing that I was basically all right (save the fact that the skin that hadn't burnt off was now gone via dermabrasion), started laughing hysterically. I personally didn't think it was all that funny.

He then walked back to the edge of the sandbar, bent down for something, and returned with his find. He dropped it next to me and said that dinner was on me.

I looked over and there, lying next to me was about a 15-pound striped bass, still gasping, with a gash three fourths of the way through its side where the skis had cut it. We don't need no stinkin' Hula Poppers. ~ Frank Reid

About Frank:

Born and raised in Southern California, my mother taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000. I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe, from the deserts of California to the Philippines, Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha, Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between. These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore area as a computer consultant trying to earn enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip. My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely daughters. ~ FR
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