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Fish Tales #2: a pleasant afternoon floating the river

Back then, I fly fished the section of The River above the escarpment every chance I got. We called it The Brook Trout Water, because there were no browns above the falls. Early in the season when the Hendricksons were coming off, I’d park by the highway late morning, and walk the railway tracks down to where the stream flowed close to the tracks, wet wading and fishing my way back to the car. By the time I reached my fave stretches, the bugs were emerging and the trout were on them.

For a stream that close to the city, it was mighty fine, helped out by special regulations to keep the the bait plonkers out. The brookies were plentiful. They averaged 8 or 9 inches but bigger trout were not uncommon. Every once in a while I’d catch a brookie of unexpected size. A lunker. People have told me it’s not so great anymore, but I really can’t say. I hardly chase trout at all these days.

One afternoon, just as the bugs started coming off the water, I heard banging and clanging upstream. This was most unusual. In fact, most days I had much of the water to myself. When other anglers were on that stretch, it was usually because the Other River was blown out and guys were looking for a place to cast to some trout. Finally, I saw the source of the noise. Two guys were wading downstream toward me, pulling a 14 foot aluminum car-top boat behind them.

So much for a fine afternoon of fishing. These characters were sure to spook the trout all the way down to the falls. I took a deep breath, determined to be polite. Hi, I said.

Hi! How’s the fishin’?
Well, it WAS pretty good. What are you guys up to with that boat?
We’re floating down to the lake.
We’re floating down to the lake.
I see. You guys know about the escarpment, right?
What do you mean?
The falls.
The falls?
Yeah, the falls.
We didn’t know there was a falls. I guess we’ll have to drag the boat around it.
Yeah, well, it’s not so easy. I think you’re going to have a problem.
Oh, we’ll manage!
If you do get your boat down below the falls in one piece, you’ll be facing a long stretch of pocket water. It’s fast, with lots of boulders. Tricky to wade, even when you’re not dragging a boat.

It was clear they didn’t believe a word I was saying. I wished them luck, and started looking for a comfortable spot to have lunch. Off they went, their boat banging against rocks along the way. I’ve often wondered what happened to them.

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