I married a great guy. He’s smart, kind, and patient with me (most of the time). He can fix almost anything and he’s athletically gifted (too much praise? Well, suck it up.) We love all of the same things – skiing, windsurfing, river trips, and even our nutso dog, Kash. Oh, and fishing, especially swinging for steelhead. Rich got us addicted to that, but let’s get back to him - he is also analytical and deliberate. Nothing is done without forethought, a plan, a map into the future. We couldn’t be more alike; and we couldn’t be more different. I’m the kind of person who is still alive by sheer tenacity and a certain amount of luck. I was not blessed with a speck of “situational awareness”. In fact, I could be the driving force behind the development of “Personal Body-Bubble-Wrap”.
For example: On one of our early spey excursions to the Klickitat, I managed to fling a weighted, leechy fly into the seat of my waders. In an attempt to free myself, I took off my waist belt and the attached wading staff. I promptly dropped those into the river, and when it dawned on me that I was beltless and staffless, I stumbled frantically after them, spey rod in hand, butt still trapped by the fly. OK, the rest is obvious. I took a late evening swim in the Klick and never came near a fish. In fact, I think I scared them all away. I can just imagine Rich upstream scratching his smart head wondering what the hell I was doing. Luckily for me, the day had just about completed its fade into dark. We hauled my soggy ass home.
I have other examples, but that should suffice. Now onto the fishing story.
After a particularly successful and totally enjoyable camp trip on The Deschutes in September, I decided I needed (well, actually wanted) a new spey rod. I plotted a way to stash pieces of money here and there so that when the right stick showed up, I’d be able to buy it. I sort of let Rich know my thoughts, but I didn’t reveal the entirety of my plan. Then the planets aligned and Rich and I borrowed some demos from our pals at The Gorge Fly Shop. And just to set the record straight, this is not an advertisement for the rod I eventually purchased.
Down to the mouth of the Hood we went. We strung up our demo Sage One (7116) Switch, the Sage One (7126) Spey, and Rich’s very own and favorite rod (a 7 weight Sage TCX) for the sake of comparison. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon. Rich was seriously fishing, and I was mostly casting. The magic hour arrived – we all recognize it – that time of day when shadows lengthen and the sun turns an easy gold.
Wired to my headphones I couldn’t hear much of anything, but I looked upriver and noticed Rich sending me some type of signal, so I pulled the plugs out of my ears. He was trying to tell me that the guy on the far bank was fighting a fish and to make myself small, as in invisible, until the fish was landed. I stopped casting so I wouldn’t ruin his fight. When things quieted down, I decided to take one last cast and make a final swing through the run with the Sage One Switch. I was already in love with the rod, but my casts come and go, so I wanted to make sure it was me that was making them go away and not the rod. Finishing off the swing, I turned to wade upstream to Rich (I was done, and I wanted to trade rods one last time) when WHAM! SLAM! Yank to the bank (that was one lesson I learned and relearned a lot of times). Off like a laser, air borne on the far side, with me reeling in for all I was worth, and then he screamed back out again. Rich slowly “raced” down to me fully confident that I could handle this wild buck on my own. I had it in, and Rich grabbed the leader, but then let it go. My reel stopped turning, the line lost pressure. I looked down. My left earphone was backstroking to the Columbia, the other was jammed deep into the running line of my reel. The fish was 5 feet away from us, then 50 feet away, then deep into its hidey hole (or wherever steelhead go to recover from an adrenaline surge). So much for the soothing effects of music. I had found yet another way to NOT land a fish.
These are the kinds of things that happen to me. This would never happen to Rich. Only me. I’ve never been a gentle learner. But I did make our local (and favorite) fly shop really happy. The very next day I plunked down my credit card and left the store with a brand spanking new Sage One Switch.
I didn’t choose the rod. It chose me. It’s the ONE. It really is.