Thread: Fork Fest 13
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Old 04-20-2013, 02:14 AM
rbaileydav rbaileydav is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Marietta GA
Posts: 130

Before long we had camp set up and ship shape, even my friend Jermz’s MacGyver home built hammock set up was in place and picture perfect.

I had chugged enough fresh squeezed water down that my limbs were starting to come back to life, which meant my mind turned from survival to its next level of the “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” … … fishing. It was obvious from the valley floor that we were at least two weeks and maybe even three weeks from true spring for this high in the back country, oh well guess we all screw up sometime. The stream was a bruising and brawling specimen of a wide shouldered bar bully size, pushing everything out of its path as it bulldogged its way down the mountain.

It was clear and icy cold which meant not only was holding water hard to find, but the fish would be sedentary and spooky … … a great combination for PETA representatives everywhere, if there ever was one. But this place was way, way, way too beautiful to do more than just acknowledge those thoughts and still smile to yourself at the beauty and feel of your heart beat in a staccato in time to the river at your feet. Rods were strung and bravado filled boasts of fish dinners to come were launched as we sent one brave group up the feeder creek to the falls and on even braver group downstream to battle house sized boulder filled rapids of a river bed as of yet unmarked by even the faintest fisherman’s trail, and finally the third intrepid group … … the ones who had had paid the high end debt for a half century of living … … the easiest upstream section, which even though it was easier, it is still as of yet still untainted by a fisherman’s bankside trail. But even us old farts found the water and made our first casts into what many would call perfection.

Well with water like that you can imagine where my thoughts were, and they certainly weren’t with the fishing, which I would love to tell you meant I missed a slashing strike of a 12 inch native brookie on the first cast but the truth is never so poetic. Instead when reaching for the line I fumbled my clumsy mitts into the custom “Lacey made Adams Reel” that graced my “RND” bamboo rod (so named for my late father’s initials inscribed in silver into the burled reel seat) which knocked it out of the slide ring reel seat and sent it crashing into the foaming white water at my feet. Well as any of you who read any of my more recent long winded narratives may know, in September I lost a very nice Hardy Sunbeam in exactly the same manner, so I naturally almost dived in to try and save that reel. But the bite of the 40 degree water caused me to pull back in thermal shock and the reel spun out of sight, lost in a wave of white water.

The words that spilled out of my mouth were not in keeping with this heavenly and divine inspired setting but they spilled forth none the less. I began to strip line in frantically piling it on top of a rock at my feet thinking I was making progress in pulling my reel back to me. But the line on the rock eventually washed into the current below, piling wave upon wave into a seething mass of white water and finally onto the rocks at the base of circle eddy below. Somehow I resisted the temptation to fling myself into that crush of water to try and find my reel but remained patient and once again started to strip in line, foot after foot. Thoughts of the primary rod and the backup rod that I had dragged up the mountain flashed through my mind along with thoughts of what the heck good are they going to be if I lose the ONLY reel I brought on the first cast of the first day. Suddenly my heart lurched to a stop as my retrieve was halted in a grinding crush of rock like weight. The line and potentially the reel were stuck. Monte thinking quickly scrambled to a rock ledge just below the white water and took the line that had pooled in the backwater down by him and began stripping in the opposite direction. But eventually he too hit a snag showing us exactly where the line and potentially the reel was hung on a LOG under four to five feet of seething, foaming, white water. I almost panicked but eventually stopped enough to think through the problem and realized that I actually had the reel somewhat captured with both the upstream line and the downstream backing still in my hand in one form or another. We pulled hard enough to know that it was a stalemate neither of us was going to win in either direction, least of all find the reel. So I took a major gamble sawed my teeth through the backing and with a faltering glimpse of confidence let it fall free into the swirling white water while gripping the line tightly in my hand hoping and praying I didn’t screw up and let the wrong end drop into the water. Monte stripped the line rushing forward to him with all of his might, but came up fast to a log in the current, which was so strong there was absolutely no way of reaching it. I thought for one more second and told him to cut it at his end and prayed for a positive result … … and then I began to strip the upstream line backwards through the stripping guide, I felt my heart jump with joy as the line and the reel moved past the rocks with a scrape that my fingers felt all the way through my soul. And hundreds of tugs later my reel came into view. And this time I did practically dive on the floating shinning scraps of metal. I pulled my reel safe and undamaged from the water feeling relief flood through me along with a chant of “not this time” river gods … … which I am sure will cause me a karma induced trauma later on… … but for now the reel was safe and sound on my reel seat as I spliced the cut and lost section of backing out so the line would re-attach to the reel and Monte brought me the final birds nest of lost backing that he had managed to recover from the white water, so I could shove it into one of my pockets to be later sacrificed to the camp “fire gods” in hopes of changing my fate with the “river gods”… … But never the less I was back in the fishing game. I motioned for Monte to jump ahead of me and fish the next water while I tried to calm my nerves which were rushing as fast as the spring rains fed river I was standing in, trying to tell myself “act cool dude” like nothing just happened……. Yeah right.

Monte fished up the hole and out of sight before my breathing reached anything even close to normal as I thought about being stuck reel less in this fishing heaven… … thankfully NOT. So shakily I began a few tentative casts with my big dry and long small dropper combo. I wasn’t really expecting much and simply trying to get back into a calm even keel fishing rhythm when subconsciously I saw a dimple on the surface and reacted in an over amped surge of left over adrenaline, from the reel chase and the long hike, and hauled back on my three weight like Bill Dance in a full on ESPN Saturday morning bass strike, launching a very surprised brook trout in an orbit Neil Armstrong would have been proud of. By the time I finally got this poor fellow out of the trees I think he had more frequent flyer miles than even my Delta Diamond tags can account for … … but somehow he still managed to look beautiful … … , small but beautiful.

From there my day was made, I had survived the hike, the scenery was beyond description and my hands now had that cold clean sweet smell of life … … I mean trout. Life is good and I good doesn’t begin to give enough depth to how I felt.

We climbed/fished upstream, and I do mean climbed, this stream was less “boulder hopping” than rope and hook belaying using a 2x tippet and a size 6 wooly bugger over house sized boulders while praying you didn’t slip and land in the seething foaming frothing white water at your feet. Eventually realizing that we were worn out beyond belief, and causing us to turn back and head downstream toward that delicious smell of wood smoke that was now hanging on the ridgeline like natures first billboard for food drawing us downstream back to the campfire and dinner.

Last edited by rbaileydav; 04-20-2013 at 09:04 AM..
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