Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Me and Mick

The flakes are spaced just sparsely enough so as not to obstruct my view. A cloak of white adorns the hemlocks that overhang the far bank, drawing itself tighter by the moment. Dusk looms heavy. A calmness overcomes me, the likes of which could only be described in retrospect and even then perhaps insufficiently. Alone but not lonely, indifferent toward past or future, awareness reduced to sensory perception; I am, as much as I have ever been, in my element. If it weren't for the two guys swinging the run below me, this would be the solitary steelheader’s quintessential moment.

Anchor placed, the rod tip embarks on its spiraling path, hoarding potential energy as it goes. At the top of the ride there is a pause before the moment of truth. Pull bests push, generating a jolt that ascends some 12 1/2 feet of cork and carbon fiber before exiting in the form of a bullet-shaped loop. 70 feet later I watch as my flash and feather unfurl upon a submerged rock ledge on the far bank. A downstream mend pulls the fly into the milky green depths where dreams become reality. 

The take is slow and heavy, a purposeful grab. This is not the tap-tap-tease-me-baby bullshit you'd get from a smaller fish. This is a predatory strike from an experienced killer. The rod is instantly corked.

This is it. This is my perfect fish. My perfect moment. My cover shot. My "SOTM" entry.

The fight is fitting; a test of wills in which the fish is grossly over-matched by modern technology, yet still manages to maintain the upper hand for most of the battle. In time I find myself kneeling over the most humbling specimen I have ever beheld. 

Tail scars betray the fruitless fornication of fall runs gone by. This is the Mick Jagger of steelhead, clearly on the back side of a career in proliferation but still owning the stage and oozing with 'fuck-you' attitude. Even as gravity's pull is mitigated by the water enveloping it, I can feel the mass of this fish as its tail dances against my hand. This is not Lani Waller's 20-pound double-banded Skeena buck. This is not Dec's uber-siver Skagit slab. But it's as close as I may ever get, and a quick Photoshop shower and Instagram bath should clean it up enough to achieve the desired effect.

There will be no glory shot though. My buddies are a half a mile downstream, and I’m pretty sure I can make out two big middle fingers in the run below. It's just me and Mick, exchanging glances, questioning each other, questioning ourselves.

"What’s with the poop face, bro? Is this not what you came for? Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Listen, why don’t you just wack me and string me up. No? You sure? ‘Cause I’ve got a date with a few central basin hussies in the Irishman Hole, and this whole ‘Sad Sam’ routine is really killin’ my mojo.”

“I’m sorry man. I don’t know when I started fishing for a picture. Once upon a time, I fished for a fish. I fished for a story. I just… fished. Could it be that the grip-n-grin is eroding the soul of the sport? Do the countless photos plastered across the walls of my basement represent a lifetime’s worth of accumulated karmic debt? It would certainly explain the shitty fishing I’ve had of late...”

“ Ahem… Not getting’any younger here, dude.”

I loosen my grip and with an exclamatory splash, Mick morphs into a memory. I stand and gather my running line, preparing myself for the questions the next pellet-head might pose.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

[Blown Out] Stream of Consciousness

I reach for another smokie and come up empty handed. Have I really knocked down an entire package of spicy encased mystery meats in one sitting? Damn... A year removed from my failed experiment with P-90X and perhaps I've finally bottomed out. Maybe I should enlist for one of those fat camp shows like "Biggest Loser." Or better yet, I could enroll in Camp Hope from "Heavy Weights," one of my all-time favorite childhood movies. You know, the one where all the fat kids from "Mighty Ducks" go to some Shangri-La in the woods and jump on a giant water balloon to get skinny back before childhood obesity had been identified as an epidemic and was merely comedic fodder for Hollywood screen writers? 

Remember when you first saw the previews for that movie and made it your earthly life's mission to jump on "The Blob" at least once before you died? And remember how you marveled at the ingenuity of those pudgy bastards when they pulled the licorice rope out of the hole in the bed post and the treasure chest full of confectionery treats out of the secret compartment in the cabin floor? And in the end, evil fitness-freak Ben Stiller AKA Tony Perkis and his yes-man Lars put them through the grinder before the chub-squad rebelled, prevailing healthier and happier in the end?

Except, that's not how the story goes. Sure, everybody walks out smiling, but the fat kids are still fat at the end. Looking back, wasn't the whole premise of the movie to make them un-fat? How did I miss that? It sure seemed like a victory back then when Gerry Garner (AKA Carp from Mighty Ducks) drove the winning rally car across the finish line to defeat Camp MVP for the first time in history as the 90's dramatic end music roared in the background. Perhaps this was the beginning of the end for a generation of gluttons like me who learned quickly that it doesn't matter what your BMI is, as long as long as your life is set to the right soundtrack.

What does this have to do with fly fishing, you ask? Cool it, Chester. This is my blog, and I'll write about whatever I damn well please. 


Truth is, the back channels of my brain only move in one direction.  When not consumed with calculating the proper refund  (less the coupon discount, plus the tax of course) for Mrs. Smith's Kitty-Cat Dish Towels,  they are incessantly at work trying to solve the complex algorithm devoted to determining my next fishing day and location. Inputs to said algorithm include work schedule, no less than 3 weather forecasts, USGS flow charts, multiple fishing reports, lunar tables, hatch charts, roughly 273 FISH HEAD updates per day, and not least of all, the "honey-do list." Yes, it's true, you have to be a fucking Rain Man just to go fishing these days. Sometimes the levee protecting these back channels breaks. And when it does, I find myself pounding Slim Jims and lamenting the ethical shortcomings of Aaron Schwartz. Who, to his credit, is apparently skinny now. 

I did manage to host a little "Camp Hope" of my own the other day. Cue 90's victory music (not to be confused with 80's montage music)...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December is for Ducks and Doodaddies

The stars seem to have aligned. There are more silver fish in the rivers now than we've seen all year, and the hunt for doodaddies is on from Sandusky to Buffalo and beyond. Old man winter has fired his warning shot - a few fleeting flakes, with promises that soon they'll be bigger, stickier, and more abundant.

This week has already produced some of the hottest fish I've tangoed with all season. Powerful runs, headshakes and acrobatics - Not what you'd expect from fish holding in 35 degree water.

The $5 gas station clown hat I picked up a couple weeks ago seems to be accruing some substantial mojo...

There's a story behind the fish below, but we'll save that for another time.

Most of all I just wanted to touch base and let y'all now that in between fluffing sweaters and slingin' dog beds, I'm still getting after it and doing my damndest to reap all that the 12th month has to offer. December in Dudewater country also means time for year end reviews. Brett's already working on his, but I suspect I'm at least a couple six packs and a dozen or so steelhead away from putting pen to paper  on mine, as 2012 was quite a year in the Fast Jimmy cosmos and may require some additional "reflection." In the mean time, we'll try to keep you interested.

P.S. Thanks to those who shared their support or ideas for the DW fundraiser! Some killer ideas and part of our goal for 2013 will be to put at least a couple of them into play...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cost of Bloggin's High...

Well folks, as much as it may seem like we underdeliver on frequency of blog posts, Google has just informed me that I've exceeded my free storage capacity. What does that mean? It means if you want to keep seeing fish porn on Dudewater, Fast Jimmy's going to have to cough up some extra dough. I smell a fundraiser brewing...

Dudewater hats, anybody??

Meantime, here's what we've been up to lately.