By this time we'd converted the living room into a proper flophouse.
I was beginning to feel the effects of too much booze and too little sleep but managed to rally after washing down a couple of breakfast burritos with a can of PBR.
Since the moment he'd picked me up at the airport, WB25 had expressed a strong desire to fish a specific section of river he was particularly fond of, so after breakfast we hit the road to go check it out.
At the put-in we found an unexpected obstacle.
We didn't have a torch, or bolt cutters, or a key to the lock that secured the yellow steel dildo blocking our path, so we asked around and explored some alternative put-ins.
All the other places we looked at were worse, so we came back here, and with the help of two locals lifted the drift boat and rafts over the dildo and carried them down to the water.
WB25, D-nymph, and DayTripper ran shuttle while the rest of us drank beer at the launch.
They were gone for an exceptionally long time, and didn't get back until 3:30 PM.
As soon as they returned, we launched and started to fish.
It was another beautiful day on another beautiful stretch of river.
WB25 told us that this section of the river was thick with smallmouth bass and very, very large trout, so we'd left the dry flies and five weights back at the house.
I opened my streamer box and after a cursory glance DayTripper pointed to one of the flies and said "Clouser. Tie on the Clouser."
I did as I was told and started casting.
And I caught nothing.
At one point we anchored mid-river, though I can't remember why, and as my fly swam through the current below the boat, a small, demented fish approached it and thought "That looks like food."
Then it ate.
The previous afternoon I'd asked DayTripper more than once if I could row his raft.
His answer was always, "No."
Having now caught a fish, I asked him again, and finally he relented.
Once he'd settled into the front of the boat, he turned around and said, "This is a brand new raft, and you're the first person to row it other than me, so please: promise me you won't sink my boat."
I reached into the cooler and handed him a beer and said, "Don't worry dude. I've got this."
I then pulled up the anchor and off we went.
Five minutes into our float, he turned around and said, "You don't row much, do you."
"What makes you say that?" I replied as I sipped on a beer while the boat spun in circles.
Five minutes after that he reeled in his line.
"What's wrong?" I said.
"I can't fish like this. Row over to that beach and drop the anchor."
I went right past the beach and rammed the boat into a downed tree, which saved us from going any further downstream.
We then quickly switched places and were once again on our way.
I made a few more casts with the Clouser and then decided to change flies, so I opened the streamer box and went straight for this.
It's one of the flies steelhound donated to Jerms' fundraiser. Because Jerms had recently made a post that he and his wife were now parents I thought, "That's the fly. That's the one. The game changer. I'm going to tie this thing on, and it's going to be lights out for the rest of the day. I can feel it."
I fished it for over an hour without a grab, then broke it off on a submerged log.
We floated under this guy, hanging in a tree...
...and eventually caught up to D-nymph.
As the day progressed, the current slowed, and the wind died down, and I got very, very tired of throwing streamers.
Fortunately I was with a very understanding and forgiving guide who was willing to give me another chance at the oars, along with some helpful instructions on how to keep the boat straight.
Given my maiden disaster I was initially pretty focused, but when we were still afloat thirty minutes later I started getting cocky.
"Throw your fly between those two logs coming up on your left" I said. "There's gotta be a fish there."
And there was.
He landed another small bass, got a few more grabs, and then hooked something that felt different.
"What's that?" he said as he pulled the fish up to the surface.
"Oh my God!" he yelled. "It's a walleye! I can't believe it! That's a twenty-five inch walleye! We're keeping that one!"
The fish was on it's side, looking up at us, and as it came to the edge of the boat DayTripper said, "I can't believe I caught a walleye! I can't wait to see how ironman cooks it!"
I sat back and watched while man and fish continued to stare at each other, then saw the fish twist and throw the hook.
Just like that, it was gone.
DayTripper just stood there, mouth agape, while I took a drag on my cigar, reached into the cooler, grabbed another beer and said, "I probably should have netted that for you."
The light was fading now, and the current had practically disappeared, so DayTripper insisted I go back to fishing.
"Tie that clouser back on," he said.
I did, and then immediately after that tangled the line, leader, and tippet around the rod. I messed around with it for about five minutes, but because I didn't have my reading glasses on and couldn't really see what I was doing I only made it worse.
Eventually I broke down and dug out my headlamp and reading glasses, and after another ten minutes had passed, I had it all straightened out and was ready to fish.
"Finally!" I said as I took off the cheaters and put them away.
"You get it all straightened out?"
"Good. Now cut off that fly and stow your rod. We need to move."
I put on my distance glasses and saw that we appeared to be in a huge lake.
A few minutes later I couldn't see a thing.
Fortunately for me, DayTripper has night vision. He also had a GPS device.
He turned it on and showed it to me and said, "Up ahead on the left is the dam. We definitely want to stay away from that. See this point? I think it's right up there. Once we get around it we'll be pretty close to the take out."
I nodded, then he turned it off and started rowing like there was something chasing us, while I used the headlamp to watch for submerged logs.
And he rowed.
And he rowed.
Twenty minutes later he said, "I think that's the point."
I couldn't see a thing, so all I did was nod.
He then pulled out his GPS device, turned it on and said, "That is not the point. We're not even close."
Then the batteries in the GPS device died.
DayTripper went back to rowing while I looked for spare batteries in his dry bag.
At some point we noticed a red light roughly half a mile ahead of us. We thought it might be D-nymph, but we couldn't be sure. All I knew was that we were gaining on it.
Another twenty minutes passed, and then suddenly we heard a motorboat roaring up behind us.
"Shine the headlamp back at them so they know we're here."
I did as I was told, and they gave us a wide berth. We watched as the boat raced ahead and then eventually veered to the right and disappeared from view.
I then heard DayTripper say, "That's the point."
By now we were close enough to see that the red light was indeed D-nymph and Porno Mike's brother. We'd caught them because they'd been following the shoreline, taking their time, and they were still fishing.
Eventually we made it around the point and saw that Sak, WB25, and ironman were all waiting for us at the boat ramp.
We got the rafts out of the water and then headed back to the put-in to pick up DayTripper's rig.
We had a late dinner back at the house...
... and then burned the last of the wood and tried to finish whatever booze we had left.
I don't remember taking these photos, so I've no idea what's going on here.
I don't remember taking this photo either, but I'm glad I did.
The next morning we all stumbled out of bed, cleaned the place up, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.
It was one helluva trip with some truly outstanding people, and I hope I have the opportunity to fish with each of them again.