Saturday, July 25th, 2020.
The forecast says baste your hide and prepare to be cooked.
When I arrived at the launch site there was a truck parked there, but it wasn’t Drew Blair’s truck. A man emerged from the woods dragging a kayak from the direction of the river, his headlight beam a cloud of insects.
“This isn’t the start I was expecting.”
My second thought was “Where the hell is Drew?” A short conversation later, and I said goodbye to Mitch, the woodsman, who gave up on the launch site. “That’s a rough launch” he said. I offered to help Mitch because I knew, deep in my heart, that Drew was asleep and I wasn’t going to make it alone. He always sleeps in on tournament day. Sure enough, a phone call confirmed it. Thankfully, he lives nearby. Mitch declined.
I waited in the dark for a bit. There wasn’t any morning breeze. I wondered if there was any air. I hoped to hide from the bugs in the darkness, but they found me. I was standing still but I was sweating. The sun would rise in 30 minutes. Drew, half asleep, rolled up and tried to use his Jedi mind powers to make the Hobie slide off his truck.
I’ve launched from difficult locations. This one ranked near the top of the list. The weeds were waist high, ruts in the abandoned road were knee deep and the drop from the bank to the water was actually two separate drops that added up to a Cubist painting. After launching, I realized that one of my rods left one of my lures somewhere in a tree branch behind us.
This isn’t an essay about how good I am at my favorite sport. It’s about a hot river and a cold bite. It’s about the risks I take, the decisions I make and the company I keep. It’s about admitting nature doesn’t care about your fishing plan – or any plan for that matter.