First posted on 10-29-2010
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I arrived at the landing on a Friday afternoon, expecting to see some early weekend campers getting set up. But the place was empty. No camps, no boat trailers, no trucks, no one else but me. A quick check of the river showed ideal conditions - low and crystal clear - high enough to launch a boat, but low enough to wade. I wasn’t about to waste a day like this one by driving back to hitch up the boat, so I donned my boots and headed out to a favorite hole.
My first cast found a hungry rainbow trout that hit aggressively and fought hard. So did the next four fish. Evidently, without a flotilla of boats and anglers, these trout had become starved for action. I was able to limit in an hour and spent another 30 minutes or so catching and releasing fish.
As I was enjoying my peaceful day, I saw a jon boat slowing drifting downstream. When it came closer, I noticed that the pilot was using a trolling motor to navigate the river, probably not a terrible idea given that the water was not very swift. As he approached, I invited him to swing by in front of me to fish. He smiled, thanked me, but said he had lost his motor in a pile of rock upstream. “It just twisted right off,” he said. I know the spot, and those rocks are well concealed even at this river depth. You have to know where they are to avoid them. The man said he was headed to Jack’s, a local fishing resort, to get another boat and go after his motor. I wished him well as he sailed off, another seven miles to cover before he reached his destination. He flashed a thumbs-up sign and smiled.
Ideal fall weather, trees just starting to burst with color and perfect river conditions made it tough to leave. I decided to grab my camera and capture the experience. A wren who had been chattering as she worked a drift in search of food, spied me coming ashore and began to scold me for interrupting. I set my fishing gear on the bank and fired up my camera.
The river had been rising gently, which may have been what excited the fish earlier. It was still coming up slowly, and leaves and sticks were starting to float by. I took some shots of leaves as they drifted on the surface with the river bottom easily visible.
One large leaf got by me and I raced after it, leaping through waste-high water to retrieve it and cast it back upstream so I could try a shot. As I turned to walk back upriver, I saw a couple on the far bank watching me. Visualizing in my mind what they must have seen, I suppose they had no idea what fool thing I was up to. I gave a sheepish wave and got two more just like it in return.
Still, I lingered, unwilling to leave despite the hole I discovered in my waders that was allowing enough cold water to seep in and truly make me one with the river. I took a few more shots of the developing autumn foliage, went back after my fishing gear and tried a few more casts. The fish had quit biting, so I stood there in water nearly to my chest and just tried to appreciate the afternoon as much as I could.
My silent reflection was broken when I heard a boat racing upstream from well below the shoal. When they finally arrived, the bow was occupied by a young lady, the motor manned by her husband and, sitting there in the middle, the motorless man who I had seen earlier. As they passed, he smiled and gave another thumbs-up sign. I think, this time, it was a little more enthusiastic.
I finally decided it was time to pack it in for the day. The afternoon was about over and light would be scarce as the sun sank further behind those hills. But I was already making plans to return the next morning.
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