Good thing we don’t just go fishing to catch fish, because there wasn’t a whole lot of that going on yesterday.
Burke and I teamed up for a Sunday float, and we tried to make the Steelers’ playoff loss quickly drift away into a fading memory by rowing through some cold water and quiet forest.
Rule number one for a good float — Get an early start. Done. But it was about an hour later than planned because I had to turn around and go back for the grill I’d forgotten. That’s part of the next rule …
Rule number two — bring a grill. This proved to be the most important element of the day, as lunch gave us a look-forward-to throughout the slow morning of fishing, and it changed our spirits for the afternoon.
Here is an important secondary rule concerning stream-side grilling: NO frills. This isn’t mom’s kitchen table; it’s a river. “Do you have any plates?” No, use your hands. “Excuse, me. Do you have a fork?” No, use your hands. “Hey, do you have grill tongs for…” No, use your hands! Better yet, use your fishing forceps; just rinse ’em in the creek afterward. “And, did you bring mustard?” Hell NO, we didn’t bring the mustard. Meat and bread. That’s Troutbitten. With that said, there’s no reason why you can’t get fancy with the meat. Pat brought brats and ribs again. Damn good lunch.
So, the food (and legal adult beverages) picked us up a bit; and as it started to rain, we got back in the boat with renewed vigor and optimism. Burke even found himself a fish and finally removed his skunk.
Pat Burke — it just took you half a day to finally hook up, but hey — good fish, buddy. Truth is, I’d already piled up my huge fish count to 3 or 4, and I was feeling a little sorry for Pat; so I rowed him into a spot that even he couldn’t screw up. Blind squirrels, nuts and all that.
There really is nothing finer than floating a river with a friend. We only stopped once to get out and wade fish an island because sunlight is scarce these days, and we prefer to be at the take-out before dark.
One final rule for a good float — leave with a lasting memory. We fish a lot, and the single events of anything that you do repeatedly can smear together into a blurry collage if you don’t find at least one good moment and make it stick. Here’s the image of the day …
I hooked a tree limb on an otherwise perfect casting day (-right-). And like any skilled oarsman, Burke rowed me into position to retrieve my fly from the branches. I got my fly back, but as we drifted away, I felt something lift the hat from my head. What the . . . ? Look closely, and you’ll see that some other bastard wasn’t lucky enough to retrieve his streamer. Hmmph, and I thought we were the only ones who ever fished this river . . .