Father, Friend, Fisherman, and Fool

That’s who I am. And I have fun, no matter what hat I wear.

This year’s Father’s Day was one that I won’t soon forget. It started early and after church, we all spent time at my parents house eating cake, laughing, and just enjoying everyone’s company. The only thing that would have made it better is if my son could have been there as well. He’s off on a mission trip with our church group, but he called the night before and that morning wishing me a Merry Father’s Day. All was well with my soul.

That was the first half of my day.

On to the second half.

As the time was quickly approaching our departure from my parents house, I was becoming more and more anxious. The plan was for me to get out on the water. My wife and I had talked about it the day before, and I filled out the proper paperwork, ran it up the chain of command, and received the required permission. 🙂 The girls had some things they were going to do, so I had the afternoon to myself. I called a few friends with the invitation, but work and family denied their chance to come and watch me dance with the fish. 🙂

I usually try and avoid the river on the weekends. Weekdays I have it to myself, but weekends? Yuck. It’s crowded with hoards of yahoos trying to get their drink on. Loud music that everyone’s trying to talk over and piles of beer cans carelessly discarded every where you step. But when you have very few fishing opportunities, better judgement has to be pushed to the side. I decided on a drop in that would likely have great multitudes of people, but I knew after a short paddle, i’d be alone.

I was not wrong in the amount for people. Head count looked over 200 on this one acre parcel of land. It’s a beautiful area, especially when the sunlight hits the beer bottles just right that are lined up by the porta-potty. But I was determined to get on the water.

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The recent rains have done a good job of flushing a ton of vegetation down river and leaving a nice clear drop in. It had rained hard earlier in the morning and the water was noticeably up.

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I normally like to get out in the morning and be done before I start to sizzle like a strip of bacon. But I didn’t even get on the water until 2:30pm….and it was hot. I gripe about the wind a lot when i’m fishing, mainly because it’s always howling. Today was calm, no wind. The only relief was by way of the limited shade or taking a swim. I did both.

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As stated, the water was up. There were even a few spots I flew down where I have never been able to. There’s always a ton of dragging on this river. But not today.

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I’m not a superstitious person. Well, not too much of one I guess. Probably only with fishing. There are things I might do out of habit, but the habit could be construed as superstition since the reason i’m doing it is to make sure I don’t have bad luck on the trip. 🙂 One of those is throwing the first cast out and reeling in fast. I guess it was an old tale I was told when I was a kid. If you catch a fish on your first cast, you better pack it up and go, you’re done catching for the day. Weird how it would happen through the years. First cast, fish on. No fish the rest of the day. So, I did my first cast to rid any bad mojo that might be settling just below the surface. It was short and in the middle of nothing. Then…..fish on! No no no no no no no no. Yep, fish on.

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I was excited, but at the same time, that thought was in my head. I laughed at it, thinking how dumb it was for me to think like that. But i’ll probably keep doing it…but only out of tradition, not superstition. 🙂

I am pleased to say that the fish gods were in a good mood, and granted me a free one day pass for breaking the rules. I caught a total of twelve through the afternoon. All were small, 14 inches and under. But who cares, what a great day to be on the water.

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There were a lot of things going against me, but I refused to let anything get in my way of an awesome time. Every part of the day was enjoyed.  From the long stretches…

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To the rapids…

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To the narrow, overgrown sections.

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Me in my happy place.

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It was getting later in the day, so I decided to start heading back. All those cool rapids that were so fun on the way down, became a little more troublesome trying to walk back up them.

I got back to the drop in and began my loading process. There were more people there than before and was bumper to bumper cars. Loud music, hollerin’ drunks, burning meat, and oh look…there’s the game warden coming my way.

Some folks don’t like seeing these guys coming, but I welcome it. One, i’m not doing anything wrong, and two, they always have useful info about people and places. He asked how things were going and really liked my yak and setup. He saw my Fly River Media sticker on the car and said he was new to fly fishing. We talked gear, flies, technique, and fish caught. He had questions about a setup that was affordable for a beginner, but good enough to last many years as he advanced. I pulled out my gear and we went through it. He showed me some photos on his phone of fish he’d caught on the fly rod, and of course I did the same. We were standing there for nearly half an hour talking. Then of course he asks to see my license, no problem, i’m good until Sept. 1st. He said I know your all good, but it’s all part of the job. Again, no problem. I start digging through my wallet with no luck. I asked if he could just use my driver license. I gave it to him and he used his phone to check it out. He looked back up and smiled at me.

“You’re expired man.”

SAY WHAT??? How???

“May 21st.”

“What??? I thought I had until September.”

I’m starting to freak a little. He then tells me it’s a very common mistake the last year or so since they started the new permit plan where whatever day you buy it, gives you a full year to the day. For the last 20 years i’ve had them it’s always been the same rules…Sept to Sept, no matter when you get it. You buy one in August, you’ll have to buy another come September.

I had forgotten all about that I guess and just thought I had a few more months. I’m an advocate for kayak safety, fishing safety, water conservation, and I follow all the rules. I told him I was embarrassed at all this, considering all I try to do for this sport. What a doofus.

He said no biggie, I didn’t see you fishing even though I know you were, and i’m not giving you a ticket, just go get one. Rules are rules and I was more than willing to take the hit. Just glad it worked out the way it did.

I thanked him and gave him my card with an open invite to get out and do some fly fishing….after I get a license of course.

He left and a few minutes later I was approached my 2 guys from a party near by.

One asked,”What the heck was going on? He was there forever. What happened?”

“Nothing”, I said. “We were just talking about fishing.”

I guess i’m a “little” long winded when it comes to fishing and family. 🙂

Thanks for coming along,

Scott

Scott Gartman

Scott Gartman

Scott Gartman is a photographer and filmmaker. He is also an avid fisherman, kayaker, backpacker, and overall outdoorsman. His accolades are too many to list, as with the many streets and towns named after him. He’s a legend in his own mind. Check out his home page at www.flyrivermedia.com

5 thoughts on “Father, Friend, Fisherman, and Fool

  • June 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    Very nice piece Scott. Really enjoyed the post and pictures! Have to admit, I just checked my license to see if it was current, lol! 🙂 Knuckles and I need to make a trip out to fish the Concho sometime; spent a lot of time in Big Spring with my grandparents as a young man, hence drove through San Angelo many times. Sounds like a great Father’s Day; glad you got time on the water. FishyB

    Reply
    • Scott Gartman
      June 20, 2016 at 5:08 pm
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      Thank you sir! If you’re ever running through Angelo again, give me a shout. I’ll give you some directions to some nice spots and may just have to join you. 🙂 Take care!

      Reply
  • June 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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    Another great article with pictures, Scott.

    Reply

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