I pulled into the campsite two hours late. Storm clouds were brewing, and I thought it wise to get set up before seeking out the magnanimous Matthew Dunn of Fishbeer fame. Anxious to fish, I pitch my trusty pre-Black Diamond Bibler with speed and efficiency, then rig up my rods before heading over to the water. A momentary glimpse back to the residences for the evening, I can’t help but think I’m about to meet a modern day Paul Bunyan.
I’m working. Really I am.
For me this is a multifaceted scouting mission. I’ve been called here under the guise of fun and games, by a fly fishing Sasquatch who is casually working on his Ph.D. dissertation in Zymurgy. The end goal is to take big browns on mice, in the bright moonlight. Meanwhile, I’m also tasked with reporting back statistics on flow, insect life, and strip club locations for another crew I’m being forced to fish with after the Fly Fishing Retailer show, and also trying to figure out whether a Mystic fly rod can toss a Sex Dungeon fifty feet without the aid of solid propellants.
We meet. We greet. I ask myself “will this guy even fit in his monstrosity of a tent?” I tie on a streamer and get a few follows and nips. Burly Man heads back to his mobile supply depot for a sink tip and then does the same. An hour in we’re fishless, but as we continue our march downstream the learned one makes an executive decision and sizes down his flies. Who ever said “those that can’t do teach” needs to have their head examined, as all of a sudden we were into handfuls of 12 to 16 inch rainbows. However happy we became from them, the skies were not producing the same, and facing the prospect of getting struck by lightning we headed back to camp.
The wind is howling, and shelter is taken in a late model all-wheel drive. A hand creeps stealthily into a cooler, and low and behold out pop a couple of icy brown bottles. One is for Matt, a sweaty blonde named Betty. I pay homage to the evening still ahead with Blue Moon’s summer ale. “I’m technically a professor of beer, and I like my Bettys too,” he says. “Some of those Bettys can get a little nuts though.” Our conversation swings ’round and ’round: a recap of Matt’s travels during the last few weeks; our party plan for next week during the show; the value of friendships whether fishing-related or otherwise; how to split atomic particles with a dull hatchet. I tell my cohort I’m working on something semi-top secret, or at least that’s the way I spin it so he’ll think I’m half as complex as he. He tells me he hasn’t taken a shower in a week. I turn the key and crack the window, and we immediately guffaw in synchronicity. A team of Blackhawk helicopters comes whizzing by. We’ve surely been found out, but the skies break and we head back to the river.
Don’t mess with me pal!
This is the point in the story where you’d like to see lots of fish porn. But you ain’t gonna get any since we kind of got our tail ends handed to us for the rest of the adventure. Streamer fishing continued apace, but there were nothing but fish relatively the same size as the bait taking them on. We hit a different section of the river, one that had produced finely for me earlier in the season. It was not happening this turn, and then the story gets ugly.
See, this Matt Dunn character is a fine fisherman. He can pick flies with the best of them, throws double-haul powered silver bullet loops, and can
read water … make high-probability guesses … get lucky as hell at nearly my level of proficiency. He’s got the knowledge base all sewn up, but is less than assertive with the delivery. So when I proclaimed it time to go for broke, throwing on a dozen midges, a pound of lead, and a collegiate size football for an indicator, Doctor Dunn laid into me with a barrage of insults. And I let him have it back, with a Gracie-style left cross to the nose. Now before the week is up Matt is going to deny all this. He’s going to tell you that he isn’t used to the altitude, that the air was too dry, that the pace I cover water with streamers is just too damn much to keep up with. And I’m here to say that’s all bull. The guy called my momma a bamboo rod lover, and I knocked him silly for it. He’s twice my size too, but we are now even better friends as a result.
Morning glory, sans the glory
At 10pm we headed back out to the river once again, this time armed with mice and a moon so bright you could read Tolstoy to it and not fall asleep. Matt hooked up several times, including one occasion where we got the pig within a few feet of us before the hook pulled. I got skunked in the non-literal sense, but I didn’t care. Treading that prairie while turning on the headlamp just twice for rigging was enough for me. Ominous shadows all around, the occasion splash of water whose location we couldn’t quite make out, and otherwise quiet. Staring at the moon and the stars. Once again, it was just about being there.
The full moon greeted us again in the morning. “Good morning, Moon,” I thought to myself. Matt continued buttressing his renaissance man status by whipping up cup after cup of espresso. We returned to the river, and Matt, still whimpering over the beating he’d received the day before, didn’t say a word as I assembled my nymph rig. Pounding our way upstream past several anglers who had queued up at the tight turns in the river, we began banging fish as well. By morning’s end I think we had roughly three dozen between us – the only problem was the average size was only half a dozen inches. You don’t general bump into predators when there are so many small fish around – if the angry brown behemoths were there the little guys wouldn’t be. We call it a day.
Looking at the map, I suggested Mr. I Need A Shower get one, and the best place to do so and get a few more hours in might be the Blue River. Hands firmly clasped, we thanked each other for time well spent. “See ya’ at the show” “Yep, see ya’ at the show.”
MG signing off (to go buy a camping-capable espresso maker)