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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mean Rocks

There are days of fishing when I look forward to familiar water. In some cases that is water I have been to several times and in some cases it is water I have frequented for years. It really does get to a point where I feel like "I know every rock". There is a certain comfort in returning to the known. Water I have fished many times brings back memories; the memories are distinct and the memories blend together. They all add to the sense of anticipation. There are times when I crave the familiar.

Ahh but there are times when I make myself look for new water. I start the day and and tell myself that today I will not fish any water I have ever fished. I make that commitment to myself and tell myself that I will hold to it even if it means driving, stopping, walking, looking, and never making a single cast. Twice last summer I did exactly that. I spent the whole day trying to find access and good flats on some large bodies of water. I never made a cast; in fact on one of those days, the rod never left the truck.

I just did it again; I went looking for new water. The Columbia is wide and long; there is a lot of river to explore. I had been driving from my starting point for close to 90 minutes. I already tried a small pull off but could not find a way to the river. I tried another one and went down to look at the river. I didn't see any tails and the water looked difficult to wade. There was a rock point which I couldn't see around. I was curious what was on the other side so I went back to the truck and geared up.

What made this spot difficult was the number or rocks, the size of the rocks, and the shape of the rocks. There were rocks almost everywhere. They were big and many of them had straight edges rather than being rounded. Also, while standing on them, they would shift, making it quite challenging to keep my middle age butt from falling in. Most disconcerting of all is that many of these rocks were mean rocks.

It was a short walk to the rock point. As I got to it there was a fish tailing just on the other side. I stripped off line and made an excellent first cast. I smiled and felt pretty smug because I was sure I was going to connect on my first effort. No love. The fish just casually ambled off to deep water.

I walked, saw two more tailers, made my approach, and cast. Still no love. Around another small corner of sorts I saw a target in deeper water. It wasn't tailing but it was on the bottom and it wasn't moving; maybe it was feeding. I made easily 20 casts to my quarry. It was amazing to me I hadn't spooked it. I must confess I even changed flies and continued to cast. When the wind settled a bit and I realized I was casting to a rock all I could do was laugh at myself. In my defense, as it turns out, like I said, most of the rocks in this area are mean rocks. That mean rocked tricked me.

After the tricky rock I was able to hook up. The fish was in the high teens. It slurped up my Carrot just like it should and took off. He stayed hooked until he was at my feet. Now that's love.

While I brought several to hand that were in the teens the mean rocks claimed four. I had one in the 20's that I could see while he thrashed around very near me. He headed out into the river, made a right turn and the line went slack. I knew he hadn't come unbottoned; he swam through some jagged rocks and just like that the leader was sawed off.

As if it wasn't enough that the mean rocks claimed four very nice fish they claimed more. While standing on a rock pile and scanning for fish, I made a slight turn to the right to watch a fish move into sight. I didn't even lift my feet; I just shifted my weight slightly to look to the right. The rocks beneath me shifted and I went down. What's the worst thing here? A. There were two rips in my pants from the rocks. B. My leg was bleeding. C. My rod and reel banged the rocks on the way down. D. Three sections of the rod had gouges and scratches. E. The fish was spooked by all the comotion.

I hate falling. I yelled, "NO!" and stood up quickly. Picking up the rod I headed back to shore. I emptied out my pockets and my wading pack. At this point I hadn't actually noticed the gouges in the rod.

The correct answer to the multiple choice question above is "F". None of the above. I left my weigh sling on the shore and didn't realize it until the next day. That is bugging me more than the damaged rod or the swollen knee.

I don't count casting to the tricky rock as fishing so it is mostly accurate to say I only fished with the Carp Carrot. All the fish I caught were on the Carrot; that's accurate.

Here is a capture from before I fell. This particular fish fought very well and he allowed me to play him near and around a couple difficult rock piles. He did fin wrap himself and then while he was at me feet he rolled over and had the leader wrapped all the way around. I was able to get it off actually pretty easily. He took a ride in the weigh sling and then he posed for a quick picture.

I caught one more fish after the tumble. I looked down at the rod and reel to watch the fish peel off line and saw the gouges in the butt section. I was lucky it was one of the smaller fish of the day.

My leg hurt; it was time to call it quits and say goodbye to the "Mean Rock Swim".

Mean Rocks

Very Mean Rocks

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