The steelhead season opened on October 16, so since closing out the trout season on the 31st I've been looking for a chance to get on the river. Today looked real good. It was a little warmer than the past few days, and the sun had broken free of the persistent overcast. Maybe not ideal for the steelhead, but pretty nice for the fisherman.
So I cleaned off the fly patch on my vest, switched over the rods and fly boxes, and headed out. I decided to go see how my old stomping grounds by the bridge was looking. It was looking good.
Well, it was pretty anyway, but the flow was a little fast and high. I tried to wade in under that bright yellow tree, but over the past few years the river has eaten away the bank and deepened that hole, so I gave up until the water gets skinnier.
I waded in upstream of the run and made my way out to mid-river where I could work the run over pretty good. There were some little fish--probably smallies--nipping at the fly's heels on every other swing, but otherwise no action.
So here's the thing. The air was warm, but the river was cold. And I worked the run twice over with two different flies. So my feet got a little numb, and my muscles stiffened up a bit. But of course I never know that until I try to wade after already standing there too long.
My options were to wade on across--something I've done many times--or wade back out. But the water where I was standing, which is usually barely knee-high, was lapping fairly close to my wader belt. And there's a hole at the other side that's usually waist deep, so today that would make it--well, you can do the math.
So I decided to wade out the way I had waded in. All well and good, but there's another thing: wading into the river you're quartering with the current, and wading out of the river you're quartering against the current.
But I did it. I stumbled, and I was slow, but I made it out of the main current safe and sound. Now, just two or three long strides and I'm out.
Yeah, that's when you commit yourself to that big step and your foot comes up against that big rock that you didn't see for some reason, and you do that swan dive straight into the current, and you flounder around trying to get your feet under you as the river keeps trying to push them out behind you, and all the time the water is rushing into your waders through your open collar.
But you know, I got up before everything in my wallet was soaked. My camera is waterproof, and my cell phone (why did I have my cell phone on me?) was tucked into an inside pocket and stayed dry. My left hand came down on the rocks to take the weight of the fall, but I didn't injure myself. And I kept my right hand high, so the rod suffered no damage. Not bad.
Some of us like to think that even when we fall, we do so gracefully.
Oh well. Good to get that over with on the first trip before it gets really cold and a dunking would be life-threatening.
I can hope anyway.