Thursday, July 19, 2012

Because Ann Asked

I briefly referenced this over on my Facebook page, and my friend Ann asked me to elaborate. So I apologize for another fishing story. . .but she did ask, after all.

The day started ominously. Two signs portended disaster even before we were out the door. First, the wife turned to me and said "Now don't drown on me." (that's called a foreshadow). Second, we were out of whole bean coffee, and I had to use instant (the horror!). It was a fine espresso roast, so at least I wasn't stuck with cheap instant. But still. . .the day was off to a bad start.

In spite of the warnings, we headed off for a day of fishing on the Nisqually - Bob, Wes, and I. Early reports weren't favorable; the salmon weren't quite running yet. But it was a day of fishing, after all, and maybe we'd get lucky. Or so we thought.

Arriving at the parking area below the Union Pacific Nisqually River trestle, we found another fisherman who had the same story - the salmon weren't running yet. One or two had been seen heading up, but nothing more. Ah, well. Nothing to do but get our lines in the water and see if we can be the lucky ones. And I should mention that, this being our first trip to the Nisqually, this was as much an exploratory trip scouting the area out for the future, as much as it was an attempt to pull anything in.

So Bob and Wes pulled out their salmon rods and went to work. I decided to pull out my fly rod and go after some of the trout that most definitely were in there. We all fished off the parking area, but it was a little crowded with the three of us and one other guy parked right beneath the bridge. I headed downriver a bit, below the flood-control bulkhead, to try a promising spot.

Got out in the water - did I mention it was kind of high and fast? About waist-deep, dropped a fly in, and worked the river for 10 minutes. No luck. But I turned around and noticed a nice line along the bank behind me, that worked out into the main channel around a large snag. It looked right. So I threw the fly into that line, it floated down the bank, ran around the snag, and zing! Fish on. Between the fish and the current, it was a bit of a fight. So I began to reel in line while maintaining tension, trying to keep that fish on the hook.

Only, I took one stop downriver too many. The bottom dropped away and I found myself in up to my chest. And the current was pushing hard. So now I had a problem. The current was too strong for me to back up. To the right, the river only got deeper. To the left, it was flowing too fast. And ahead was the snag in the middle of the river. All that, and I had a fish on.

There was nothing to do but leap forward and make an attempt at a hefty branch hanging off the snag. Which is what I did; I was able to get me feet down, taking a firm grip on that branch, all while playing that fish. By this time my waders were filling with water, too. Not a good situation. And, of course, in my memory I kept hearing Karina's admonition to not drown. Everything was stacking up against me.

It took a lot of effort, but I was able to pull myself up onto that snag, and then work across a pile of logs in the rapids to the shore. At some point I realized this wasn't really an amusing situation - that fishermen drown every year, doing just this sort of thing. I was fortunate to get up on that log and extricate myself.

And all with only one hand, since the other was still playing that trout. Which I pulled in once I was safely on shore.

So I was cold and wet and tired and drained. But I knew there were fish in the river, so what to do but get back at it?  Only, this time I stayed firmly in the center of the gravel bar, and didn't get so close to the edge.

And sure enough, 15 minutes later I thought to myself, "If I was a fish I'd be sitting right past that concrete block in the middle of the river." Threw the line in, floated the fly down a ripple around said concrete block and bam! fish on.

All in all, it was a good day fishing. Caught a couple trout, didn't drown. Got to know the area better, so we'll be ready when the salmon come in. Got out of the office and hung out with good friends.

Oh, and Cabela's for lunch on the way home.


Lori said...

I'll bet this story would make some sort of good sermon analogy. Not sure what it would be, but fishing stories always go well in sermons. Seriously, the Lord was with you and we are glad your safe.

Ann said...

Karina, my question is, had Dan told you the whole story before I asked? (facepalm) Golly, Dan, as soon as you stepped off that ledge, I thought to myself, "what about the waders??? They hold water as well as they keep it out!"

Dan, as a good sister in Christ, I'll whack you on the shoulder the next time I see you, in sisterly Christ-like love, of course! Disconnect fish, connect brain, please, for Karina, Olivia & Clara! ;-)

I'm returning to (facepalm), now.

Beth Bilysnkyj said...

Ann, when these guys get out on water with a rod in hand they lose all reason! Thank God you're safe, Dan!

Ann said...

Beth, I know, I know. ;) Massimo has his stories of fishing in Africa amongst the hippos, crocodiles and mamba snakes. eek!! (That wouldn't stop me from smacking his shoulder, though. :D ) The plumbers we have had here the last 3 days were all laughing and swapping similar stories w/ Massimo, this morning, after I read them Dan's saga.

Susan Gillespie said...

I'm smacking the other shoulder. That's frightening. So glad you survived - AND kept the fish on.

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