Trips With Friends :// by Joseph Bartholomew
Fishing buddies, we’ve all got them, and they are bound to be some of the most
interesting characters you’ll ever come across. They range from white-haired dry fly
purists, who are still rocking their hip waders and glass rod from the 60’s, to that college
kid who only uses streamers the same size as the average fish in the river. You’ve got
yours, and I’ve got mine.
One constant, is that the trips you go on will create the kind of
memories that you reminisce on during warm summer evenings on your porch. It
doesn’t matter if it was a legendary trip to fish Patagonia, where you slam a 30+ inch
brown, or that disaster of a trip where you sludge through knee deep snow for countless
miles to fish ice off at a “fire” lake, just to find that all the fish died in terrible winter kill.
There will never be a trip that you regret. The stories, experiences, inside jokes, and
memories always outlast what may have been an extremely unsuccessful trip. As I look
back on the past year, one trip in particular stands out in my mind.
The trip this year that I won’t soon forget, wasn’t terribly extravagant or
expensive, but illustrated what is so magical about being out on the water with good
buddies. This a trip was along a little creek that isn’t too far from me. This creek is one
that I am fortunate enough to fish a few times a year, but always as only a day trip. This
trip was going to be different, we were going to make this an epic three-day
backpacking trip. I got two of my friends aboard, and we made a final plan to leave on
Wednesday, and return on Friday.
After a week of constant daydreaming of slaying fish
in the mountains, the day finally arrived. We packed up the car and after a beautiful car
ride, we got dropped off at the trailhead by my mom. That’s right, my mom dropped us
off at the trailhead, my buddies and I are all in high school, and none of us were over 16
(so it’s a minor miracle that the forest didn’t get burned down).
We got our packs on, I rigged my brand new Blue Halo 3 wt up, and just like that, we were off. That must have
been a sight, three teenagers with precariously packed backpacks, with rod tubes,
cooking equipment, and plenty of other items hanging by granny knots off our packs.
We soon were out of sight of the road, and the bustling urban life was soon replaced by
the beauty of virtually untouched nature. After a few miles, we finally had a chance to
drop our packs and fish! The trickle of a creek produced a few healthy fish in that first
break, and just like that, we were back on the trail.
Another few miles, and fishing
breaks later we finally made it to the hollow we previously decided to camp at. Packs
were dropped, my buddy’s rod was rigged, and we hopped eagerly into the creek. A
cast into the first riffle produced a nice brookie, as did the second, this scenario played
out throughout the hour or two we fished before we headed back to camp. Just as we
rolled into camp, a huge storm front interrupted our thoughts and made setting up camp
as soon as humanly possible the highest priority.The first drops of rain poured down on
us just as we got our tents up and threw our packs in them. We decided that we would
settle in my tent for the storm (as it was the biggest by far).
During the next hour, rain
and hail pelted our tent as only it can in the high country. After the torrential downpour,
we climbed out of the tent to inspect the damage. Aside from some water in all of our
tents, our equipment was fine, but the creek on the other hand…. Had nearly doubled in
size, and the visibility was less than ¼”. We spent the rest of that day chucking rocks
into the muddy hillside, trying to get them to stick in and eating our sodden backpacking
food. As we fell asleep that night our thoughts were hopeful that the stream would clear
up and luckily for us, it did.
In the morning the water looked fishable, so we took off up
the creek before breakfast. We made our way up the creek and were greeted with
gradually clearer water, and for me, a new PB brown from that particular stream (15”).
After catching more fish than we could count, we walked the 2 miles back to
camp. We ate a lovely breakfast of mashed potatoes and loaded our day packs up and
headed up the trail. At about 3 miles up we started fishing, the fish acted like they had
never seen a fly before (and they probably hadn’t)! We fished the best-looking holes all
the way until we reached the beaver dams we had found on google maps.
beaver dams produced fish, after fish and then as quickly as the action started, it would
shut off. We fished these on our way up to wherever the trail was going to take us. We
found out that ahead lay the most pristine, clear, and beautiful section of water I have
ever laid my eyes upon. Every cast it seemed would produce a fish. Most of them a
strain of Cutthroat that had big spots on their eyes. We fished the creek for countless
hours that day before deciding to go back to camp.
On the hike back to camp we saw
many deer and a black bear (that we steered well clear of). There is honestly nothing
more perfect than that day, two buddies deep in the most beautiful country you can
imagine fishing, hiking and talking about everything. About two hours later we finally
made it back to camp wet, smelly, dirty, but wearing the biggest smiles you can
imagine. After arriving in camp we kicked off our wet shoes, put on clean ones and
lazed around camp for a bit until dinner time came.
A quick trip to the creek alongside
the camp produced two healthy brook trout destined to go along with my potatoes. Let
me tell you, that dinner was so tasty after a long, fun day. We hung up the bear bag
right after dinner and hit the hay hard. The next day we woke up early to take down
camp. We quickly did so and were on the trail soon after. We safely made it down to the
trailhead and waited for my mom to take us, three boys, back to civilization.
arrived, she was clearly surprised that both us and the forest survived. We threw our
packs in the back and climbed in, buckled up as my mom drove back politely ignoring
the stench of three teenage boys after a gnarly backpacking trip.