It’s a wonder I have any friends at all. The kind that take off work for two days for your 40th birthday. Those that know you well enough to understand that the party should be a fishing trip and nothing more. Real friends who accept I’m not a birthday party guy or into social gatherings. Let me explain why I’m amazed by all of this.
Sunday night, I was talking to my wife about a trip to Grand Isle, LA over the past weekend and how the fishing was decent and so on. As expected, she was only mildly interested. Her slight interest was mostly because her uncle and cousin were there fishing with me. The last thing mentioned was how I needed to call my buddy and deliver some bad news. She perked right up, “What happened?”
Her attention really caught me off guard. The zombie from two minutes earlier was now all ears and super captivated. Taking advantage of my newly acquired audience, I spun a great tale of a freakishly huge redfish and the ultimate sacrifice made by my friend’s 9 weight. All she heard was, “you borrowed his rod and broke it?” As I’m struggling to understand her concern and attempting to form a sentence, she interrupts me. But not with the usual “you broke another fly rod” speech.
Instead, I learned that the guy who owned the 9 weight had been planning my 40th birthday party for two months. He’s been busy getting his boat ready and tying big streamers for a month. And we’re leaving in less than a week. Yep, I’m that guy! Now you’re amazed I have any friends, right?
Fortunately, and unfortunately, we didn’t get the flows that are typical for late January on the White. We had minimum flows on the White and the Norfork ran one unit for three hours on Monday. The big sticks weren’t needed much but that had little impact on our decision to throw streamers. We had traveled here to throw meat and that was what we were going to do. Generation was more of a nicety at this point, but we did have a secret weapon; Angela Merkel. Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
We fished the White on Sunday and it rained all day. Angela initially took her place beside the rear bench directly below my position on the Hog Island. She hated the rain but loved my fly line. Like a cat with a ball of string she grabbed it often. Wasn’t long before Angela was moved to the back of the boat. At the first shoal, Karma rewarded my buddy with a 22-inch brown. Unfortunately, that was the only good karma of the day. It was late afternoon when our sore arms demanded we drift indicators and stick a few fish. A decision we would later regret.
My opinion of the water depth was, it was too deep to exit the boat. Someone else, whose identity will remain a secret, saw it differently. As, his name isn't Brad, departed the boat in what can only be described as a wet exit, we knew Angela was responsible. About an hour later, while trying to free his midge from a rock, the dude with the broken 9 weight, broke his 4 weight. Sunday was a tough day for us. The only sighting of a 30-inch brown was hanging on the wall of a local burger joint, Taylor’s Freeze-King in Gassville, AR. It became very obvious Angela wasn’t impressed with our group later that night. While unloading gear, I stepped in cat poop and tracked it into our room.
Monday, we headed out early to chase the limited high water on the Norfork. Not wanting a repeat of the prior day, we relocated Angela several times before she found a spot she liked. In the beginning, she perched on the right oar. When the anchor line broke sending the anchor to the bottom of the river, we took the hint and started moving her on a regular basis. She seemed pleased with the attention and in return kept the remainder of trip out of the ditch.
|Bag of rocks is a good substitute for an anchor|
The birthday ended at the confluence of the White river sharing fish stories and planning several future trips. In that last hour of daylight, we worked out all the logistics and the world seemed to agree with our lofty endeavors. It became clear that this trip was less about the pursuit and more about friendship. Tomorrow we’ll deploy our secret weapon, Angela Merkel, in hopes of trying to secure permission from our better halves.