Permanently Assigned to Ride Shotgun

Here’s the typical trip.

Russ’s schedule is the tightest, so a lot of times he starts the idea. He e-mails us.

“I’m free tomorrow after 4:00. Anyone want to run up the canyon after work? Maybe we can catch a hatch. I’ve got to go fishing. Got to.”

Or, sometimes he’s got bigger news.

“I’m clear for an all-day trip Saturday. Should we hit the Bear? Oneida Narrows in the morning and Black Canyon after lunch?”

Brad fishes the most of the three of us, so he turns the idea into a plan. He suggests which sections we should work on and how to fish them. Maybe he’s got a new place in mind. We set a time, move it around a little to accommodate work and wives. On the day of the trip, we text each other if we’re running late, but we’re not late.

We meet at someone’s house, depending on which direction we’re heading. We pack our stuff into Russ’s SUV. Before he shuts the back there’s a doublecheck.

“Wait, where’s my vest? Oh, here it is. Okay. I’m good.”

“Anyone got some extra 5x tippet?”

“Yeah, I got some.”

Russ drives. I have somehow been permanently assigned to ride shotgun. I sometimes ask Brad if he wants to sit up-front. He always says no.

On the way to the stream, we talk loud and laugh a lot. Everyone’s punchy. We stop at a gas station to fuel up and get Doritos and cookies. Then we take off again, talking loud, still punchy. As we approach the stream, suddenly we’re experts on entomology and meteorology and hydrology.

“This cloud cover is perfect for a mayfly hatch.”

“Supposed to get up to 60 later today, and no wind.”

“I checked the USGS website. Flows dropped again.”

When we get to the stream, Reality is waiting there at the turn-out or parking lot or up the jeep trail, and for better or worse, He fishes with us all day.

We usually keep fishing until it’s nearly dark, then trudge back to the car. It takes longer to break our stuff down than it did to set it up. On the drive home, we’re quieter. We yawn mid-sentence and rub our faces. I always think how nice it’d be to sleep all the way home, but I stay awake and talk. Russ shakes the last shards of chips from the wrapper into his mouth and we eat up the last of the cookies.

If the fishing was good, we re-tell the tales, entering them into our shared memory in case we need them later.

“That one by the bridge slammed it. He was waiting for it.”

“I thought for sure he was gonna get off.”

“What were you using again?”

“Parachute Adams.”

If the fishing was poor, we console ourselves.

“What a great day, though. Great to get out. We at least caught a few.”

“Oh, absolutely. We need to go back there again.”Every Day in May

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4 thoughts on “Permanently Assigned to Ride Shotgun

  1. paracaddis says:

    Ha Ha, lovely story, I used to do trips with my mate like this. We would put some Blue Grass in the CD and the shotgun guy would read passages from John Gierach. Gordon would always forget something, waders, fly box or whatever but he was always hungover so it was excusable. You brought back fond memories of those days. Thanks for sharing. Fishing is about more than just fishing.

  2. Thanks, friend. Definitely more to it than wetting the line, isn’t there? If we found a way to “beam” ourselves to the water and home again, we’d find ourselves missing the drive up and back.

  3. Able Damm says:

    so true and the same as my experiences. Getting there is half the fun if not more so.

  4. Thanks for the thought, friend.

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