Tag Archives: Fishing

THE SAGA CONTINUES AND…..CONCLUDES….COINCIDENCE?

The phone was lost on Friday; we bought a new one on Sunday afternoon; and by Wednesday we had put the whole experience behind us and were happily exploring Boysen Reservoir. This reservoir stretches in a north-south direction between Shoshoni on the south end and Thermopolis on the north end with the spectacular Wind River Canyon joining them. Mike wanted to see as much of the reservoir as was possible, the roads around it, and any potential camping spots we might be able to pull our fifth wheel trailer into.

We started on the west side of the reservoir, heading in the direction of Lake Cameahwait which is very close to Boysen reservoir…you can see the reservoir when you drive into the lake. This time though, instead of turning right onto the road to Cameahwait we went straight…the road was paved for a lot of the way but eventually turned into a well graded gravel road. We stopped often and turned into every side road we saw to explore….beautiful and remote-feeling.

Eventually the gravel road (turned out it was a loop road) became pavement again. Continuing along, we drove directly past the spot where we had gone fishing and kayaking exactly 7 days prior! No sooner had we passed “THE SPOT” and noted the absence of the fishermen and their fifth wheel trailers, than my phone, the new one that is, started to ring. It was a woman asking to speak to “Michael.” I put it on speaker and it turned out to be “Heather” calling from the Verizon store in Thermopolis to tell us that she had our phone!!!! We were gob-smacked….astounded….amazed…..couldn’t believe it…..asking each other “Now What?” COINCIDENCE? I always have believed there are no coincidences but this???? Hearing it had been found when we were in almost exactly the same spot we’d lost it???

At that point, we were near the south end of the reservoir, heading around to the east side where there are a lot more campgrounds to check out. We were already half way to Thermopolis so we headed directly there, deciding to investigate all the campgrounds on the return trip.

Arriving in Thermopolis, we located the Verizon store and met Heather who turned the phone over to us. Oh how we wished that phone could talk!!! She told us that the phone had been turned in by their ‘mail lady’ whose husband had found it floating not in Lake Cameahwait but at “Tough Creek” (Boysen Reservoir). Floating….probably it had been; close….but not where we’d been fishing and kayaking. It had been turned in a few days prior and Heather said she’d kept waiting for someone to call for it. We’d checked Shoshoni, Riverton, and Lander but hadn’t considered Thermopolis! She’d finally looked up the ID# on the back of the phone and had seen it belonged to us and called us. All the way back, we conjectured about what had happened because the facts didn’t match but finally, knowing we’d never get an answer, we stopped “scenario-izing” and simply were grateful for getting the phone back. That gratitude was amplified tenfold when we were informed by Heather that we would be able to return the new iPhone we’d purchased.

A huge thank-you goes out to the Verizon staff in Riverton, Lander and Thermololis who were so helpful; to Verizon, the company; to the fisherman who found the phone and to his wife who returned it to the Verizon store!

LAKE CAMEAHWAIT SAGA – the best of days; the worst of days!

The BEST part of the day was kayaking around Lake Cameahwait (also called Bass Lake by the locals), a 55 mile drive on HWY 26/789 from Lander towards Shoshoni. It was hot and sunny – thankfully we had left Lander early in the morning around 715, arriving at the lake by 830.

The drive to the lake provided beautiful views of grass covered hills, free-ranging cattle and antelope with mountains forming the background. The road was paved and mostly straight until just before the lake.

I was out on the lake by 830. I circumnavigated it in a very leisurely manner, pausing often to snap pics of birds, dragonflies, bullrushes, and a white, fragile-looking feather floating in the water which captured my imagination.

As I paddled, I enjoyed the many views of the lake from the water.

Fishermen camping and site of shaded picnic area.

Along the way I was startled several times by a wild thrashing in the water nearby. There are a lot of wide mouth bass in this lake (hence the name Bass Lake) and apparently they sometimes school up to chase prey into the the shallows. When it gets warm they get aggressive, the biologist I was about to meet, informed me….

Arriving back at my starting point, I checked out the time to see if Michael and his Dad might be heading back for lunch. Earlier I had taken off my PFD (to apply sunscreen) and, enjoying the resultant freedom and greater air circulation, stuffed it under the elastic straps criss-crossing the bow of my kayak. I like to have my iPhone, keys and camera with me when I’m out on the water. I keep my camera in a waterproof box velcro-ed onto the surface of the kayak right in front of the cockpit within easy reach. (I have been known to stuff it down my front for faster picture snapping.)

I keep my iPhone in a plastic dry-bag made specifically for that purpose and store it in a pocket in my PFD where I can get to it quickly. I keep my keys in another pocket. Why all the detail about where I keep my “stuff” you are probably asking? Well, as you shall see, the plot thickens.

As I was bobbing peacefully in my kayak, a few meters from where I had originally started, I reached into my PFD to get my iPhone to check the time. It was almost 11 am. As I looked up to search the lake for Mike and Marvin, I saw them a little ways off. Mike gestured towards the shore signifying that it was time for a lunch break. I still had my phone in my hand and it was at that point that I lost full awareness of where my phone was. I’m guessing I stuffed it down my front and am having faint memories of thinking “I must remember it’s there otherwise it might drop out when I stand up.” (That’s happened before with my camera but thankfully, on land-I obviously I didn’t learn my lesson well enough!) I paddled towards the small sandy beach where I had ‘put in’ and ‘beached’ my boat. Clambering out, I saw a man in a red shirt with the Wyoming Game and Fish logo walk towards me. He was very pleasant, asking if I’d had a good morning paddle which started a conversation about the lake and the fish. Soon Mike and his Dad joined us in the chat until finally, hunger pangs sent us to the sheltered picnic area. I brought my keys, picked up our lunch bag from the truck and headed off, any thought of my iPhone long forgotten!

We ate lunch rapidly because of all the mosquitoes. They were TERRIBLE. At first we planned to go back out but it was so hot and we were tired. The decision was easily reached to call it a day and head for home. I gathered up our stuff and went to get my kayak ready for loading. In no time Mike had it in its rack on top of the truck, Marvin’s boat was loaded, and we were on our way, madly scratching at all the mozzie bites.

And now, the WORST part of the day started to show itself. As we were unloading Marvin’s boat back in Lander, I started digging for my keys. After pulling everything out of the tub where we keep our kayaking equipment….no keys appeared. We put everything back in its place. Then it got worse. I remembered all the pics I had taken with my camera. I had the camera but sometimes I take pics with my phone too, which made me think about my iPhone. Again….tub, purse, and bags were meticulously checked and the truck was searched….glove box, floor, crate…..no phone. We leaped back into the truck and raced the 55 miles back to the lake.

When you are in a boat on this lake, you can clearly see the road leading to the lake from many miles away. As we stopped at the boat launch, a boat was being driven at high speed towards where we were standing on the ramp. It was a fellow fisherman we’d met while we were having lunch. He and his buddies were camped at the lake in their fifth wheel trailers. He’d spotted us coming (hard to miss a bright yellow kayak perched atop a truck). Before we could even say a word, he shouted out across the water separating us that our keys were on the table but that the guy who found them AND the phone, took the phone, saying he would try to find a number to call us and would drop it off in town with the local law enforcement. We asked a few more questions but he seemed to want to go so we thanked him and headed into Riverton, thinking that must be the “town” he was referring to.

Long story short….we went to both the police and sheriff’s offices in Riverton without luck. We called and called my phone. At first, we would hear it ring 3 or 4 times before going to voice messaging but after the 6th call, no more ringing; it went straight to voice message. Whoever had it, had turned it off. We went to Verizon who listed it as “lost or stolen” which would ensure that whoever had the phone would not be able to activate it with ANY carrier. The manager there was also able to see that he had removed the sim card. With that information, Mike immediately recognized ‘the thief‘ had no intention of returning the phone. After searching on Apple’s site, Mike discovered that if we kept the phone as a device on our Apple account, no-one would be able to use that phone ever as it’s registered to us. We made the painful decision to erase all the data on the phone, changed all our passwords and accepted the fact we’d never see the phone again. Such a pity as now, an expensive piece of electronic equipment was worth nothing to anyone; even if it was sold, the unfortunate person buying it might not understand that the phone, although less than 2 years old, is virtually useless.

And so, Tilly’s “Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” ended.

The One Day Fishin’ Expedition

Note – I wrote this 8 years ago for my father… thought maybe to submit  it to a fishing magazine… but  it was lost… luckily Dad printed and saved a hard copy. 

Yesterday went fishin’ with Dad… a lifelong  fishing enthusiast/fanatic… building his own fly fishing poles and  tying every one of his own flies. He taught me how to fish when I was a mere 3 years old and to tie flies at 6. A few years ago Dad presented me with a box of flies tagged with dates, that I had tied at 4 – 6 years old. Even with that beginning, I  wish I could say I shared his dedication to fishing.

At 50 something, I am not even remotely a dedicated fisherman… picking up a fishing pole once or maybe twice a year to spend time with my Dad. I would not know the difference between a “rapalla”, “spoon” or “red devil”… that they are all fishing lures is all I can say. I know the difference between a “dry” and a “wet” fly but, other than that I would not know how to even begin to guess what kind of, color of, or size of lure or fly to tie on my line. I count on Dad for that important information.. that is until the time comes for me to change, mostly because I have “lost” the fly or lure due to a mishap like… well, read on…

When I need another fly, I rely on my time tested (but not too successful) method of looking in the box of flies and asking, “If I were a fish today what would look yummy?” It never ceases to make me chuckle … but also seldom results in the catching of a fish. Nope, fishing for me is a way to spend time with the man who did so much (and still does) for me… doing the thing he loves best. As for me I can take or leave the sport … which may explain my very low “catch rate”. I often quip to Dad and anyone else who will listen… that MY definition of a successful day fishing is one in which the fish leave me alone. I am sure I stole that line from someone…

DADFISHIN

So, the One Day Fishing Expedition story begins… 8 am and we are on the road… of course the requisite sandwiches, snacks and day ending beers are packed in the cooler. We head to the Sweetwater River, although from my parents’ house it is a fifteen minute drive to the Popo Agie River and a 30 – 40 minute drive to Louis Lake in the mountains … from either place we could jump out of the truck and in 5 minutes “drop “ a line and start fishin’… NOPE! … in my family the “DAD (and all my uncles) Way” is to have a few “SECRET” fishing spots that only privileged friends and relatives are taken to. It is to one of these spots we go today… as he and I do every year when I visit. We drive 40 miles over South Pass and then 15-20 miles on an ever-worsening dirt road to a dead end on the banks of the Sweetwater River arriving an hour and a half after our departure from home.  We don our fishing gear… hats, waders vests, creels, etc. set up our poles and then set out hiking yet another 1/2 hour up to the “secret” spot.

Finally Dad says, “You start here, I ‘m goin’ up stream a bit”… and off he plods another few hundred meters. The plan is: we will fish our way back to the truck.

As soon as Dad is out of sight I am transformed into the little kid who wants only to “catch the big one” and garner my father’s approval…but I expect that as usual I will have no better luck at this spot any more than all the other “SECRET” spots visited over the years… which means my luck is usually “NO LUCK”… translated that means that the “strike” ( where a fish tries to bite the fly) is rare and me actually hooking , fighting and landing the fish is akin to winning the lottery.

So it is with surprise that after the third or fourth cast I watch a fish dart out from under the bank and “strike” my fly… so unprepared for that rare event I react too slowly and the fish returns to his repose under the bank (after figuring out that what he was biting was not healthy for him). He learned quicker than I, and would not rise to my  repeated offers of the same fly… and so it went from there…

For the next hour and a half I spent 2/3’s of my time engaged in my “favorite” fishing activity… disentangling my line and fly from various trees, bushes, underwater snags and rocks that have been unfortunate enough to be near me and my casts. Usually I lose 2 or 3 of dad’s flies every time we fish… and I end up feeling like I did as a kid… hopeless, helpless and raging with embarrassment. No wonder dad ties flies all winter long… building up stock for me to lose. I vow “TODAY I may not catch a fish BUT, I will NOT lose a fly!” I carefully sort out the snags, wade the river back and forth to recover the fly, time and time again.

At least Dad is upstream far enough so as not to see my antics… UNTIL a particularly MEAN and NASTY willow bush grabs up my line. Dad comes around the river bend as I am peering to see where my fine monofilament line is going in the bush. From the other side of the river he yells, “HERE, USE THIS” and tosses something across to my side of the river. It is a gadget that he has made that attaches to the end of a fishing pole with a large triple hook attached to some heavy nylon string… it looks like a grappling hook… AHA! I put the device on the pole … grapple the  branch …use the nylon line to pull it down … untangle the fly line and fly. “NEAT device”… worked like a charm”, I yell. But, dad has moved downstream ahead of me. I admire his ingenuity… and suddenly realize that in all the (50 some) years I have gone fishing with Dad, he has always had the tool, device, gadget to get me out of trouble every time I got in… AND not one of those things looked new or unused. In a flash of insight I realize that Dad has had to contend with all the same situations too… ONLY after years and years of practice he avoids most of the embarrassing situations without a thought… Maybe there was hope for me yet.

I had been two hours on the river and yet to lose a fly… even though a breeze was blowing (a breeze can feel like a gale when you are trying to cast a 1/4 oz fly on a hair thin monofilament line , 25 feet across a river) I seemed to be getting the fly to go where I wanted. I saw a likely looking hole near a semi submerged bush (a potential snag). “There must be a nice fish in that hole” I thought and decided to try and entice him out… the first cast hit the water perfectly upstream where I wanted and floated just in front of the snag and across the hole… WOW!… second cast and again the cast hit the water perfectly upstream and floated just in front of the snag and across the hole… DOUBLE WOW!… a third cast … the same. Maybe there wasn’t a fish in that hole … but one more cast … just to make sure. I was feeling smug.  As I wound up for the cast, dad rounded the corner … I let loose and ZAP… snagged! My face flushing with embarrassment, anger and frustration, I cussed as I waded the river once more. The fly was snagged under the bush so I delicately balanced and reached under, using the line to guide my hand to the fly… and the line broke. MY first fly of the day LOST! … SH…ugar! Thankfully Dad had, by then, moved on.

I sat down and used my time honored/not too successful fly selection method… “WHAT looks YUMMY?”… The new fly performed as usual as an hour passed without a nibble… I decided to select another tempting treat from the box of flies. Dad once again emerged from around the bend… so I asked what he would try… “This one”, he said and moved on.

30 minutes passed and having once again leap-frogged dad, I spied a snag and a hole right behind it… I could almost imagine a neon arrow point to the hole flashing “FISH…FISH…FISH” . I set up and casted between the snag and the hole… the fly landed perfectly, drifted to the hole … SURE ENOUGH.. a medium sized brown trout darted out and hit the fly… I jerked the pole to set the fly and the line flopped back to me… without the trout or the FLY!

DOUBLE SH…ugar!

The fish was still there … I  could see  him under the bank… I glanced around … dad was still up river… I quickly opened the fly box, selected the most “YUMMY” fly, quickly tied it on and got ready to cast, when dad poped around the corner, again.

“Any luck?” he asked. “We’ll see”, I replied. I cast in front of the hole… nothing …I cast again… nothing… Dad moved behind me … a third cast and the trout hit the fly…  BUT this time, I was ready… a flick of the wrist and the hook was set.

For the next few minutes the trout and I fought it out as dad watched… I slowly worked the fish to the bank, to my hand, unhooked and released the trout back to his lair. Dad had already caught more than enough fish for a nice dinner. No need to keep this fish.

Dad said, “Well done.” … I grinned and replied, “You know what I have just done don’t you?”

Dad looked puzzled and I added, “ I have just ruined my “successful” day fishing.” We both laughed…

The rest of the way back to the truck was devoid of any strikes or catches and soon we were sitting on the tailgate of the truck sipping beer, munching potato chips, eating our sandwiches and laughing about this day, other days and memories of past fishing trips.

As we departed  the river on our way home, I was feeling satisfied, contented…

As I said earlier… for me, fishing has never been about catching a fish … it is about the best catch of all … a day spent with my DAD.