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- Category Hunting Stories
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- Prostaff Member Trout Whisperer
I'm under the bridge. Nobody gets to this terminal hole sooner then me on the days I fish it. It's the only spot worth fishing. So to try and crowd the short downstream run or perch in the rock wall above I do not bother. When guys hook up on fish above me it gets dangerous. I love catching fish as much as the next guy but Im not going to fall off a rock ledge for any steelhead.
The water is waist deep and my chest waders are insulated. It's snowing and then sleet and then rain and then all three or a mix of two. The flakes when falling are heavy wet and about the size of a nickel. You can't look up for long because they hit your eyes and make you blink. It's easier to shroud my face with the hood of my parka.
I have been here today since well before sun-up. Protecting my spot in anticipation of legal fishing time. Over the past several hours guys have come and gone asked how I was doing and some were pretty ticked that I got the hot spot, so they just left.
Down below inside, the wind cannot get directly at you. The river walls Im encased in have a ceiling that acts as a bridge for the highway traffic. Now the guy with a dark heavy beard whose been fishing next to me for quite some time is getting to close for my comfort. I think he's trying to hot hole me. So I turn and face him as I try to tie on a new spawn fly. I want to stop him from coming closer.
His droopy hood is on like mine but larger. He is very dark complected and has massive dark sunglasses. He's not getting my subtle, stay away from me composure. He did not walk towards me in the river but strode unencumbered. I get a chill and he reminds me of the grim reaper I swear.
He asks me now, only inches awayâ why, if I'm shaking so bad, I do not take a break from the cold water and warm up out of the riverâ. His voice is gravely and probably due to the cigar he's smoking or chewing on and it adds to my nervousness about him. He spits the stub of one and lights a fresh one. Why is he talking to me and not one of the other four guys fishing here?
With as much moxie as I can muster I reply in his face that I get buck fever, duck fever, and trout trauma second to no one. I'm not cold Im excited. He blows cigar smoke off a red tipped stogie and then offers, he can help me.
My mind knows this is Lucifer himself.
He tells me to open my mouth, but shut up. Now I spent twenty plus years with the United States military in some form or another. It felt like the guy was giving me an order not making a request. Training took over and I obeyed.
With my mouth agape for more than one reason he plucks from his mouth that cigar and before I knew what hit me he stuffed it in my yapper and said, close your mouth, nowâ.
Continuing, he speaks to me, you have a real nice rod swing on the river. I have been watching you for over an hour. I figured if you quit shaking for five minutes you may even hook a fishâ.
I'm choking on my own smoke and Im an ex-cigarette smoker. He must sense that instantly and he replies,â if you time the river to a good cigar it will calm you downâ. I'm now supposed to, not get the cigar to hot, but don't let it go out either. Just breathe and chew on it. Just sweep the river with your fly and feel for the strike. Try itâ, he sez. Inhaling, up to youâ as he turns and walks away. Who was that kook I think. But I keep puffin, and up the bank he went.
Now from an old cigarette smoker, smoking cigs, I can tell you, youre not missing anything. But that cigar hooked me for the rest of my life. I did not get a fish that morning. But every spring and sometimes in the right deer shack I have a hard time not puffing on the rolled leaves of tobacco. Sometime each summer usually about the time my lungs can't take any more I give them a rest. So now, in the next few days I will wrestle with the devil, trying to quit those cigars.