thee streamside companion & angler's frequent respite

treatise, pomes, fine etchings & lyrics re. and not re. flyfishing (with an angle)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

deschutes excerpts 4/16-18

On my kitchen blackboard, I wrote some themes: wonder, basalt, snakes, no snakes, non-commerce, safety. I wrote them in my weak script and then went to drink a beer.
Sometimes only a few words are an immense effort.

I guess these are themes only because these are the things that have lingered. They’ve stuck around during the long drive, a couple work days, a hockey game and a pint or two. Yet the only thing I see in my mind’s eye is Tiger Stadium.
I walked thru the gates with my old man, relishing the picture of my two brothers undoubtedly writhing in agonizing jelousy back home. I was a baseball nut by that time -- age 5 -- and finally, finally getting thru the gates at Michigan and Trumble made me gasp with anticipation. We walked up the long ramps outside the stadium, my old man trying to keep me tethered; me bouncing, skipping, chattering like mad. As we stepped into the grand old park, I will never forget the glowing green field, the space, defined by the stands, the bleachers, the scoreboard. My feet could not move. I stood there, agape and agog, taking in this gorgeous baseball box canyon. We sat beside one of the stately columns -- columns that would doom this ballpark in the eyes of the souless-- and I took it all in, 9 inning's worth of baseball’s comforting flow.

A river canyon in the American West is a special place. Anyone on this website knows that. It holds everything we crave -- it holds the river, deep and cold; the trout we fish for even deeper and colder, the noises of the water and wildlife scatter and join the sage wind. It is the container that holds, to paraphrse McLean, “that perfect place” that every real fisherman creates within his heart.

David James Duncan writes of the notion of wonder: “unknowing experienced as pleasure.” That is a river canyon. Wonder, think about that!

We drove into the Deschutes, according to Karl, the wrong way. The drive was beautiful and green and twisting. I floated the Deschtes with WT. We drifted and spun and bounced in the current. Reduced. Immense. Only able to say the most obvious things -- lotta water.

Water. Polish soul food. Chai. Hummous. Olives. Elk Burgers. Winston Lights. Mole sausage, finoccia, and hot sopresetta, L’il Debbie. Keg of tightrope amber. Weed. Asprin. Taco Bell. Duck and lentil soup. Greek olives. Bourbon, single malt, Busch tall boys. Hot pepper cheeze. Emanthaler.

Wet wipes

Loaded for bear: streamer rod, nymph rod (2 flies) and dry rod (2 flies). I caught a fish on my very first cast - a dumb little flip. A medium sized nickel bright 12er decided he had to eat that fly. I obliged and knew, instantly, deep down, that I was cursed. Of course, I gave a w00t! And a Ra! And hoped to keep exercising these stupid Deschutes redsides. I didn’t catch a trout for another 2 hours.

It is a good fly stream wasted. What Yak bum floating the D hasn’t had this thought?

If only the Yak were managed this well. What scud dragger hasn’t pondered this possibility?

Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sunrise would kill me.
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of me
--Walt Whitman

Nothing beats waking up on the river. In a canyon. It is possibility coupled with wonder. What a heady brew! All senses awake! Better, yes, it is shared!

We were standing along a bank broken by rocks and bars and what you’d call very small mini islands. Bugs were sporadic, but they were almost audibly popping. Big bugs. Size 14 bwos, march browns, same size -- smaller than our beloved Yak boys -- a coupla mahoganys -- bigger than our shy Yak boys. I grabbed the dry rod. I had a grind ‘em out combo on: grey parachute and a quigly. These are workmanlike flies, but they can be also be precise, sharp, trout-catching machines. I’d flogged the water to vapor with the nymph rig taking 4 trout. WT was pondering a hopeless tangle. It was go time. Get in the boat. We gotta get to where the fish are eating these bugs. We floated 200 feet, to the bottom of a slutty run. I asked WT: you want up or down. WT chose down. I ran up. Up was what I wanted. I thanked the gods. Up ! Yes!
The trout were there. Why did he say down? **** it. Cast. OK. There it is. No. Where. Splash! Strike. On! As the say in Canada, there are no ugly goals. I’ll take it. I saw the next two. Got the next 3 by ESP and saw the rest -- maybe. Call it a decent dozen. No huge ones. Still, a dozen trout is a massive number considering I didn’t move my feet. Trout ranged from 15-12 some shiny, some soot covered. Spawners, said the OR boys.

There is nothing to buy in the Deschutes River canyon. I can’t think of a better compliment.

Two grown men. Both fly fishermen. Both share a campfire. Both snake experts!
I have eaten a bowl of cheerios with a 4 foot rattler swimming around in the bowl.
Pffft. When I was 12 I played little leauge using a diamonback as a bat. Hit .359. 17 Home runs.

I started to talk about that first day walking into Tiger Stadium. I wanted to compare those columns holding the stadium up to the columnar basalt tower in this canyon and how the stadiums columns caused it to be torn down, but I was shushed quick and firm. Listen: we sat by the crack of the fire and heard rocks smashing down the walls. No, not a train. Rocks. Who said it? I can’t remember but he wondered: How great would it be if those slides trapped us in here?



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