Friday, October 9, 2009

Relaxation comes to those who farm and fish

As torrential rain loomed in the forecast yesterday, I felt an overwhelming need to try my luck before the river became unfishable. Unfortunately a number of events tried to prevent me from my relatively simple goal. First of all I had scheduled the demise of our beloved steer "Inky" for yesterday morning so these proceedings took a few hours out of my morning, and while providing a lovely meal of fresh liver and onions it cut in to my precious fishing time. An unseen consequence of Inky's butchering was the violent reaction Richard had to the loss of his pasture mate. At first Richard just bellowed and made pitiful sounds, a reaction to the smell of blood on the ground, or a sadness he felt to the loss of his friend, that's for you to judge. I really don't know, but what I do know is this perceived sadness soon changed to rage, and Richard decided he no longer wanted to be fenced in. After breaking free once, Amy and I were able to coax him back into his pasture where he remained for most of the afternoon. Fast forward to 1:00. With Amy getting ready to head to the chiropractor and the kids in school I slipped on my waders, tied on a hot flash and began walking down the hill to slippery riffle. As I approached the river with trout on my mind I heard Amy yelling from the deck to come back to the house. I quickly returned to the house slightly out of breath, and was informed that the school had called and Molly needed to be picked up as she was sick. With Amy headed to town I loaded a booster seat in the van (yes the same van that transports the drunks and fishermen to the river) and headed to Dora to pick up my sick kid. After picking Molly up I returned home eagerly awaiting the return of my beloved wife hoping she would be here in time for me to continue my fishy conquest. Fast forward to 4:30. Amy returned from town and graciously allowed me to suit up and head to the river for an hour or two of fishing. I stepped into the water eagerly casting to a riffle that I was sure would be teeming with hungry trout. After about 10 minutes of futile casting I was able to coax a tiny rainbow to bite my fly, and while this may seem insignificant I was thrilled as I have slowly been improving my left handed fly fishing technique and now am starting to catch fish. (The tennis elbow I am suffering from has not been improving much so I decided to start fly fishing left handed which is much like starting over. Amy and I fished on Wednesday from Patrick bridge to James and casting and catching quite a few browns improved my confidence in my off handed presentation.) I continued fishing for 10 or 15 minutes to no avail and decided to change to a smaller beadhead stonefly nymph that friend and local guide Kyle Kosovich had given me earlier in the week. Another 10 minutes passed when my line was suddenly shaken by what I perceived to be a better fish. My assumption was correct as he swiftly ran downstream upon feeling the hook pull in his mouth. This run was stopped in it's tracks as the fly line rudely wrapped around the reel handle and held fast. Fearing my line would snap I frantically worked to unwrap the line and allow my opponent a chance to run and wear himself down. I accomplished this task and was then faced with fighting a good fish offhanded, with my reel still set up for my normal left handed retrieve. Prior to catching this fish I had simply been stripping in the smaller fish as there is really no need to get them on the reel unless they are big enough to take some drag. This fish was big enough and I struggled mightily to get him on the reel where I felt confident I could then fight him. After getting him on the reel he continued to run downstream in a series of quick short bursts which I countered by flipping my fly rod over and reeling with my right hand. I soon realized I wasn't gaining any ground, discovering I was actually panning line out to him by reeling this way. I changed the direction of my reeling and brought him toward me ever so slowly. Throughout this process my unseen quarry continued making run after run forcing me to rethink my tactics. I flipped my rod back over and held pressure on the fish using my good arm, anytime he would let up I would quickly switch to my bad wing, bracing the rod with my elbow and quickly reeling in as much line as possible. Once he began resisting I would again switch back to my left arm to continue the fight. This circus went on for several minutes until this hard fighting rainbow finally began to give up. As I brought the fish to hand I was delighted to see one of the most colorful rainbows I have ever caught, and while not the biggest at around 17" it was one of the hardest fighting trout I have ever caught. After snapping a quick picture I began casting again and after a few minutes heard Richard bellowing and carrying on again. Hoping the wily bull had not flown the coop again my fears were realized when I heard Amy yelling my name at the top of her lungs. As I emerged from the river I was amused to see Amy on the mule chasing around our herd sire in hopes he would return to pasture. As she was doing this she informed me that there was someone here to talk to me, and to my chagrin it was a longbearded Ozarkian deer hunter looking for his deer stand that he believed I had stolen. I did in fact have this deer stand but it was given to me by my neighbor who had found it on his property. Needing another stand, I had promptly put this one up along a deer trail I felt looked promising. While this man was chasing me wondering about his stand, I was chasing Richard who by now was chasing the dogs who were also being chased by Amy, it looked like my fishing might be over. I sent this man to the neighbors house, as he still believed he had permission to hunt there, and I assured him when he returned I would take him to get his stand. While he was gone Amy and I attempted to coax Richard back into his pasture, which I doubt would have held this Edwin Moses of the bovine world anyway. Richard continued to get more upset, and this normally gentle Dexter bull quickly took on the persona of legendary bucking bull Red Rock. As we discussed our next course of action, ZZ Top in camo returned for his deer stand and confessed that while he was given permission to hunt the neighbors land years ago, he had not been back in contact and assumed this was a lifetime deal, which it was not. After delivering some firewood to some nice ladies in the riverhouse I took this man to get his stand and sent him on his merry way. As I headed back to deal with Red Rock I was stopped by fellow fly fisherman Steve Farr who generously handed me a much needed adult beverage. After consuming this tasty brown ale I concluded that Richard would probably be okay enjoying a night of freedom either staying close to the barn, or heading up to be near his ladies on top of the hill. This morning Amy found Richard up by the mailbox and was able to reunite him with his beloved herd of Dexter cows. I thought this time of year was supposed to be relaxing.

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