An unfortunate series of events on the Shenandoah River near home yesterday evening for sure. I was in a rush — that’s really all I need to say since you know where that always leads. Straight to disaster, though minor in the wide angle view of life, but still…
Beautiful day after the cold front came through. The humidity left, the clouds withered, and being the front end of summer I had about three hours of daylight left after I got home. So in my reckless haste I began to make a series of mistakes as I aimed to get down to the water and maximize my time there. It’s hard to say if any of the small missteps mattered (forgot the nice camera, the anchor for the kayak, the right hat, the good beer), though maybe they all led to the big one. That most painful error started with me deciding, uncharacteristically, to string up the fly rod in my driveway and then… wait for it… shove it in the car sticking out the window. Yeah, I know. The good thing was that nothing bad happened driving down our narrow dirt road to the river. The bad thing was that after parking the car, it was time to disembark and do the car parking ritual — car in gear, brake on, close up the sunroof and (ooops) CLOSE THE WINDOWS.
That fly rod had become one of my favorites, a nice find on eBay early last year, a Scott G, 9’6″ 8 weight two piece, about twenty years old. Still, it looked fine on my rush (that word again) inspection. So into the kayak it and I went, with a yellow size 6 popper on the end of that swank Orvis saltwater line and several bits of leader and tippet. First cast, a strike. The wind was blowing upstream so that was nice to not only cast in that direction but to have the wind push me that way, so no padding required to pretty much stay put in one spot. Anchor not needed. Everything was going my way. Second cast, nothing. Third cast — CRACK.
A noise I’m not familiar with.
I examined the rod, starting from the handle. Guide by guide on the way up, everything looks good, until the last quarter when I see the rod is splintered longitudinally into three shards of once expensive, now junk carbon fiber graphite tech material. Crap.
Back to the car and rig up the beefy Ugly Stick. Paddled to the deep holes near the big sycamores and cast right up against the weeds on shore, chugging and gurgling, pulling another popper (much bigger than the fly rod version) under the water and letting it float to the top like something wounded and dying. Cast-cast-cast-cast-cast about a hundred times and BAM! I hauled in the biggest smallmouth to date (for me) on the Shenandoah. Awesome!!! He jumped five times, dove several times, pulled me around a little, came up and was, as they always seem to be, royally pissed. Single hook right in the corner of the mouth. Photos all around then release. That was good.
Maybe not worth the broken rod, maybe worth it. No looking back now. Except at that fish.