Monday, October 01, 2007

A Two Fingered Salute

Previously I composed a Blog focused on the lack of etiquette that's seems to be permeating our waters. Recently while steelhead fishing in British Columbia I had a run in with angler that underlines my position. This ill-mannered flyfisher was fortunate that I was a foot and a visitor to boot. Given recent disgruntlements between non-residents and locals on Canadian steelhead rivers his day could have ended changing a tire or two. Unfortunately in some instances that and other acts of vandalism are what it’s come to.

I had one remaining day to fish before flying home. My companions had already left, leaving me alone to ply for one last tug. Having fished this river for twenty-one years there were a myriad of familiar options to choose from. That was a problem. I spent a restless night muddling my choices. Walking would limit the amount of water I could fish. Still there were numerous opportunities.

By the time I woke I'd narrowed it down settling on a piece that I hadn’t had the opportunity to fish in a decade. Breakfast was on the fly as I prepared and packed. I was able to borrow an old Suburban for the day; two wheel drive, no power steering, cracked windshield, garbled radio. Inside it looked like the homeless had just checked out. The BC plates pimped out this steelhead poaching rig. Turning over the diesel and heading out I felt right at home. I noticed the tachometer. It read almost 300,000 miles.

Over the years the locals have grown tired of foreigners. Doors once open, have slowly closed, precipitated by an encroaching behavior that has brazenly eroded our once harmonious welcome. Having witnessed such inconsiderate actions in the past and again on this day, I can't blame them for their less than neighborly attitude.

It was pouring. The lush provincial valley lay enshrouded in a stratum of dark clouds. If there was ever a day in the week that had a steelhead sense, this was it. Leaving any semblance of civilization quickly I quietly followed the greasy two lane road that would lead me to my destination. There were few vehicles traveling at this hour. Given how my loaner wandered, I was grateful for this.

Trout Creek, a favorite piece off water for locals, was nearly deserted as I passed. So was where I needed to park. Should the spot have been occupied I would have put into effect, Plan “B”. Not being superstitious I took this fortuitous situation as being a good omen.

It didn’t take long to dress and be head down the damp dense trail to the river. The heavy rain continued. Entering the river corridor it was evident that spring floods had changed little here, but the yellow can that once lay partially buried in the sands for decades had washed away. Relatively fresh tracks occupied the sandy beach. Just because the can was gone, didn’t mean anglers didn’t know where this run was. The boot tracks made this obvious. I scanned the area, but saw no one.

Yellow Can fished so well, I had to fish it twice, not believing that there wasn’t a fish somewhere beneath its ruffled mirrored surface the first pass through. My extended effort produced the same results as the first, much to my chagrin.

The rain continued as I continued to fish in solitude, Ravens and Eagles being the only witness to my presence. Downriver I crossed a small channel to an island that historically has consistently produced. Where other parts of the river seemed unmolested by spring’s torrents, this landmark was totally rearranged. Not wanting the day to pass quickly I leisurely plied the waters and casually strolled from run to run. Besides, navigating greased ledges and loose rock isn’t the easiest going.

I hung my heavy pack on the end of a 100’ cottonwood. It was one of hundreds deposited in mass by the spring flood. I took a moment to ponder the significance of natures power. From this juncture to the head of the run at the top of the island was three hundred yards. The first hundred yards is easy. The second in knee deep water more laborious.

I wasn’t really attentive as I entered the water. The shimmering water, towering cottonwoods and snow laden peaks diverted my attention. Periodically I’d check my progress and make sure I was far enough from where these fish might lie. On one such occasion a hint of movement caught my eye. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks, the damp air distorting my aging vision. Moments later there was no mistaking the two boaters quietly drifting downriver. Unconcerned I continued.

Half way up the run I stopped to survey the intruders noticing one was nearing the head of the run I sought to fish. Knowing that I was readily visibly and the habits of most steelheaders I didn’t give this a second thought. From their perspective there was no mistaking my intent. Moments later he stopped. Dumbstruck I just stared, not believing that someone would so blatantly cut me off.

At this distance the evil eye generated little impact. To verbally accost him would only intensify the situation and further mar my day. After all, he was well aware of what he was doing. Verbal confirmation would not change the obvious. Dismayed I simply raised both arms with freak flags flying and bowed. “Fucker” quietly slipped from my lips before I rose. Smiling, I headed on knowing how spiteful the steelhead gods can be. Paybacks are a bitch.

I didn’t touch a fish that day. There have been many such days on steelhead rivers in my life that have ended this way. It’s part of the game. But, that which I experienced unexpectedly was something new. Given the growing lack of consideration on our trout waters I shouldn’t have been surprised. That single incident appreciably spoiled what could have been a perfect day. Regrettably even in steelhead country where we are often guests, self-serving interests are permeating a world where once semblances of order and standards were religiously followed.


Andy said...

Very captivating writing. Nicely done. I am surprised that you got cutoff like that. I have to say though that for a younger fly fisherman, I have noticed that its my dad and uncle that have a lack of etiquette. Or perhaps it's dwindled over the years.

Andy said...

This is fantastic writing. Very captivating. I hate the lack of etiquette and ironically, the older generations I've fished with lack the etiquette that I expect when fishing.