Archive for January, 2010

“Super Bow”

June 4, 1964

I adjusted my wader suspenders and looked back at my truck, trying to remember if I had locked it earlier. Pretty sure that I had, I slipped into my vest and picked up my rigged bamboo stick, a 9’ Dry Fly Special by the Detroit rod maker, Paul Young. It was set up with my Pflueger Medalist reel and an old, level fly line I had oil-dressed lightly before leaving home. My intrepid companion, a black Lab named Bozo, sat squirming nearby, his actions urging me to hurry.

Our short hike through the small stand of Ponderosa pine was one we had made many times. We were headed for what had become my favorite section of the upper Williamson River several miles north of Chiloquin, Oregon. When we reached the lush, grassy banks of the river, the sun was just coming up, but not yet dancing on the river. My timing was good. Or, was it? I was there to hopefully be a part of the upper Williamson’s famed Black Drake spinner fall, but I saw no evidence of that activity. In fact, I saw no flying bugs or rising fish at all. Even Bozo scanned the air for signs of insects, but saw none.

Bozo Thinking?

Discouraged, I secured a #12 Renegade to my leader and stepped into the clear waters of the Williamson. Following a couple of false casts, I dropped the dry fly near the opposite bank at the beginning of a bubbling eddy. The fly swirled around and set out on its float along the foamy track, while I mended line quickly to offset drag. The fly bobbed along proudly, sitting high in the surface tension There were no takers. I had hooked a number of chubby rainbows at that particular spot in the past, so I picked up and false-casted briefly and, once again, presented the fly at the vortex’s beginning. Just as the Renegade found the surface this time, I saw the silvery flash well below the fly. Rejection! Bozo glared at me, making it worse.

I hadn’t seen the fish well, but the flash made me think I should give him another try at the Renegade. After a half-dozen more attempts through the frothy run, I stepped out of the river and sat on the grass. I needed time to think. Bozo sat down beside me, possibly deep in thought, too.

I closed my eyes and relived a spinner fall I had experienced on this very date the year before. It was madness! Do you remember the “I Love Lucy” television show episode when Lucy and her girl-pal Ethel Mertz get jobs packing chocolates in the candy factory? The chocolates are coming down the conveyor belt faster and faster, overwhelming the girls. Funny stuff, and that’s the way it had been on June 4, 1963!

Like chocolates speeding down a conveyor belt, it was hard trying to keep up with the Black Drake spinner fall that memorable day. The fall lasted for more than hour. Wading in only two feet of the river, the colorful red sides were unaware of me, often sucking in a dying spinner just inches from my legs. I lost count of the number of rainbows hooked, landed and released in that 70 or so minutes of chaos. I fished like I never fished before or since, trembling with excitement, while Bozo cheered and danced on the grassy streamside.

But, today, just one year later was to be different. Fascinating, but different.

The Black Drake adults never showed up. I returned to the river and tried the Renegade again. I landed and released four ‘bows in the next couple of hours. None were notable, and Bozo was not impressed. Then, to end my morning, I hooked up with a sizeable fish.

He was not happy with his predicament. He rolled twice on the surface and sped away downstream, me and Bozo in pursuit. As he gained line, I left the river, finding my chase easier on terra firma. He found a deep section in the river near the far bank and, shaking his head, he bore to the bottom of the hole. I had seen the unmistakable red stripe along his chunky body when he rolled, but he was acting like his cousin, the German brown. He fought me for 10 long minutes in that deep water, letting me know of his displeasure. I loved him, nicknaming him “Super Bow” as I struggled with him.

Finally, after a total of about 20 minutes, I slid my hand net under him. I left him in the net in the river as I carefully removed the fly from his jaw. He was beautiful. He was not the largest rainbow I had ever landed, but he was the prettiest. He was about 24 inches long, with a bright red band down his plumpish body. He had obviously never missed a meal. He was what I would call an athlete….and a good old boy.

“I should take you home and eat you, Super Bow,” I said out loud. I was only kidding, but as I slipped my hand under his ample belly to release him, he looked up – and I swear – he smiled at me! I chuckled and lowered the net in the river, letting him slip back into his precious habitat.

Bozo and I walked slowly back to the truck. We were happy. We never saw one darned Black Drake, but we had shared something kind of special that day.


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