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Old 01-15-2001, 07:25 PM
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Hawkeye Hawkeye is offline
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Our scariest moments while flyfishing

Well we got some good stories of the weird and wacky and I thought we might take a 180 degree turn and share some of our scariest moments. I suspect that this will involve sharing some of our more stupid moments as well but I want to encourage you to share all the same. We have all done silly or stupid things (I have an uncanny knack for this.) so you wont be alone and perhaps we can learn a lesson from you. Heck, I doubt any of you could beat the stupidity I exhibit in my tale.

Hereís my tale of fear and woe:

It was the last week of June when I met with my dad and brother for our annual fly fishing trip on Rock Creek outside Missoula, Montana. Spring was having a little difficulty giving way to Summer but we were not about to let a little wet weather and a swollen creek dampen our enthusiasm. This year was going to be a little special as we had rented a raft to float the creek and reach those difficult places that had tempted us in years past.

After our first damp night we woke to fairly clear skies and the promise of a great day on the water. As we ate a hearty breakfast we chatted about our strategies for the day and gazed wonderingly at salmon flies the size of humming birds flitting through the pines. With breakfast finished we were quick about packing and loading gear and soon we were on the small dirt road heading upstream.

No more than 10 miles later we reversed the packing procedure and were soon drifting down the creek and wetting our lines while savoring the hope common to those first few casts. My dad was in the front, my brother at the rear, I had the oars and perhaps this is a good time to mention that none of us had ever navigated a river in a raft before.

Our plan was to fish while floating but to also make frequent stops to wade promising stretches and after the first stop I switched places with my brother and took the back of the raft. For those of you unfamiliar with rafts, sitting in the back of the raft really means sitting ďonĒ the back of the raft. So, thus seated, we continued our drift, fishing and generally enjoying the company and the day. I decided I would change my fly to a size 8 or so golden stonefly. I had the fly out of the box and was about to tie it on when I decided my tippet was a bit short. The fly went between my lips for safe keeping while I lengthened my tippet and somewhere in this process is when things started to go wrong. Really wrong. I mean ďOh my god Iím gonna dieĒ kind of wrong.

The creek took a sharp left hand turn and picked up a good amount of speed and, as is common in such places, there was a very large pile of trees, stumps and various other types of creek flow debris packed against the shore. My brother did not handle the turn so well, in fact it would be a lot more accurate to say that the turn handled him. We hit the debris pile broadside (I think I mentioned I was changing my tippet so I was not really aware of our navigational difficulties.) and I quite gracelessly backrolled like a scuba diver into the icy waters. I am usually not content to do things like this simply and this was no exception to the rule. Not only did I leave the raft but I also took my brand new and expensive 4 weight with me and with the knowledge of my soon to be submersed state I took a deep breath forgetting about the #8 stonefly safely resting between my lips.

During those first couple of seconds about a million things went through my mind. The short list goes something like this:

Not my new flyrod!
I just inhaled a fly!
I just bought that rod!
God that waterís cold!
Iíve never even caught a fish on it yet!
Donít get stuck in the stumps!
I donít think the warranty will cover this!
Iím not wearing a life vest!
I think I just felt my fly rod!
Donít breath too deep!
I just saw my fly rod!
Whoís that yelling at me to forget the f#*%ing fly rod?!

I bobbed down the set of rapids alternately swimming for and grabbing at my flyrod while ignoring my brother and father who were attempting to rescue me by hitting me over the head with the oars. I finally retrieved my flyrod and handed it aboard just about the time a tree branch snagged my dadís rod and removed it from the raft. I think at this point I also managed to retrieve my $1.99 landing net before I was whipped away from the raft and into a second and larger set of rapids. As I was alternately buoyed up and sucked down I seem to recall thinking that perhaps saving my flyrod hadnít been the wisest course of action.

As the rapids tailed out I was able to grab an oar and was dragged dripping, cold, and exhausted into the raft. My brother pulled us up to the steep bank and I remembered the fly in my throat. Thinking I would need a hospital I pointed at the far bank and the road as I started to gag as gently as I could. After a few seconds and a couple well timed coughs the fly came up and out into my hand.

The crisis over I stumbled up the bank to lose a few pounds of water and take a good long rest as my brother hiked back up stream to retrieve my dadís flyrod. There is nothing more likely to give you an appreciation for lying in the sun, on the banks of a stream than what I had just experienced.

By the end of the trip we had become quite proficient in raft handling, we always wore our life vests, and the guy in the back always kept his feet firmly locked under the seat in front of him.

Note: They really didnít hit me over the head with the oars but the rest is as it was.

Well thatís my tale of fear letís hear yours.
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Tight Lines,

Gregg
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  #2  
Old 01-15-2001, 11:32 PM
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juro juro is offline
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RE:Our scariest moments while flyfishing

It was the year my mother comandeered my pilgrimage to the northwest to greaseline for summer steelhead. She was visiting and caught wind that I was staying over my brother's in Portland OR part of my stay, and basically pulled rank. We had a ball running around the country side - Victoria, Vancouver, Downtown Seattle, all over! After a few days I was jonesin' BAD to fish. I got my wish and on the way south to Portland my mom and I stopped at a favorite pool of mine and I rose a huge summer run out of 6 feet of water to the fly right smack in front of her. I lost the fish but we still talk about that day (a story I'll tell later in detail).

So anyway, we're in Portland and after a social dinner with my bro and his bride I am catching early Z's for the ride to the upper Kalama in the morning. I arrive and the recent high water had collapsed the bank in some spots. Although the water was running summer clear, the signs of devastation from the flood stage flows were evident along the shore.

After fishing a particularly pleasing piece of water I crossed over to the far bank. It was a steep rocky grade made up of fresh landslide, complete with the old power lines intertwined into the rocks from the slide. New temporary lines were strung to keep the folks in the Kalama River valley watching the Mariners.

As I completed the last tenous step in the hard deep current, I reached for something to pull up on the rocky bank - it was a powerline. For a split second I thought "what if it's live - this would be my last living act" as the pressure of the current now boiling up against my lower torso urged me to do something. I grabbed the cable and of course it was harmless, in fact it made a perfect handle. I thought of how there would be worse ways to go than being in the Kalama canyon as I used the other exposed cables to scale the steep grade holding my 13' 6" Spey rod in one hand until I approached the top. I looked down into the beautiful water from my vantage point, the morning sun illuminating the canyon. Then I stepped over the guardrail that marks the top of the ridge.

Suddenly, the world contorted into a twisting mass of loud yelling convulsive confusion as if I had been rapidly turned inside out and back again. It was like the vet talking about hearing a wailing sound in the jungle and when it stopped he realized it was him who was wailing after being hit. When it stopped, my hand was burned and the skin was smoking with the stink of burned hair. I could feel the carbide studs in my boots right through the soles as if they were live roller bearings. The rod was thrown across the road into the brush, and I rushed to it. When I got there, I reached out my hand but my half-conscious brain said "don't touch that!" while my protective side said "make sure it's OK!". I pulled my hand back as if it were poison and fell to my knees to collect my thoughts. After a long confused time recovering from the sensation that my spine had been yanked from my body, I picked up the rod and looked up.

The temporary power lines (that replaced the downed lines in the rubble) were so close to the ground that I could have almost touched them with my arms raised high from the guard rail. I had touched them with the graphite of the flyrod and experienced a serious electrical shock.

Perhaps 20 minutes later, my heart felt like it was calm again, my thoughts were clear, and I started to think about how lucky I was. I was wearing OS Systems waders, which have a seamless molded heavy rubber foot, which may have saved my life. My hand, as I recalled, was reaching to the wooden post holding the guardrail and all I could see there were spikes of metal. Had I touched the guardrail itself, I would not be writing this now.

I collected myself and got back to the rental car and although I had only fished that short while drove back to Portland. When I walked in, everyone immediately sensed something was wrong and I told my tale. I thought my mom was going to burst out in tears. My brother and his wife looked like they had seen a ghost.

Maybe they did!

Moral - rumors of conductivity of graphite are *very* real.

I don't know if anyone noticed but I always walk with the tip of the rod to the rear and low. I would point out that there are many places with low power lines in our area - for instance dockhouses and wharfs on the cape. Next time you stop by the "secret spot" I showed folks on the Herring River, look at how low the live power feeds are to the dock. Anyone sneaking on John's docks with a fishing rod at high tide faces severe risk and chances are they would not be so lucky. I urge all to "watch their tips" out there.
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Old 01-16-2001, 05:22 PM
FishHawk FishHawk is offline
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RE:Our scariest moments while flyfishing

Two stories one for salt and one for fresh. I had never fished Bournes Pond and decided the the best time was to go in the early a.m. I arrived at the Pond near the jetties in the pitch black of the night. Looking at the outflow it looked very shallow and I decided that I could get right in and wade . Something told me not to. I would not be here if I had decided to wade in an unknown piece of water in the dead of the night.
Fresh water. I will keep it short. I was floating*the Mighty Mo in Montana when I lost a fin while belley boating. There I was in this large Western river with a PFD on an*one fin. Luckly I made it to shore and a friend who had a raft gave me a lift to the put-in.
FishHawk
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Old 01-16-2001, 07:33 PM
Bob Pink Bob Pink is offline
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RE:Our scariest moments while flyfishing

About 1:30am I'm off Fourth Cliff in Scituate with my brother, mid-July night hot and sultry. We'd been anchored off the boulder field, maybe I should say IN the boulder field. He's tossing a needlefish plug and I'm casting off the foredeck of my Dad's 18'whaler. I hear some rumbling off in the distance but nothing too distinct. About 5 minutes go by and the rumbles increase in frequency and I decide it's time to 'pull the hook'. By the time I get the boat out of the boulder field we are engulfed in a thunderstorm/squall of Mellvillian proportions. I'm trying to navigate back into the North River as we are getting pounded by gusts of wind, lightning crashes and buckets of rain. The glasses make vision impossible so I give the spotlight to my brother and ask him to try to find the channel markers as I dead reckon our way in. In the 10 minutes it takes for this to pass we are lucky, we don't run aground or get swamped by the waves which rose up from nowhere, the lightning hits everthing in sight except us and we duck into the lee of a small hummock that sits at the confluence of the North & South Rivers.

Same spot, a cool September night. Tossing eels into those rocks from the foredeck of a 20' Bertram with a cuddy cabin. About 1:00am and I'm alone, it's been a slow tide so I decide to call it quits. Those older Bertrams were before the 'walk-around' concept of boats so I'm up on the edge walking back to the cockpit and I go right overboard. Fortunatly, I don't cold-cock myself on the rail of the boat or anything underwater but I've never tried boarding this boat in water of swimming depth! Luckily I'm able to get a foot on the outdrive and an arm over the transom and hoist myself back aboard.
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