It was midweek when the call came in. Grizz was on the South Fork of the Snake camping and floating in the "canyon". Fishing was heating up, Golden Stones, PMD's and Little Yellow Sallies were abundant. He mentioned that he was going for another three-day float, coming home then heading back up. "You want in?" he asked, I didn't hesitate to say hell yes. My Trout fishing is mostly done hiking in the backcountry, floating in a drift boat is new to me. This was a great opportunity to go somewhere new and take some notes from a good fisherman/oarsman.
I immediately went to see Ralphy at Fish Tech to see what I needed. Pink PMD's? You sure? Huh, interesting. I spent the next few days search for any information on this place. I became increasingly eager, almost impatient, for this trip, spirits were high. The jaunt to the water was filled with fishing tales and river history. I learned more in the four-hour drive than I did the past two weeks searching the internet. Fishing lodge information is bias in my opinion. It's to lure the rich-fisherman for the all-inclusive dream trip. Not about the history, lore and adventures.
Arriving at the river we packed the boat and slid her in. Grizz recognized a longtime friend and mentor. I have heard the tales about this fisherman and was excited to observe his fishing ways. We agreed to rendezvous down the river on the island. We shoved off and in no time I witnessed the power of this river. Water hydraulics sucking down water like black holes is not to be taken lightly as Mother Nature is truly powerful. Although the river looks like its flowing slow there is much more power once you on it. It was real and I was aware of the detrimental effects one bad move could have. Out here mistakes have severe consequences. I was a bit nervous as drift boats are new to me but I knew that Grizz was a Jedi hand I'd have the best coaching that anyone could ask for.
At the island I witnessed some great fishing and some beautiful fish. I learned a few new things and was handed a fly by a master. Hanging out at the boats and talking story I decided to rig a rod. That's when the discussion took a different direction…it went from, uh, a general something to what fly I was going to use. The fly in particular was the "grumpy frumpy". It created some unique conversation and interesting theories…then I was put on the spot. The grand master wanted to see the fly in action. "go over there and fish it" he said. At that moment I was shocked. I said something like " oh were here for a few days and you guys only have a few hours left to fish, I wouldn't want to be greedy and fish the run" hoping that was enough to get me off. "Nah, were good" another guy said. Oh boy I thought. I walked slowly towards the run, not because I was nervous but it was because my eyes were closed as I was praying. I think I promised to be a monk or something if I could just catch a fish. First few casts produced nothing. Oh no I thought but then the miracle happened. The fly was attacked and it was a good fish. It ran up the riffle only to turn down stream. I gave chase and ran past the Jedi council and one of the boys netted the fine specimen - a healthy vibrant bow. I reeled up and sat down with satisfaction. "You done already?" someone asked. Oh no, not again I thought. So back over to the riffle I went, prayed again. A few casts produced another vibrant sample… phew, that was lucky. This situation happened once more with the same result. I finally sat down and doubts were soothed, the "grumpy frumpy" was receiving praises. The Jedi examined the fly and asked a few questions. I offered to give him one but he gracefully declined saying that he going to tie some up. It was one of the luckiest moments I've had…. if I could only remember what I promised.
Entering the "canyon" was something out of an adventure novel. The rain didn't bother the beauty it only added a mysteries hue to the dramatic scenery. The rain started as a slow pitter-patter in no time it gained momentum to a steady shower, turning into heavy rain with thunder and lightning. Arriving at camp the setting was nothing short of awesome. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. Camping on the river is one of the coolest things. Fish rising, music playing and the smell of BBQ ribs on the grill was nothing short of superb. I can't wait for tomorrow.
The morning float was magnificent; the view alone is worth the trip. The river breaks up a bit, braids of water branch off and flow at their own pace away from the busy main river current. We parked the boat and ventured over to a hidden braid. The lush green grass tickled your chin as you walked through it. I can't remember the last time I saw eight-foot tall grass, walking through it I felt like a kid again. Grizz stalked this small slice of heaven, enticing some beautiful fish to take his fly. The scenery was energetic and gave you that warm fuzzy feeling that everything else in life that you'd given up to chase fish for was worth it. It felt like home.
The clouds were on the move and followed us thought out the day. We stopped again at another braid. That’s when we witnessed an amazing display of Mother Nature's beauty once more. It started off as a slow sprinkle and it didn't take long before it gave way to a full-fledged downpour. Nothing amazing about that, right… But that’s when it happened. The sky opened up, sunshine broke through but the rain didn't stop. It was incredible to witness no clouds, sunshine and a hard rain.We made our way to camp. The river was alive with emotion. We floated though a dense cold mist, ghostly to say the least. Then we spotted camp. Arriving there the skies were closing in again, rain was brewing. We decided to hurry and set up the tents just incase. Well, midway through you could feel a few drops hitting your skin, then a few more. The sizes of the drops were increasing as well as the speed of which it was coming down. Right about the time the tents were secure the rain transformed into a violent hailstorm. Not tiny-weenie size hail but nickel size, perhaps larger. It pounded the ground for what seemed like hours. Hail, rain, wind it was all here now. Then it stopped; the clouds gave way to the sun and nature acted like nothing happened. Everything was soaked but we didn't care, we were fishing.
Morning came… it shaping up to be another remarkable day. We made our way down the river fishing. Coming to a stop at a backwater braid. It was here that I experienced what I'd like to say is a profound moment when I realized once again what I already knew, I'm not cut our for the city life. Anchored in a riffle casting dry flies to beautiful sipping Cutthroats while listing to a live recording of Neil Young made my arm hairs stand straight up, it was intense. You'd find yourself casting to the beats to magically hooking up at the beginning of a guitar solo and fishing it all the way through the climax of "Cortez the Killer", this is something that will never be able to be duplicated, this is something that I will always remember, this is something that money cannot buy. I'm not sure how the rest of the day went, I was a bit side tracked. The scenery on the row out was a testament of nature beauty and only enhanced the thoughts of adventure. My mind was on the magical riffle, where Neil and the fish were, where I wished I were, where I hope to return to.