Frye: Fishing trip joy and misery
There's no such thing as a bad fishing trip. Let's get that out of the way first.
The weather can turn sour. The accommodations can be lousy. The travel can be tedious. The fish that you've dreamt about and longed for even can refuse to bite, which can be annoying as all get out.
But when you're standing in a stream, you're not working or paying bills or mowing the lawn just enough to keep the neighbors from complaining, right?
Still, joy and misery are relative.
A couple of friends and I recently decided to skip away for a weekend. The idea was to go to camp near Marienville and Allegheny National Forest and relax. We'd eat stuff no doctor would really recommend, stay up late around the campfire and tell stories, some of them actually true.
We're old friends, veterans of the same scout troop. We've camped many a night together and so know each other's foibles. That's often a key part of any trip, avoiding getting on each other's nerves. Spend some time in close quarters with a guy you don't always get along with, and you'll know what I mean.
But even familiarity can't account for everything.
The plan had been to leave as early as possible Friday, stopping only long enough to grab a few supplies.
“We'll eat dinner along the way,” my friend Darryl said.
That ended up being burgers and milkshakes just 20 minutes from home, after we got a much-later-than-expected start and wasted time fruitlessly searching one of those big box stores for hip boots.
Still, our hopes were high Saturday morning when we left camp headed for a nearby stream holding leftover stocked trout. Halfway there the one-lane, dirt road was blocked by fallen trees. We stopped, broke out the chainsaw and spent an hour clearing the way.
That done, we took off again. But a hundred yards farther on I heard something out the back driver's side window of Herb's truck.
Pssst … pssst … pssst.
Just as I was about to say I thought we'd blown a tire, Herb gunned it and we bounced and splashed through a few road-wide, mid-calf-deep puddles in an attempt to get to hard ground before the tire completely gave out. We made it, barely.
Fixing the flat took another hour. We were hot, sweaty, and covered in grime and bits of leaves, bark and dirt before we'd ever made our first cast.
Things got better, if not always by much. At one point, Darryl stepped into his borrowed waders, putting his size eight feet into size 11 hip boots only to find out in midstream that they had dry rotted. Water flooded in through the hairline cracks, so that he sloshed with every step.
We all caught fish before the weekend was out — mostly brown trout, but a few brooks and even a rainbow, with each of us getting enough to keep from leering enviously at the next guy. We saw a few deer, a couple of turkeys, and even found bear tracks over top of ours from one day to the next, too.
Was it perfect? No.
But I would sign up for another adventure just like it — in a minute.