I've seen some unsettling things in my days. But after Chet and I pulled up to Jay's house in Vancouver I thought I'd seen it all.
We're talking about Vancouver, WA here. Not the glittering metropolis that is Vancouver, BC. There are no sky scraping condos and office buildings here. No Chinatown, Gas Town, street vendors, ethnic restaurants, discos, clubs, bars or taverns. Well there were bars and taverns but being so close to Oregon the wait staff doesn't figure on any tips so they cut back their service accordingly. I had to get in a long line just to order a beer. Like I said too close to Oregon.
Back at Jay's house: Me and Chet had just pulled up. We haven't even got out of the rig yet and the front door bursts open and out jumps a half naked Filipino. Wearing only a red cape and capilene loincloth Jay wields in one hand a broken half of a 14 ft spey rod in the other hand a garbage can lid. Spear and shield.
"THIS IS SPARTA!" he commands.
Yep, Jays house. Hi Jay, this is my pal Chet.
An hour later we're in a neighborhood bar throwing 'em back and telling war stories. Before we're even half drunk Jay has invited us back for a dozen fishing trips. After a while Gamby joins us. We spend the next hour trying to talk Gamby into going fishing with us tomorrow. He can't, spousal maintenance.
Back at Jay's house, or Sparta as he would have us call it, we drink a few more beers. His wife is there too and actually seems tolerant of her husband and his guests, what a woman. We're set to meet Steelhead Mike at 0530hrs. Jay calls him, informs him of our current state and gets a one hour extension.
I don't even hear him knock. It's still dark out and frost rings the living room window. But this is Sparta and these guys are hardcore steelheaders so I peel myself off the couch and ready my kit.
An hour and half later we're driving up the valley of some river, Jay or Mike won't say which. We explore a few different stretches of un-said river. Other than a mid day break at a burger stand we're at it all day.
Back on 'ol Nameless the four of us leapfrog our way up-stream, into a wooded valley. We see a few 'heads but they are dark and tired looking. They don't bite I checked.
On the way back to the truck the boys sighted some fresh fish. Nobody bothered to tell me though. An hour and a half later, back at the truck, my phone rings.
"Hey dude where are you?" says Chet.
"I'm back at the rig, where are you guys?"
"Ummm, we're on the river catching fish, you should come back."
I can't go back because I broke my rod down and changed out of my wading gear. It's almost dark, my friends are catching steelhead and I'm sitting at the truck twiddling my thumbs. I feel like an idiot. I should be used to that by now.
It hasn't rained in a week and the river is down to a trickle. We din't see any fresh fish while working upstream so there shouldn't of been any on the walk back downstream. Right?
Wrong. The guys that catch steelhead are the guys that keep at it. Mike fishes every piece of water as if it held the last steelhead on earth. On the other end of the spectrum is Jay. He made about four casts all day but managed to hook a big buck and land a small hathery fish. Chet? Chet's too dumb too know any better, as long as Mike and Jay were fishing Chet was fishing. Chet hooked three and landed one, a regular savant he is. Meanwhile I'm back in the truck taking a nap, brilliant.
On the drive back to Sparta Jay apolgizes for the weather, low flows and lack of fish, things over which he has no control. But I know the feeling. When you take some friends out to your fishing hole you want them to do well. Sometimes good fishing is like that cartoon frog, it only sings when nobody else is around.