So I found myself on the River Styx the other afternoon. Not a river I hate because its ugly, or because there are no fish, but more so because over the last decade this river has baffled me and kept me on my toes to the point I have been pulling my grey hairs out with vigor. Now do not get me wrong, this river is awesome, home to steelhead, salmon and a few trout, not to mention a great place to skate a fly. I have just had a love hate relationship with it for a longtime.
Now I got to the river at high noon and as we well know, your odds are not the best when the sun is right on you. It didn't really matter to me though since I finally got some me time, much needed these days and found a run all to myself. So after working down this run, I found a seam line in some fast water I had never spent a lot of time working. The seam was on the other side of the river and I figured out how to keep my fly in the zone.
After making several casts into it, all of a sudden two guys stepped through the bushes and started to chat about the salmon fishing. They saw me fishing from the road and wondered what guys fly fished for there. It was pretty funny and on the next cast I turned to say something when I finally got that grab. The loop was taken from me and I set the hook. It took off then did what I hate, ran upstream. Between stripping in line and doing that damn Statue of Liberty thing I hate seeing trout guys do, I finally got the line tight before she screamed downstream again. After walking down the run and making sure she did not break me off on rock grindage, I put her on the bank.
Not bad for a Friday afternoon, but the day got better. That evening I was invited to spend the evening and have dinner at a friend’s establishment. That evening I was able to spend some time with John Gierach, you know the original Trout Bum. John and friend Vince Zounek was spending some time in the Pacific Northwest visiting friends and playing with steelhead. It just so happens that John also caught his first steelhead on the Styx that day.
Later that evening we shared stories like fishermen do about fish, home waters, species and gear. John is a very down to earth guy and glad I finally got to meet the guy whose stories I have read over the years. The next day we planned to meet on the river.
The next morning I woke at a reasonable hour and drove downstream. Without seeing them all morning, driving up and down the river and getting side tracked by beautiful runs I had to swing, I noticed the time. I had to make an appointment and on the way down the river the last time found them. John and Vince were working through a run and experimenting with new equipment. We chatted a bit more and I am still laughing that on the day we both caught fish on the river, mine came on a MOAL and his came on a traditional featherwing called an Akyroyd. He said it was a generational difference and I got to admit, he is right. Then again I would fish one if I could tie one.
It was neat to talk to John and Vince. Vince is one of the characters John writes about on their fishing adventure. The best part about it was seeing that these two longtime fishing buddies were not unlike my friends and I. It brings so much more to the adventures he shares with us in his writing. These adventures are not unlike our own and his articulate writing style, humor and knowledge brings what the true meaning of why we fly fish back to us when we cannot break free on our own adventures. Searching for Gierach was a well spent day on the river.