Carol Northcut | Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Slipperier than snot on a doorknob. Slipperier than a greased bowling ball. This is THE most slippery substrate I’ve ever fallen on. Of course, it didn’t help that I need to replace the studs on my old Simms Headwaters wading boots. We’d hiked in nearly 2 miles to the creek on trails that are well used in the winter, but much less so in the summer. The last two times we’d driven by the parking area, it was empty, but not so on Sunday. There were four cars, including an antique car from the 1920’s or 1930’s with a rumble seat. On the side was written “Warden. Montana State Prison.” Obviously, the car still ran and still had the original license plate. Pretty cool!

It was a cooler day, so walking in waders and boots wasn’t uncomfortable from a temperature perspective. On the trail that paralleled the creek, we were trying to figure out how to drop down the steep, densely vegetated pitch when we met a hiker who sometimes fishes the creek. He was very helpful and said to follow him to where the trail dropped close to the creek. Steve was skeptical, but the gentleman led us to the trail place and told us that the two best pools were further up. He left us with the words, “You should be here in two weeks when the stonefly hatch begins.” We will.

We fished the creek like pocket water. It wasn’t deep or very swift, but it certainly was slippery. I’d think I had firm footing and then would slip. It was slow wading, even with a wading stick. An hour into the venture, I caught an 8” rainbow. When releasing it, I bent over and the rod tube fell out of the pocket of the fishing-specific pack, the elastic on which had given out after less than two years of use. (That had happened once before while hiking, so I took that metal tube and made a duct tape handle. A high tech Macgyver-type solution I’d not used on this tube.) The rod quickly floated away. Fortunately, Steve was below me, the water was neither deep nor fast, but still too fast for me to chase on the slippery substrate. Steve snagged it.  A few minutes later, I had it back in hand. It’s for my favorite small stream fishing rod, a 376-4 fiberglass rod I got an absolute screamin’ deal on in 2006. As a newbie, I didn’t even know what a gem I was getting. The rod costs six times as much now.

My elation was quickly deflated when my left foot slipped and my right foot couldn’t stabilize my balance because it slipped too. Crash, splash. I slammed my shin on a rock, contusing it sobadly the blood ran down my leg inside my waders. (My shins are so scarred from this type of thing that I finally bought soccer shin guards to wear under my waders. Sadly, I’d forgotten them.) Frustrated, I got out, cold, wet and without a dry shirt. But I bucked up and insisted Steve continue fishing for another hour, which turned out to be a good thing because we finally got to the honey holes where he caught three fish in 10 minutes. Satisfied, he was ready to hike back to the car.