Monday, September 28, 2009
Nothing (on the) New
Dear Rain Gods,
Please accept my sincerest apologies as I have obviously displeased you in some fashion. Last week you blew out the Elk River in front of my eyes and this week you soaked my meager campsite and made the New River a high, muddy mess, hostile to fish and fisherman alike. Whatever I have done, I promise to never do it again.
Your humble minion,
P.S. Any clues as to what exactly the offense was would be appreciated.
It was a brilliant plan. In anticipation of this past weekend’s Triangle Fly Fishers’ Smallmouth Fishing and Camping Extravaganza, Po’ Boy, P-Mac and I decided to get a jump on our clubmates and head towards Galax, VA a day early. We figured we could scout out the area, score the best campsites, fishing spots, “watering holes”, and generally one-up the whole bunch of them. Yeah, it was a brilliant plan, which means, of course, that it would never work.
P-Mac called the night before departure to say that Po’ Boy would not make it because of a cold. The next morning, Po’ Boy called to say P-Mac would not make the trip because of conjunctivitis. It made me wonder what affliction I was in for in the next few hours. Luckily, Po’ Boy recovered enough to come along, so we loaded the truck and hit the road.
Sadly, the fishing was entirely forgettable. A cold front had dropped the New’s water temperature about 8 degrees during mid-week, driving the smallmouths deep to recalibrate, and rain moved in, swelling and muddying the river. Over a dozen hours of fishing, throwing everything in the box, I caught only two skimpy rock bass. I guess I can't complain, though, as better fishermen than me got skunked entirely. The weather and various other conflicts also thinned the attending TFF membership and scattered their arrivals and departures to the degree that we never really did gather as a group, at least not while I was there. The outing came up a bit short of expectations.
But despite these setbacks, the trip was not without its highlights:
- Stopping at the Golden Corral in Fancy Gap and getting charged for a senior buffet rather than an adult one. Though retired, I’m only in my mid-fifties and could have been depressed by this. Instead, it only confirmed that my carefully cultivated scruffy curmudgeon look is working for me. Besides, these days every buck helps.
- Arriving to find Kahuna and J.K. already at the campground with a warm fire and some cold beer. Friends, fire, suds. Priceless.
- Confirming that my fifteen-year-old backpacking tent can still shake off a good rainshower. Comfy, cozy, dry.
- Lying in my tent listening to J.K. as, during a barefoot midnight nature call, he stepped in a fresh pie left by the campground's resident wandering angus. Who knew our club president had such a colorful vocabulary?
- Listening to Po’ Boy sleeping soundly in his tent, with an emphasis on the soundly. The boy’s got some chops, but I understand he’s a lightweight compared to fellow clubmembers Pipes and Chainsaw who have righteously earned these nicknames from their nocturnal serenades.
- Thinking deep thoughts about Big John’s solar powered flashlight. How would you know if it was working?
- Gazing with awe at the most impressive star field I have seen in a long, long time, visible in the only ten minutes of clarity, between rain shower and dense fog, on Saturday night.
The fishing may have been lousy, but the company was grand and, I guess, that’s what a good outing is supposed to be. Thanks to all the TFF guys who made it. Here's hoping that the rain gods smiled more brightly on you after my departure.
And P-Mac, I hope the pink eye is better. Conjunctivitis indeed....