- Sun Aug 08, 2021 4:46 pm
The Google said It would be faster and shorter to go through the parks, but I did that last year, and… fuck that. Paying $70.00 in order to slowly creep behind a bunch of tourists in their big RV’s with no place to pass them is as bad as rush hour traffic as far as I’m concerned, so I brushed the western entrance of Yellowstone and then headed north into Montana. My route took me along the Gallatin, which appeared to have more fly fishers than fish, as well as through Bozeman. It was a weekday, and the streets were mobbed with pedestrians and vehicles looking for someplace to park. Add a bunch of homeless and their tents to that mix and it could have been downtown SF.
There’d been an ice shortage in Boise: most places were out, and those that did have ice were limiting customers to two bags each. Some of the gas stations I stopped at in Montana were doing the same. I needed a few sacrificial bags for the empty coolers I’d brought so they’d be cold by the time I hit Cody, so I bought ice wherever I could.
The luau campsite wouldn't be available until the next day, and all of the campgrounds I passed were full. Fortunately Hero graciously offered to put me up for the night, and when I arrived we took some beers down to the river behind his house and got bit by mosquitoes while watching his dogs have fun.
Later that evening he cooked up some incredible venison sliders for dinner, and after a nightcap or two I turned in.
The next morning I hit the road, and three hours later I pulled into Lando’s driveway. We both knew FishSkiBum wasn’t going to make it this year because of some unexpected family issues, but Hagen surprised us by bailing at the last minute in favor of a trip to Mexico.
After catching up a bit I headed over to the campground and unloaded the truck, then returned to town for groceries, beer, and ice. Once back at camp I started prepping for dinner.
Randall Dee and the Euro Nympher were the first to arrive.
Steamin’ and his buddy Nolan pulled in later that evening, and it was great to finally meet guys I’d known only through the board.
Lando gave me a hand cooking up some cheesesteak sandwiches and fries for dinner, and we served them up with a one star Caesar salad.
Steamin’ helped with breakfast the next morning.
Afterwards he and Nolan and Randall Dee tackled the dishes before everyone headed out for the day. Once everyone was gone I filled the smoker with ribs and made a bunch of pizza dough, along with a batch of pico and guac, a pot of mac and cheese, a pot of meat and beans, a pot of Spanish rice, and some other shit.
When the boys got back, Nolan helped me fry up ten pounds of chicken, and we served it up with smoked pork ribs, smoked beef ribs, mac and cheese, and meat and beans. Hero arrived just before dinner, and everyone but the Euro Nympher helped with the dishes.
The next morning I cooked up some breakfast burritos and then made an ice run. When I got back to camp, Steamin, Randall, and Nolan were on their way to a river Lando had recommended. That meant Lando, Hero, and I were stuck with the Euro Nympher. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Hero pulled out this.
We’d agreed to run shuttle for Steamin’, Randall, and Nolan, and Lando suggested we fish along the way. We made our first stop, and Hero and the Euro Nympher went to work. I’d brought a rod but was curious as to what these guys were up to and so I didn’t bother setting it up.
Hero and his Rapala proved to be deadly.
Lando wanted to give it a try, and Hero said, “Sure. Let me work the water upstream, and you can have the water below.”
Hero walked up to the head of the run and started casting, slowly making his way downstream as he did so. When he got to where Lando and I were sitting he walked right past us and started fishing the downstream run.
I looked at Lando and said, “Weren't you supposed to fish that water?”
He just shrugged.
Near the bottom of the run Hero hooked a really nice fish. During the fight the eyebolt at the head of the Rapala separated from the lure, and the fish was gone. Hero could see the fish resting, it’s mouth full of treble hooks, but there was nothing he could do.
Then I heard Lando say, “Karma’s a bitch.”
Hero tied on another Rapala, and after a couple of casts it got snagged in a piece of plastic embedded at the bottom of the river. He ended up breaking it off and said, “That twenty bucks gone in less than five minutes.”
Then I heard Lando say, “Sometimes Karma’s a bitch, and sometimes it’s a really nasty bitch.”
The Euro Nympher was on the opposite side of the river, a grimace on his face and in his, “I’ve been eating nothing but Big Macs for a week and this shit won’t come out” crouch.
Lando then decided that the Euro Nympher and Hero should engage in a little competition to see who could catch the most fish. Lando found a couple of old surveying flags on the road, gave one to me and said, “You’re the judge for Hero. When he catches a fish, raise the flag and blow the whistle. I’ll keep an eye on the Euro Nympher.”
“What are the stakes?” I replied. “If we’re going to do this there should be some kind of wager.”
“Loser has to shotgun a White Claw,” said Lando.
“Winner gets to choose the flavor,” said Hero.
“Does it come in root beer?”
“God I hope not,” said Hero. “That would be awful.”
And so it began.
(Photo courtesy of Lando.)
It was a close contest, and at one point I told Hero, “If you really want to win this thing then slip me $100 and we’ll walk around this bend where they can’t see us. When we get back I’ll say you caught seven.”
“That would be cheating.”
“Of course it’s cheating, but you want to win, right? Tell you what. Forget the $100.”
“I can’t do it.”
“Well then enjoy that White Claw.”
And so at the end of the day, it came to this.
When we got back to camp I ran to the store and picked up a couple pounds of fresh Pacific cod, along with some more ice.
Hero’s sister and her two children joined us at camp later that afternoon, and she brought a beautiful berry pie she’d baked earlier that day. Once everyone was back I put Steamin’, Nolan, and Hero in charge of making margaritas, and later on they helped me with dinner. That night featured guacamole, pico de gallo, quesadillas, fried fish tacos, steak tacos, rice, beans, and a one star southwestern salad. Everyone helped with the cooking and cleanup except for the Euro Nympher.
The next morning Lando made an incredible skillet breakfast that he served up with naan bread. (See Steamin’s TR for a photo.)
Lando gave Steamin’ and Nolan directions to another river they could float, while Hero and the Euro Nympher headed out to parts unknown.
Lando and I made another ice run, and when we got back to camp he talked me into floating the town water. As we were about to leave we found Randall resting in his van. His eyes were hurting so bad from the smoke and pollen in the air that he could barely see, but he decided to tough it out and join us.
Randall and the red dog took the front of the boat, and I took the back.
I rigged up and made a cast.
“What have you got on there?” Lando asked.
“A dry fly.”
“You’d be a lot better off throwing a streamer.”
After a couple of minutes passed he said, “How about I put a dropper on there?”
A few minutes after that he said, “How do you feel about fishing two dry flies?”
“One is fine.”
I let a big downstream belly form in the line and watched as it ripped the fly across the surface. I could see Lando’s knuckles turn white, and I said, “You’re doing a great job of not telling me what I’m doing wrong today.”
“Doesn’t mean I’m not thinking it.”
Lando gave Randall some allergy medicine, which seemed to help his eyes once it kicked in, and towards the end of the float he caught his first tiger trout. It was a great day.
Hero and the Euro Nympher ended up beating us back to camp. Tonight would be pizza night, and Hero went to work grating cheese and chopping up toppings as I was making the pizza sauce. While we were busy with that, the Euro Nympher buried his nose into his phone.
Once everyone was back at camp, I dredged spoonfuls of leftover mac and cheese in an egg wash, rolled them in panko, and dropped them into the deep fryer. Afterwards everybody made their own pizza with their choice of toppings, and we followed that up with a one star Caesar salad.
The next morning everyone except me and Lando started packing up. Someone asked the Euro Nympher, “So are you finally going to cook up that Mountain Man breakfast you’ve been promising us?”
“No, I gotta run.”
“So I guess we’re not going to get a taste of that Basque cocktail you said you were going to make us either.”
The Euro Nympher then came up to me and tried to give me $40.
“Keep it," I said. "By the way, I really appreciate all of your help in camp.”
He put the money on the table and said, “Throw it away if you don’t want it.”
I gave it to Lando.
After everyone left I did some organizing around camp and saw that the Euro Nympher had killed the entire bottle of Booker’s that RockinDaddyNotFromTN had sent me, along with half the handle of Maker’s I’d brought. Had he been more of a help around camp I wouldn’t have cared, but I’ve no use for people who are lazy, cheap, and enjoy staring at a fucking phone.
Lando, Randall, Steamin’, Nolan, and Hero are all outstanding individuals, and if you ever get the chance to meet or fish with any of them, jump on it. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to spend more time with each of them in the not too distant future. As for the Euro Nympher: FTG
Lando brought a bunch of leftovers to his friend Gene and then picked up a few things at the grocery store, including a twelve pack of Budweiser. That night I made Pad Thai for dinner, and afterwards we sat and talked while the last of the firewood turned to ash.
Last edited by Average Joe on Mon Aug 09, 2021 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.