Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wind, Water and Weariness......Day Three

The night before we stayed up until 2AM or so, tying flies, eating pasta and meat sauce, and drinking beer. We got up at 6AM and headed on up to the Missouri, a three hour drive, for what we hoped would be two days of drifting and catching its wild, strong rainbows and browns.

We put in at the Wolf Creek Bridge launch site and because the river was high and flowing fast, our take out would be Mid-Canyon Rec Area - a 13 mile float. It was about 11AM, and a good breeze was already blowing downriver. The day was hot with the bright sun making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Standard conditions more often than not on this big river. The high flows though were a first for me here, 11,500 CFS, about twice the highest I'd seen it on any prior trips here, and much higher than the ideal flow of 3,500 to 4,500 CFS. That's fishing.

We set off with high hopes and the will to make the most of the day. Here's the river early on in the float. It's big water under normal conditions, but on this day it was huge water. Bank to bank full and flowing strong and hard.

So, without getting into the boring details, we got our asses kicked by the wind and the water. We got blown all over the river - 40-50 mile an hour wind gusts. Our anchors didn't hold more than half the time so it was a long boat ride. We had two boats; one with myself, Steve and Don niether of whom had experience with a drift boat, and the other with Paul and Joe.

We got two fish, both browns on nymphs. I rowed my ass off all day just to keep the boat from getting capsized, but I can't say I didn't have fun. It was a beautiful day and we had some good banter going all day - politics, fly fishing, women, work, etc. - and lots of food and water. The scenery is always fascinating, too. I will tell you my body was toast when we pulled up to the take out 8 hours later. Its a hell of a workout rowing in heavy water and wind, and yanking the anchor rope everytime you have to bring it up. (If you're not familiar with a driftboat, they are set up so the rower also has full control of the anchor, so the others couldn't help.) No complaints by me though, I love a good workout, and any day on a river is a good day.

Here's a pic of a railroad tunnel through a mountain at the head of the canyon stretch.

It was a heck of a long day, but we ended it by going to a great steak place and chowing down and drinking some seriously good local micro brew. We spent the night at Phil Camera's lodge (the expert at tying with synthetic materials and the inventor of larva lace). The next day, the wind was blowing up to 60 miles per hour early on, so we bagged fishing the Missouri and headed down to the Madison River for day four.

Life is good. If one river isn't fishing well, find another.

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