8.11.2006

Go Fish!

Fishing...is something I have not done in a long time... When I was a kid, my dad and I used to go all the time and sit next to the Feather, put a hook up some poor worm's little butt and cast off. I remember (from pictures mostly) catching lots of shiny, happy, rainbow trout, gutting them, frying them up, eating them...Mmmmm. Good times! And fishing is so relaxing; you get to sit by a moving body of water, in the shade, daydreaming and enjoying being "one with nature". At least that is what I thought until two days ago, when I once again went fishing with my dad.

First there was a 3 mile gruelling uphill-both-ways hike to the summit of the mountain. Then the trail dips down and starts heading downhill and you think "joy, a reprieve!" But it is not meant to be. The trail that we were hiking on has not been maintained in probably 20 years or so and about 6 years ago there was a huge fire, which wiped out the brush...but, the brush grew back 10 times worse the next year. So our whole downhill "easy part of the" hike was spent bushwhacking through scrub brushes, branches and woe-of-all-woes POISON OAK. Yes, poison oak. And you go to avoid one clump of it just to fall off the side of the trail, then when you try to clamber back up onto the trail, you have to grab ahold of something and what is near you? Poison Oak.

So we finally battle the horrid poison oak, branches and scrub brush (and lose horribly - I am wounded, scratched and bleeding) and get to the creek, which is nice and shaded and cold as ice. Now, things have changed a bit since I was a kid. Where we used to stick the hook in a nice fat worm and let it lazily drift around in the water, now we actually have to have a bit of finesse! Today, we fly fish.

Now, fly fishing is not a lazy, relaxing sport. You have to sneak up on the fish and whip your pole about and then just at the right moment, set the fly right on the water so the fish thinks it is a bug and then.....when the fish takes a taste, you snap the pole backwards, hook him and haul him in. This is easier said than done. First, sneaking up on a fish when the sun is almost above your head is not an easy task. We also took the dog with us and she wants to be right smack dab in the middle of the action, so she spooks the fish away as well.

next, when it comes to whipping your pole about, I though if you just snap it back and forth, you were doing things right. Apparently there is a method to it. The only thing I am good at when it comes to that is getting the hook stuck in _____ (insert area here - trees, rocks, bushes) or getting the line tangled up on itself. In fact, if there was one thing I could wish for when I was fly fishing, it would be a little "cabana boy" who untangled/unhooked my line for me while I relaxed with a cold beer. This would save me a lot of time, and also this could be a way to put the relax back in fly fishing.

Lastly, the hook and haul in. I hooked a bunch of fish but many of them decided to let go at the last moment. Even when sometimes I hooked and began to haul them in, they decided to let go. So the ratio of fish hooked to fish hooked, hauled in and not wiggled away at the last minute is like 10 to 2.

I ended up catching 3 fish so all in all it was a good time. Until the walk back. We had to bushwhack back UPhill to get to the top of the mountain. We were tired and so kept misstepping and falling off the edge and so having to grab onto even more poison oak than before. By the time we reached the top, I was feeling more like rolling downhill than walking. Then I looked at the dog. She is about 10 years old now; the last time we took this hike, she laid down in the middle of the path and refused to get up. This time, although she is in better shape, you could still tell that she was not a happy camper.

Finally, we all made it to the bottom of the hill and I finally got to have that cold beer, although my cabana boy was still nowhere to be found.

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