There has always been a trail in the areas that I fish. A road to drive down, a sidewalk to ride on or at the very least a deer trail to follow is present on my cast making adventures. In this case the road turned to trail and the trail ended at the creek. The pathway vanished within the rock and thickness of the forest. Thick brush, fallen trees and large rock generally add to the scenery and ambience of the quality fishing experience but now they stood as impassable obstacles guarding several miles of creek before me.
This is an area that I had scouted a few times on foot as well as using Internet maps and G.E. But one area seemed very difficult to traverse due to the absence of “trailage” and I had only been able to explore the edges. The natural growth had taken over virtually reclaiming the area from human intrusion.
“No one in their right mind would fish this.” I said circling the area with a big red marker and scribbling the words MUST FISH.
The following Saturday I was up early, parked at the trailhead and followed the gas pipeline road down to the short trail section that followed the creek. At the end of that was a wall of branches and rock. From here I was on my own.
Once into the thick it seems like everything in nature turned against me. Even the largest of branch openings would shrink as I tried to make my way through. My gear was getting hung up no matter how careful or slowly I moved. Some areas were so dense that I simply had to plunge forward with my head down. Scratches on my hands and face will heal and hurt far less than any scratches to my gear.
“I’ll be %$%# amazed if I don’t break something on this run.”
Open areas of grass or small trails that did manage to follow the water for a short time seemed like mana from heaven. But these moments were short lived and would end in a wall of branches or steep rock soon enough. Then I would have to look for another route or battle what was in front of me. In some cases the water would be too deep or swift to wade across without some level of difficulty. In some cases the rock was slippery and perilous but the only way to move forward.
This sounds quite grueling and to be honest it was. But there were so many fishable spots to cast into. Blinded to the anguish and abusive terrain to some degree I continued to cast, explore and land a fish here or there. My mind was dead set on seeing what this final stretch was all about and reaching the area that had been trekked too on a previous trip from the other direction.
“Keep going. Just around the corner is where you stopped the last time…well maybe the bend after that.” I would say looking upstream and taking another cast. Cast, retrieve…Bam!
After several hours the fatigue started to set in. My legs grew heavier with every step. Move past another small pool only to have the rock turn underneath my right foot. Sploosh! I barely catch myself before doing a river face-plant. This may be one of the most humiliating experiences an angler can face on moving water. Even if only trees and rocks were able to laugh at me, it would still be a terrible experience. Instead I just looked like I was trying to fly for a few seconds and managed to catch myself under my feet. Two seconds later a rock rolls under my left foot and I repeat the whole ridiculous scene all over again.
This would have been a great time to take a break and catch my breath. Maybe take a sip of water and give my legs a little rest. Nope. I keep plunging forward through brush stumbling over loose rocks and dodging angry branches. The only thing that seemed to divert my attention from moving upstream was the stream itself. Take another cast into a gorgeous slice of water and get a few bumps. Sling it back just a bit deeper into the trough and wham! Another stocky brown shows up for the photo op.
Finally I do a time check, 2PM. I need to be back in the city by no later than 6PM. It is difficult for to calculate how far I have gone at this point and still need to make the 1.07 mile hike out as well as add an hour drive time. Once again reason fails me. Not only do I continue to fish but actually keep moving upstream looking for the spot that I reached on a previous trip.
“Yeah, I better turn back here…or maybe after the next bend.” My lips seemed to repeat over and over.
Finally I turned back my mind a whirl of fishing euphoria mixed with a bit of exhausted panic. A lot of tough ground had been covered up to this point. Going back would not be a leisurely stroll. It was becoming apparent why not too many people fish here and this section of water has been left to squirrels and other wildlife for the most part. Being able to look for trails rather than spots to put a cast helped somewhat. At this point I am battling for distance rather than battling the fish. Wade across, battle along a small deer trail and then wade across again to a short grassy trail and then back across again.
Finally I reach the bridge and my cell phone decides to lose signal. This phone has had a few close calls, stream dunks and lots of condensation. The battery only holds a charge for about 48 hours and soon to be placed in my growing collection of damaged electronics. No way of knowing the time I try to gauge the sunlight behind the ridgeline. More than likely I am behind schedule.
Completely exhausted, I take a small break to re-adjust the backpack, take some water and prep for the hike out. At this point my legs are on fire, my left ankle is throbbing, every bruise and scratch is starting to sing out in agony. Despite the flashing “empty” light on my body’s energy reserves, there is no other option than hiking out along the dirt road\trail to the parking area. This is a one-mile trek mostly uphill. One more sip of water and then the arduous journey out begins. By the time I reached the truck I was practically on my hands and knees. Do a quick time check at the truck with a mere 45 minutes to cross town. Arrive at the destination a few minutes late looking like hell warmed over with a side of catfight.
“What the heck happened to you!?!” the inquisition starts as I reach the door.
“Just doing a little fishing.” I say picking the pine needles out from my shirt.
My name is Matt and I'm a fishaholic.
Note: This trip was taken mid-December. Took me a while to put it all together.