By Phillip Marlowe
A friend of mine, N
We fished the river and caught a few boring stocked rainbow trout. Stocked fish don’t really fight all that well and are pretty easy to fool. A small piece of red yarn is all it takes.
When we got to the very end to the trail, there was a fairly impressive waterfall pouring into a oddly greenish, almost Alpine blue pond. It was a misty place with fog steaming up off the cold mountain water. My buddy N
While taking a break and checking out the beautiful view, this older, pleasant White couple wearing brand new LL Bean outfits and what appeared to be the daughter came up to ask us if we would take a picture of them using their top-of-the-line camera. You could tell the girl must have been a freshman or sophomore student at the nearby university and didn’t seem all that happy having to spend time with the parents who paid the freight. The twit was probably hung-over from partying the night before and looked very sullen. She wore a tee shirt that said “PORN STAR” in big letters with a star graphic silkscreened in glitter ink. Funny how she wore that while out with her folks on a Sunday. Spoiled little tramp, I thought to myself.
After that, we bushwacked up the mountain ridge a quarter mile or so. Looking down, you could just barely make out the creek that fed the pond where little Miss Porn Star suffered with mumsy and daddy Warbucks — trying to reconnect with their recalcitrant trampy brat. The creek at this point was practically a narrow gorge and I voiced doubt to my fishing buddy about ever getting down there with breaking a leg or worse — which would be snapping your very expensive boron fly rod (which I’d done before).
My buddy insisted “C’mon man, you can do it. You’re not chicken, are you?” Famous last words between men since the beginning of human language or even when we only grunted at each other.
The slope was something like 60 degrees. We held our over-priced fly rods up under our stinky armpits, with the rods swinging behind us like whip antennas, and slid sideways down Billy Goat style, grabbing at saplings to keep ourselves from going ass over tea kettle down into the gorge. I could see the newspaper headlines now: “idiot fly fisherman plunge to grisly deaths, wives and girlfriends beset with grief.” That is, if they ever found our critter picked-over corpses, which I doubted.
Somehow we made it. And with our fly rods still intact, no less. If you break your rod, your fishing day is over. Which is why you’re there, pretty much. Like the German Wermacht soldiers used to say to captured US dog faces or the dead, “for you, the war is over.” I always thought that was cruelly poetic. Sure, you might have to resort to faggy bird watching, but catching nice fish is why you busted your lily White ass getting there!
Usually, my bud and I would take turns fishing each pool as we hopscotched up the creek, since water like this only allowed one at a time, without spooking the prey. Since I went along with the crazy idea, I got first dibs from where we came in at.
I made my way up the moss-covered boulders and fallen timber like I’ve done millions of times before. I got up to the next pool and took a moment to survey the scene and plot my strategy. I was struck immediately that it looked like a beautiful oil painting, say one by the English pastoralist John Constable or the American master of glowing glazes, Maxfield Parrish (always a big favorite).
The pool wasn’t very big, maybe 20, 25 yards across max. At the head was a boisterous little waterfall, say 3 or 4 feet wide and about the same up and down. A few yards below that was a small rocky, sandy island with a small tree that somehow managed to find purchase. It was a beautiful red Japanese maple, improbable in this environment, or maybe it was a northern sugar maple, I don’t know. Perhaps a whirlwind picked up a spore somewhere down below in the suburbs and dropped it way up here. It’s trunk was twisted and gnarled like a carefully cultivated Bonsai at a Shinto Buddhist monastery — undoubtedly from having to eke out a sorry living in a place like that. A shaft of sunlight broke through the trees, bathing the entire scene in glorious majesty.
Most pool bottoms are muddy, silty places but not this heavenly one. For some reason, the bottom was covered in a multi-colored bed of smooth quartzite gravel, casting off beams of light up through the crystal clear water, adding another insane level to the beauty. The place probably hadn’t been fished by man for years, or maybe even never. A truly virginal piece of fishing real estate. But like women, you never really know.
I can still see the place in my memory, even after fishing countless little brookie pools before and since.
After taking in the incredible beauty, I flicked my favorite general purpose Brook Trout fly (Yankee Doodle Coachman I think they call it) upstream of the little island, right in the foam at the base of the waterfall and let it curly-cue down the current. Whammo! I immediately hooked one. A hungry brookie was stationed right off the little island with the improbable Japanese maple bonsai.
After a nice little tussel (brookies fight great for such little fish), I brought him to bay. As I gently held him in my hand, I carefully removed from his mandible my special barbless fly hook I use to tie with. Like all brook trout, he or she was beautifully colored — those red circled purple spots on his flanks glowed iridescent in the shadowy sunlight. I quietly slid him back into the water.
Sayanora little guy. And thanks for getting me to come here.
I sat my White butt down on a rock, no longing caring to fish that day and forgot all about the women out there who love giving men hell over the most stupid, trivial crap, or sullen Miss Porn Star and her perplexed parents paying for her big time college education. I took out my compact binoculars and started bird watching. Most likely I took a healthy swig of bourbon from my beat-up old flask and smoked a ciggy butt or two. Maybe I could spot a red-headed woodpecker, or possibly even the fabled flying squirrel in a beautiful place like that.
Naw, that part probably isn’t true.* Knowing me, I would have fished another upstream pool, or two, or three, I’m sure.
*Fishermen are known big liars but the above is as true as I can remember it. If it was a lie, I would’ve included an encounter with a Bigfoot or at least some naked hippies tripping out on purple haze (another true story for another day). I write this here because it’s my playhouse and I can write about any damn thing that strikes my fancy or pisses me the hell off!