My Time Machine
A lot can be said about a man and his truck, especially a fisherman. Clean, dirty? Well kept, or dented and rusted like an old piece of farm equipment? Well, don’t judge a book by its cover, right?
Peer inside and you might just find something else in there that has some soul. It’s like discovering Nina Simone or Miles Davis while shopping at the mall. It’s shocking and slaps you in the face when it happens. A cold-hearted flush of the toilet while in the shower. Immediately, you realize your misjudgment and mistake. You see, any fisherman worth his salt will have a few stories to tell of his travels and adventures over the years and, just like his old truck, so too will his visor.
Recently, I sold my old Ford F-150 with just over 287,000 miles on it. As I was sitting there in the dealership’s sales office trying to not absorb the essence of sales dripping on my knee…I kept slipping in and out of the conversation reflecting on travels, adventures and days on rivers far and wide with that ol’ truck. It was like a real life scene out of Leave It To Beaver. Black and White movie clips playing in my mind of days gone by. I bought that truck when gas was somewhere around $1.20 a gallon. I had a tape deck back then for god’s sake. I thought nothing of driving to Missoula for a weekend. Fishing the Yakima after getting off work on a weeknight during the long days of summer. Secret locations in Central Idaho with 3 tons of gear loaded in and racking up an impressive 6-8 mpg while driving 13 hours straight, each way. No problem.
All of a sudden, as I saw my old friend disappearing from the lot, I realized I had forgotten something. Something important. A few some-things in fact. Flies and lots of them. I had 18 years worth of memories in the way of flies on my visor and they were driving off into the sunset right before my eyes. Now, I never ran track in my day but after this hurdling performance I sure fooled a few people. Somewhere between Mad Max and Prefontaine I was I tell you. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective. I had to be. You see….a lot was on the line (….pun intended). My unwritten deer-haired, marabou memoirs if you will.
• On that visor was my first steelhead on the fly. A wild 8 pound hen from the Deschutes on a Purple Peril. That cold, rainy Tom Wait’s of a November day provided many great memories…..chubby belly dancers, a Praying Mantis and learning the pride of just how loud music could be played in a truck.
• My first fly caught coho. A wild 15 pound, sea-liced buck from the Hoh on a cone headed Popsicle on New Years Eve. Who needs Dick Clark and champagne when you have Jack Daniels and a National Park right?
• My first 20” rainbow…..A gorgeous early March bow on a Yellow Stimulator on a split cane rod in 1987. Met Tim Irish as well as Red and Marlene Blankenship that day. Boy, did that ever change my life. I was hooked!
• My first beach caught salmon and first fish I caught on one of my own patterns I tied…….a nice 6 pound Humpy on a Clouser. The fish gods were kind that day and rewarded me 4 times.
• My first Westslope Cutthroat…..a red slashed beauty of 14” from Kelly Creek on a Para-Hopper. That day I also discovered Lucinda Williams and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. I still can remember the billowing dust cloud in my rearview mirror and the icy cold beers as my old beast plowed down the road chasing the fading sunlight like it was time itself. Little did I know at the time, I was.
All in all there were well over 50 flies up there and I could tell you what each and everyone was from. Even though I still can’t remember to get the garbage and recycle out by 7:30 am on Monday mornings, I can still tell you what each day was like, who I was with, where we were at, what we drank, listened to and likely what we cooked for dinner that night. Friends, Presidents and Glaciers have come and gone since that first day I decided to stick a hook in that faded gray fabric. The trips might be decades old now in my brain but there, on that visor…..they were still real. Just as they were the day I put them up there.
So, as I sit here writing this while looking at a pile of flies I hastily removed from my old visor, I realize how thankful I am for the movement of barbless hooks or a few might not have made it out alive. I am also not sure what I am going to do with all these hackled memories now. They are shamelessly sitting in a paper bag that my “salesman” gave me. Maybe they will end up on a wall or stuck in a hat. After sticking my first fly in my new virgin visor though I realize that they all deserve better. So, I raise my glass and toast to you my old friend. 287,000 miles is a lot of road. It’s a lot of counties and states. It’s a heckuva lot of fish but most importantly…it’s a lot of great memories that I am truly, very thankful for. Now, let’s go fishing…..this new visor looks pretty empty.