Author: Bach, Gene

Testing the Waters

I went fishing yesterday. Did pretty well too; but that wasn't the real highlight of the day. What tickled my fancy was the way my partner tested out the water to see what it's temperature was.

Tim, the guy who headed up the Arizona javalina hunting trip I recently went on, wanted to learn how to fly fish. When we stopped at Cabela's, and Bass Pro Shops during the pig hunting adventure, he bought a fly rod, a reel, and an extra spool. Monday he went up to Sportsmans Warehouse in Medford and had the reels outfitted with line. He asked me if I would show him how to use all his new equipment and I agreed to meet him at the local city lake to help him out...
Now, before I get too carried away with the actual fishing trip, let me back up a bit to our stops and the big stores where Tim bought his gear. For many years my wife has laughed at me about getting excited over new toys, or adventures. I, like most men I suppose, love to try out new things or go to new places. I talk a lot about the features of a new rod or reel, or all the things I intend to do when I go somewhere, but I am here to tell you: when it comes to acting like a kid at Christmas over new gear, compared to Tim I'm a piker. Holy cow, I have no idea how many questions I answered about fly fishing on that pig trip...must have numbered in the millions. He would even stop me while we were in the desert hunting and ask me questions. Sometimes I fully expected him to start jumping up and down and drool out of both sides of his mouth because he simply couldn't wait to use his new outfit.

Anyway, we met here in Yreka at Lower Greenhorn Park (a fittingly named area for his first outing), put his rod and reel together, and walked over to a large grassy area. I stripped out some line and began instructing him in how to use everything to cast the line. It all seems complicated when you're looking at it on TV, or in the movies, and it doesn't get any better the first time you have a rod in your hands. In all honesty though, the whole process is timing oriented, and once you get the timing down, the rest is easy. We worked over on the grass for awhile and then it was time to get out into the water to really try it all out...hopefully ending up with a trout attached to the end of his fly line.

We were going to be fishing from float tubes. These are devices that enable you to float around in the water using flippers on your feet in order to propel you to wherever you want to go. My tube is a newer model, and only the section of my legs from the knees down is ever in the water. The tube I had for Tim was an older model and he was in the water from his butt down. Keep in mind that we were wearing insulated neoprene waders with plenty of warm clothes on under those, so we were neither wet, nor freezing. At least not at first.

No matter how many warm clothes you have on when you first get into the water, you WILL eventually get cold. It's usually your feet that fail you first, and there's not much worse than really, really cold toes. Another thing that can get to you is the need to pee. Guess what makes that happen quicker. Yep, cold feet. Additionally, the amount of coffee you drink before getting into the water is directly proportional to how bad you will have to pee once you get cold.

Tim drank a lot of coffee before he got into the water.

After we got out away from shore, we spent some time going over casting from the tube. It's a bit harder than casting from shore, but nothing that you can't overcome with a little practice. The easiest way to find the fish is to get the fly out behind you and then simply paddle around while trolling the fly behind the tube. It's the way you find the fish in any lake, and often it works better than casting and stripping the fly back in. We paddled around right next to each other and talked. After awhile I hooked a nice fat trout of about 16 inches. I landed that one, and put it on the stringer, and we continued to fish. After that, I continued to catch fish between 14-18 inches...while Tim watched and caught nothing but an occasional weed. This is really not unusual for people fishing with me: my wife claims I can catch fish in the toilet. However, it's not exactly a confidence builder for a first timer to catch nothing while the other guy is bringing in really nice ones.

It wasn't long before Tim got cold, and the coffee started telling him it was time to exit the building, so he headed for shore to go take care of some "pressing" business. Just as he got to shore, I hooked another big fish. While I was bringing that one in, I was watching Tim to make sure he was OK. He made it to shore just fine, and he got his first flipper laden foot out of the tube just fine, but, when he tried to get the second one out the flipper caught the edge of the tube and threw him off balance. At precisely the moment I put an 18 inch trout into the net, Tim took a header into water that was probably 40 degrees or so. He was now soaked from his chest up, and out both his arms, and that did nothing to help relieve his urge to empty his bladder. I, on the other hand, was warm and dry, and had a nice fish in the net. I held it up, hoping he would turn his wet self around to see it (yes, I was trying to gig him a little) but the only thing on his mind was an overpowering need to get the the porta-pottie as quickly as possible.

If nothing else, Tim is a trooper. When he was finished onshore, he got back in his tube and paddled back out to me. Not being able to resist, I looked at him, smiled, and said, "So, was the water cold?" He assured me it was quite nippy. We fished for awhile longer, and I caught a couple more fish. Tim continued to catch nothing.

It was quite the interesting day; for me anyway. I'm not sure how interesting it was for the human ice cube, but he did say he wanted to do it again. I'll tell you what folks, there's nothing like going fishing and getting to watch a really cool show at the same time. Yep, it just doesn't get any better than that!
Posted:  2/1/2009

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