I drifted the McKenzie today – Deerhorn Landing to Hendricks Bridge. Swarms and swarms of black caddis everywhere. Lots of March browns. Tim at the Caddis Fly told me fish had been popping in the afternoons for the last several days. And me being an idiot on the river. This was the first drift of 2018, so maybe I was just too excited for my own good. Here’s my list of goofs from today:
- I decided not to bring my waders. I wasn’t planning on wading since my friend and first-time floater, Jim, didn’t have any. A little voice was telling me that they might come in handy but I leave them in the car, anyway. Forgetting – of course – that I keep my flotant, my two best fly boxes, and hemostats in my wader pocket. I realized it about 10 minutes down river…doh. So much for the dry dropper combo I was hoping to fish.
- This being the first drift of the year I had put my boat in order and untangled my anchor rope. This resulted in the very tame coils of rope slipping right out of the pulleys and into the river after I had anchored us because I didn’t secure the rope in the cleat. I look down, see no anchor rope at all, and look behind us to see the rope floating about 20 feet upstream. I huff and puff to row us up river to get the rope. As I’m pulling the rope into the boat I lose my balance and fall backwards into the center of the boat, feet up in the air, flat on my back. Right in front of Jim.
- I chose to go down a braid of river and it turns out the the riffle is too shallow. Not drift boat shallow where you can scrape along, but like one inch of water. We get stuck, and neither of us is wearing waders. We both hop out and wet pants and shoes for first timer Jim as we drag the boat down because the captain made a bad choice.
- As we get off the shallow riffle I hop into the boat and get into the rowers seat as fast as I can, but I’m in a rush because I see we’re headed for the far bank with some branches hanging over the river. I slip and fall in front of the seat, this time landing on and breaking my Echo Carbon XL 5 weight. Right then I figured Jim was thinking he might not make it to the take-out alive.
- I couldn’t figure out how to get Jim to connect to a fish. We swung wet flies throughout the drift, and I kept catching them. This was Jim’s first time fly fishing and so I was doing my best to get him at least a solid hookup. I gave him my best fly, adjusted his setup, paddled the boat to swing his line through good water. None of it worked. Jim has fished a lot in his life, however, so he seemed like he had moderated expectations.
I think all of this could have been avoided if I had told myself to slow down a bit. The fishing gods don’t appreciate me rushing around, urgently scrambling to get to the fish. Next time I’m going to go for my zen place before I even start the car.