How To Build A Steelhead Fort - Part 2
In this section, part II, we will discuss the value
of building a steelhead fort and its applications:
BOBLAWLESS, Port Ludlow, WA
The building of such a fort is rather easy, materials are
free and readily available, and sites are numerous. But
let's take this one thing at a time:
1. Such a fort can provide shelter from the elements,
the raw wind and numbing cold, the slashing ice-rains,
the terrible sleet and hail storms, the violent
downpours associated ordinarily with this sport.
2. It can provide protection from unruly mobs and
hooligans often seen roaming the banks of rivers.
3. It can establish a certain "ownership" to places
along the river, giving the builder certain rights
and privileges, e.g. excluding others from fishing
in your spot.
4. A nice place to sleep at night.
5. A congenial meeting place where the owner and friends
can enjoy a libation or two and compare notes of the day.
6. A second home tax deduction.
Site selection: Find a famous or highly productive
holding area on the river. Ignore any crowds that might
be there and begin building your fort. Always have the
door to the fort facing the river and be sure that
approximately one-half of the floor of the fort is
actually in the river. More about this later. Avoid
sites where there might be adjacent pits or holes
within rock throwing distance. There should be no snags,
uprooted stumps or piles of debris which might give
shelter to the enemy (the enemy is defined as anyone
who is not a member of your party or a personal friend).
Should you insist on locating your fort near any of the
previously described objections, you must take care to
remedy the situation. Fill in all holes or pits, burn
snags and debris, etc.
Leave no shelter for the enemy to hide in or a place
to take refuge.
Basic construction: Use only rocks of good quality
(no sandstone) and choose those that are flat on both
sides so as to make for easy stacking. Build first an
outline of the perimeter. Don't get carried away here.
We want a fort not a fishing lodge. Bedrooms are nice
but are optional. The author simply builds a multi-purpose
room, using it for entertaining, sleeping, dining and,
of course, fishing. Stack one course upon another using
standard masonry techniques. Build to armpit height. When
this is accomplished, place a second wall about a foot
or so inside the first wall. When complete, fill the area
between the walls with stones; any sort will do here.
Leave the entrance large enough to get in and out of
and also so that a fish can be lead into the living
area when the fight is over. I employ a steel spike
grate that can be slammed shut over the doorway, keeping
the fish in and the unwanted masses out. Do not construct
How to use: Fly fish as normal. When you get a
fish, hold your ground; stay within the fort.
Don't let the fish pull you out of there. Use the thick
walls to your advantage! When the fish is ready for capture,
simply pull him through the door and slam the gate shut.
When darkness comes, I inflate my air mattress and sleep
in the living room on the rock floor, the dry side.
Once, while using this technique, the water rose during
the night when a big front jammed its way up the river,
flooding everything. I was too tired or too sleepy or
too lazy or too drunk to give a care and I just went on
sleeping. Fortunately the air mattress lifted me up over
the walls (remember: never add a roof) and I was washed
downstream for about 1/2 mile where I got caught up in
this big back eddy. The night passed OK enough but I did
get jabbed every now and again by broken limbs from the
downed trees that were swirling about me. In the morning,
by the dawn's early light, the fort was still there!
For fighting: Remember there will be lots of fighting
over this fort idea so be prepared. Keep nice, baseball
size rocks stacked in pyramids in the corners of your
rooms. These are for throwing, of course. It is best
if you gather your rocks from the immediate area of
the fort so as to leave none for the enemy. But if
no rocks of suitable size are available, then you
must import them. But you must have good rocks. They
are the key to everything, your survival, your comfort,
your walls, etc.
When the enemy comes, and they surely will, throw a
large barrage of stones as fast as you can.
Stay down! Try to make the enemy think that there is
more than just you in the fort. Keep throwing until
all evidence of the enemy is gone. Then go out and
get your rocks back. You may need them again. If there
should be return fire, and there surely will be, take
a peek to determine the direction of fire; now huddle
up tight against the wall from whence the stones are
coming. Protect your eyes as direct hits, while they
will not harm you, could shatter and spray you with
fragments. Between volleys, sneak in a cast or two.
You never know when you might get something.
Happy forting, ~ BOBLAWLESS
Lighter Side Archive