I did a couple things today I don’t normally do. It started by packing gear I don’t typically take along. The forecast called for hot, muggy conditions so I grabbed towel and an extra shirt. For some reason I also brought my loksak bag to keep my phone dry. So a towel, spare shirt and waterproof bag; remember those items as they’ll be important later in the story. I headed to the stream about 7:30 and wet my line by 8:30. It amazed me to have such a nice day and only a couple cars in the lot which more than likely belonged to kayakers. Everything I read in the last week centered around hoppers so I started with a hopper dropper rig. This time of year the trail is choked thick with vegetation so I planned to stay in the water and out of the jungle most of the day. The water dropped significantly since I was last out and in several stretches reconfigured the stream. I found myself admiring new runs and holes as I worked my way upstream. At 10:00 I found a nice new cut which looked promising, longer and deeper than before. I caught one fish in the first couple casts. With the sun at my back I advanced through the run on my knees keeping a low profile. At 10:15 two kayakers blew through my hole, so much for stealth. Surely there would be more to follow. I understand sharing the resource I really do, but fishing doesn’t affect their float like their float affects my fishing. The equivalent would be if they had to stop, get out and walk around every fisherman they came to. But I digress. Fish came slow, but often enough to keep me engaged.
I planned to leave by 12:30, home by 1 and off to the Dakota County Fair late afternoon, so the meter was running. While I drudged upstream and at times struggling through the dense forest I noted to allow extra time to get back to my vehicle. By 12 I should’ve turned around, but discovering the subtle changes of receding water and one more fish drove me deeper into the woods. I reached a section of the stream with a notoriously deep hole smack in the middle of the only sensible place to cross. I didn’t dare attempt during higher times, but given current conditions waded out. On tippy toes and slippery rocks I just managed across. Now at one of my favorite spots I begged for one last fish convincing myself that, if caught, I’d clip my fly and head running back to the lot. By now it was 12:30. Shortly into the tail of the pool I caught a fish. I quickly decided to go for another having cheated submerging myself to get here. If you ever wondered if there is punishment for staying too long on a stream when other obligations beckon read on. The very next cast I snagged bottom, breaking off not just the fly, but the middle of my leader. Even an obvious sign to pack it in didn’t deter me. Hastily I tied on a 5 foot section of 5x tippet with the fastest knot I could tie along with a cdc golden stone. Two casts later I heard the unmistaken sound of kayaks scraping bottom. Had they passed through I may have fished longer, but they pulled over just upstream of me like a road block. Yet another sign. Thick vegetation kept me out of sight so I made a couple more casts. I could only see one of the riders, but she was in communication with another. Then a man drenched head to toe drug a half-submerged kayak behind him. His wife, girlfriend or soon to be ex took great pleasure recording the aftermath. He looked unappreciative. Then we locked eyes. I kept a straight face as I read his mind “great an audience.” Inside I snickered, but roles reversed I’m not sure my demeanor would be any different. I looked at my watch, 12:45. I cut my fly and leader ensuring I’d hit no more holes on the way back. Remembering the deep drop off I debated heading upstream by the boaters and around to avoid it, but I didn’t want to add any further insult. So I ventured down deciding to stay on the high side.
The last thing I said to myself was “fishing may have been slow, but at least I’m having a better day than that guy.” The next step my feet didn’t touch bottom and cold water began rushing into my waders. The next two steps the same until I finally came to land. Now this stream may only have 3 places where overflowing your waders is a possibility. I managed a sense of humor about it secretly hoping the kayaker saw me getting comfort out of my misfortune. After getting up on the bank I de-pants. Just as I finished draining my waders the two kayakers paddled by. I don’t think either realized what happened to me. He still seemed shaken and she giddy over their own saga. Thankfully my phone was kept dry by the loksak and there was a towel and dry shirt waiting for me in the car. I hacked my way back and made it home by 1:30. No one seemed to care I was a half hour behind schedule especially since they were all napping, a sign I could have stayed out for one more fish...