So often we talk and write about the destination…but frequently the journey to the fishing grounds is the true story. Don’t believe me? Well, then just think for a moment on all the stuff you’ve done in your life to get to the fish: Some of it was probably not exactly what you’d call safe. Some was physically grueling and some of it was straight up fun.
This is a tribute to the journey: To all the rapids run and river crossings that were just at the top of your waders. To the miles hiked and rough water poundings. To the brilliant sunsets, calm waters and the epic adventures that make this sport so awesome. This is a tribute to Getting There.
Is there anything better than blazing across glassy water at dawn? The anticipation of what the day holds is almost too much to stand, so you slam the throttle all the way open so you can get there just a bit faster. Unfortunately, these beautiful quiet moments are usually forgotten as soon as you get to where you are going and the lines are in…well, until the next morning anyway.
Perhaps more than any other method of transportation, small inflatables enhance “the journey is the adventure” concept. Man, some of the things we’ve done in these things would give the manufactures’ legal teams nightmares if they only knew. But what fun! And in some spots, personal rafts and pontoons are the only way to get there.
Alaskan backcountry jet boating in a little jonboat that could run on a wet lawn is one of my favorite things to do on this planet. Arm yourself with couple rods, a shotgun, a shovel and a chainsaw and go find the source of some creek. The “getting there” part is guaranteed to be more fun than the actual fishing!
Sometimes getting back is all you can think about. Maybe the dreaded north wind blew 35 freezing knots all day, the fish didn’t bite and now you have to beat your way right into the teeth of it to get home. It’s funny how it always seems that, after one of those long, cold, wet rides home you pull into the harbor and the wind lies
down and you think “well, that wasn’t so bad.” And that’s exactly how you end up back out on the water the very next day.
It’s something most sane people wouldn’t understand…but the allure of catching chrome far outweighs the risk of encountering something that’s higher up the food chain. Never mind that steaming pile of droppings in the middle of the path and the still flopping salmon missing its belly on the bank…there probably aren’t any grizzlies around here…right? Here, the journey involves some edgy nerves and, often, a heavily pounding heart.
We all have those “I’m lucky I made it through that” moments and several of mine had to do with crossing raging rivers in chest waders and praying my next step out in the middle of the channel actually hits tierra firma before I fill up and get sucked down the deadly rapids below. And then there were those brutal hikes through the snow with felt soles…if you’ve done it you know what I’m talking about! Hiking and waders isn’t a great combination…but it usually means I’m headed somewhere cool.
I’ve been on some float trips in which the portages outnumbered the fish. It’s funny how those trips seem so brutal when you’re there…but often become the most fondly remembered adventures after some time passes and the memory of the pain fades… “There we were, dragging the boat around anything Mother Nature threw at us…we couldn’t be stopped.”
The journey is truly a thrill when you find a secret honey hole that takes a little creative driving to get to.