Smith River? For decades through the '50's and '60's Field and Stream magazine published it's annual fishing records, and the Smith would sweep the Chinook fly rod category, with repeating
names, year after year, all fish over 50 lbs.. This was an in-bred, tight clique of serious fishermen with a long history both on the river and in print.
Could I get free? It was impossible, my work schedule booked. But this was serious chinook fishing, a different, specialized game I had never done before.
"I'll be there".
What did I need?
"A 9 or 10 wt rod, sinking lines or heads from intermediate to lead core, and a pram with two anchors. I've got the flies if you don't mind using mine. Bring some stuff for lunches, and a pee
The next day I stopped by the fly shop and bought, among other things, a Hi-D shooting head. Borrowing a pram from a friend, I was on the road by 7 PM and knocked on the motel north of Crescent City where Don was staying at midnight.
"Shhhhhhh....", Don whispered. "I don't want the others to know we're awake." The room was dark and it rapidly became obvious he was NOT going to turn on the light. He switched on a flashlight and cupped his hand over the beam to cast a faint glow.
"Let's get what gear you need to rig and your sleeping bag, but don't make any noise."
Don followed me with the flashlight. We eased open doors, got the bag of lines and my reel, and latched them closed again with a silent push. Back in the room, I rigged my shooting head in the glow of the flashlight. It seemed a bit long as I wound it onto the reel.
"SSHHHHH!, Don repeated. The click of the reel was too loud.
"A lot of the guys who are going to be fishing the hole tomorrow are staying at this motel. We don't want them to know what we are doing."
I have learned to humor Don's eccentricities, both because he means absolutely nothing by it, and because it gets even funnier if you let him go on. Don compensates for his fishing weaknesses
in other, sometimes strange, ways.
"We want to be the first ones on the water in the morning", he explained.
It seemed as though Don was shaking me the minute my head hit the pillow.
"Shhhhhhhh, we want to get out of here without anyone knowing."
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