The theme of this weekends trip was similar to the last one. I really wanted to go explore some different waters and enjoy some new surroundings. The difference this week was that I actually assumed I might catch some fish. The universe had other plans.
I was heading to the upper reaches of one of the better know trout fisheries in the area. I had been here one time before in the spring and it was pretty productive for smaller wild trout with a few bigger ones spotted and spooked during the day. It is wonderful tenkara water with lots of beautiful riffles, runs and pools.
So I ate a pretty light breakfast, packed the days food and water and left the house full of optimism. Weather was supposed to creep up to the mid 50’s with sun shining. The plan was to park at a trailhead I knew and hike a few miles upriver fishing along the way. I was 95% certain I remembered how to get to this trail head. It was the other 5% that got me this day. First I missed the turn to go up to the trailhead and wound way up a separate dirt road. A few miles in I found a pull out to relieve myself and try to figure things out. Once out of the car I could hear running water and saw a small foot path leading into the woods. I headed down and when the stream emerged I was very impressed! It was gorgeous! Right there were several good looking runs so I decided since I’m here I might as well have a go at it. I spent 20 or 30 fishless minutes before bagging it and attempting to reach my original destination. Was glad I stopped though because I will certainly be back to dedicate more time to this little gem.
So back off I went. Now it’s creeping on noon and it had been about 5 hrs since breakfast and I was excited to get the trail head, eat my lunch and embark. I again took another wrong turn, went down a very poorly maintained dirt road for probably 10 miles before it met up with the road I actually meant to be on. Another set back but spirits were still high. I arrived finally and went to the back of my subaru crosstrek to retrieve my gear and get at my cooler. Aaaaaand no cooler. I instantly got the vision of exactly where all my food and water were. At home in the garage on the work table. This was a problem. I had to look at the situation. I am a few hours from home, many miles from any people or cell service, the weather was still in the 40’s and I had no food or water. In my younger day i’d have said fuck it and went anyways. But at 41 I opted to fish a few holes nearby then sadly bag it early and try again another day.
Towards the end of 2021 I took the nastiest spill I have ever taken in a river. Fishing alone like usual I was crossing what seemed like a decent stretch of stream to wade. About 3 quarters of the way through it started getting real sketchy. I was struggling with every foot step and finally got knocked off my feet. I landed with all my body weight on my shin against a sharp rock. Washed downstream up to my neck I was able to eventually climb back up and out. It was about 42 degrees, I was soaked and my leg felt like something was very wrong. Luckily that was the worst of it. I had to cross again to get back to the car and found another shallower spot to do so. For the first time in my fishing life I was really shook up. It took several trips to get my confidence back wading and I am now starting be a little more cautious when fishing alone. I’d rather miss a day of fishing as opposed to dying of exposure on some stream bed. My wife agrees!
The fall was also one of many catalysts that inspired me to get into better shape for spending more time off the beaten path. I competed as a super heavyweight in powerlifting for many years and ended that phase of my life in 2021. I was 365lbs when I stopped and around 340 when I took the spill. Today I am under 290lbs and dropping. Yet another thing that tenkara has done for me. Inspire me even more to get in shape. The lighter I get, the more miles I can chew up and the more I enjoy my time on the water. Being mobile and not feeling like I’d been hit by a truck at the end of a long hike is pretty damn cool.
So all in all a disappointment but not a total bust. I found a new stream and on the way out I found a much better road to get to the trail head. Better luck next time eh?