- Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:31 pm
[report]I woke the next morning, went downstairs, and found two folding tables full of lunch making ingredients: meats, cheeses, breads, spreads, fruit, chips, and candy bars.
After making my lunch, I put it in a paper bag, wrote my name on the bag, double-checked the whiteboard, put it in the proper cooler, and then lined up for breakfast.
After breakfast, I walked to the mud room and put on my waders. I purchased new wading boots for this trip, because Alaska doesn't allow felt, and as I started putting them on I looked over at the guy sitting across from me and noticed that he had the same style and brand of boots that I had.
Only his were felt.
"How do you like those boots?" I asked.
"They're great. Really comfortable."
He then looked up from what he was doing and quickly glanced at my boots and said, "I see you have the same kind I do."
"Almost the same," I replied.
A moment or two later he froze, and I watched the color drain from his face.
"Shit! These are my felt boots! I brought the wrong goddamn pair of boots!"
Another fellow at the lodge made the same mistake, and ended up wearing his tennis shoes all week.
I left the mud room and walked down to the dock. On the way there I passed the fuel depot.
It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.
Neil and I and two other guests we didn't know got into one of the covered boats, along with the guides, and the six of us then took off across the lake.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at this beach, which was next to the mouth of a fairly good sized river.
The guides then transferred everything from the covered boat into the two uncovered boats, and once that was done, we headed upriver.
Our guide for the day was a fellow by the name of Mike. He said that he was primarily a salmon guide, and that he was only filling in at our lodge for a week or two until his next salmon guiding gig started someplace farther north. He said that he wasn't much of a fly fisherman, and preferred "catching over casting" (his words).
At least he was honest about it.
Months prior to the trip, Neil asked me what I planned to bring in the way of rods and reels, and I replied,
"Well, unless I read the brochure wrong, the lodge provides all rods, reels, tackle, and flies, so yeah. I'm not bringing shit, other than a box of flies that a friend of mine gave me. Why would I bring my own gear and risk losing or breaking it when I can use theirs?"
Neil of course felt differently, and brought just about every rod and reel he owned, along with leaders, tippet, and boxes upon boxes of flies.
Roughly fifteen minutes after leaving the lake, Mike killed the motor, dropped anchor, and told us to get out of the boat.
Before the trip I'd asked Neil if I would need a wading staff.
"Nah," he replied. "It's all sand up there."
Sand my ass.
Sometimes it pays to trust your instincts in spite of what you're told.
Once I was out of the boat, Mike handed me a fully rigged rod and said, "Fish there."
I immediately started catching these.
Mike said they were Dolly Varden, which is a type of fish I'd never caught nor seen before.
For some reason Neil was struggling, and so Mike tried to help him. What Mike didn't know was that Neil hates it when anyone tries to help him.
In the meantime I continued to catch fish, and landed close to twenty before we broke for lunch.
That's when I discovered that Dolly Varden are also quite delicious.
While the guides were cooking up the fish I asked Neil how he was doing.
"I hate fishing with someone looking over my shoulder," he replied.
Then he walked downstream and started fishing.
I then took Mike aside and said, "Neil won't say anything, and I know you're just doing your job and trying to be helpful, but he'd prefer it if you just left him alone and let him do his thing."
Mike was very cool about it and said, "No problem man. Whatever makes you guys happy. This is your trip."
After lunch I caught my very first grayling.
It was while we were drifting downriver, and I was struggling to get a decent picture of the grayling, and Mike was struggling to get the fly out, all while Neil continued fishing up on the bow, that we hit the rock.
Neil fell into the bottom of the boat and landed on his back, and his fancy rod and reel went over the side. We were able to retrieve it, but Neil was more cranky than usual for the rest of the day.
I caught a handful of rainbows before we motored down to the beach.
Then the guides transferred everything into the big boat, and we headed back to the lodge.
Dinner was decent.
And that night we all got good and drunk before turning in.[/report]