Tuesday, March 2, 2010

River Rodents and New Ventures!

It was another gorgeous Saturday this past weekend to get out and fish the Missouri River. I stopped in Headhunters fly shop in Craig to get the latest news about the river, and to get any ideas of where to head out. This time, I was able to meet fly fishing guide John Arnold, the other half of ownership to Headhunters. John was kind enough to point me in a direction I have never fished from shore on the river before. Though I am sure this location is no secret to the locals, I will respectfully decline to expose it's whereabouts. To me, this area has some very special things going on within the braided system of islands and side channels. The entire structure of some of these channels take on the appearance of small creek or stream water appeal. Classic riffles, seams, back eddies, and slight undercut banks make this water very appealing to any fly fishing enthusiast!

I hadn't even been on the water for 10 minutes head hunting the banks when I came across a serious midge hatch on a bank side log. It was caked with the tiny mosquito like insects, ranging from 22 to 26 in size.

I scanned the bank carefully up ahead hoping to see some sipping brutes just feet from the bank. Not this time. The river was stunning as the sun's rays sparkled upon the surface. I wouldn't place any bets I'd see any risers with the sunny conditions, so I decided to fish with a pink firebead sowbug in some nice medium paced water at the convergence of an island seam created by the main river and a smaller side channel. I was bound to get a fish! I worked the seam, stepping slowly upriver, covering as much water as possible. 15 minutes passed, 30 minutes, 45, an hour. Nothing, not even a bump of any sort. My feet were getting a bit chilly so I decided to take my boots and waders off to warm them back up in the sun. As I laid on the bank, a pesky river rat of sorts, otter or muskrat, decided to play a little joke on me. I heard a few splashes thinking it was a big brown sipping some top-water morsels, yet I was only disappointed to see the over-sized rodent duck his head below the surface. I let him do his thing, not thinking much of it. After 15-20 minutes, I slid on my waders, tightened on my wading boots and was ready to fish the afternoon away. As I reeled in the 15 feet of fly line I had left dangling just off the bank, I noticed it was now split in two. HUGE MISTAKE! That damn pesky varmint had straight up chewed right through my fly line, and taken a good 4-5 feet of it down into his bank-side dwelling! I was furious! Only the river heard the obscenities that flew out of my mouth like bats outta hell! And if that river could talk, I'm sure it would ban me from ever returning! My temper got the best of me as I caught myself relentlessly kicking in the pests front door. "That'll teach you a @#$ damn lesson!" is all I remember muttering. I apologized to God for cursing his name, learned a valuable lesson about fly lines and river rodents, and decided to head back to Craig to get my hands on a new line.

I brought my reel and line into the fly shop to explain my misfortune, and the response was that of disbelief. Apparently I have been the first fly fisher to have been duped by a cunning river rat! After a few laughs, John was able to match my rod and reel with the exact line, only used. It looked liked it has been used once or twice, no more older looking that brand new fly line. He was more than happy to lend a fellow fly fisherman a hand and gave it to me at no charge. We then talked about fly rods, switch and spey in particular and the lines and reels that accompany them. We then began talking about my profession as a graphic designer and the help he would need with the Headhunters logo, t-shirts and signs. He offered to help me out with some spey casting lessons and I offered to work on the various projects he would need help with. An hour or so passed and I decided to call it a day as it was nearing 4:30. Even though I hadn't been so successful on the river that day, I was able to come out the whole situation with a feeling a victory! I appreciate the fly line and the opportunity John had presented me with. If it hadn't been for that muskrat, I'm almost certain that I wouldn't have made back into the fly shop to talk "business" with John. So I will end this post with a new found respect for river rodents, raise my glass and say cheers to the wonderful world of fly fishing!Look closely and you will see the perpetrator leisurely swimming in the current.


  1. Ok...I can only imagine how tee'd off you were,
    but dude, that is hilarious.

    HA! What a story that will make years down the
    road...."I remember, back in 20-10..."

    At least you got some work out of the whole
    ordeal (as a freelance designer after-hours,
    I can relate).

    Once again, great read!

  2. CA,

    Like I said, only that rivers know how pissed I was at that moment! I'm sure it will be a story told to the future kids at some point, haha!

    I appreciate your time taken to enjoy the writing!

    ...and yes, freelance work is always great!