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 myself...is that Stan? Naw...too young...Is that
Stan?...Naw...to fat...you 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
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