I’m the first to admit, I have a dad bod. I’m short and shaped like a blueberry muffin that you squished and tossed in the trash can. I try to work out when I can, but the allure of a cold beer keeps this body softer than the love tissues next to your computer. A lot of you spend time getting in shape for summer. You’ll hit the gym, the weights, and the tanning bed in preparation for tinder mating rituals and the strutting of your stuff. Not me though. When summer comes around I prepare myself for something completely different, greasy summers.
I’m lucky enough to be in the position to have much of the summer off. I’m also lucky that I have a loving wife who puts up with my grotesque body and poor life choices. So, when summer beckons my name I come running (slowly) to morph into a greasy fly fisherman. Each summer a friend and myself spend a week or two in the woods fly fishing and fulfilling our destiny as the greasiest fishermen on the planet. During this period, we stop shaving, stop showering, and drink enough beer to rival Wade Boggs on a cross country flight. But, to me, this is the most special time of year and I would like to share one of the special greasy memories with you. A story I call, “The Smell.”
Anticipation before our summer trip is something to be revered. There is just something so special about preparing yourself for a week in the woods. From the beer selection, down to size of your steak, I just can’t wait to pack our trailer up and hit the road. This greasy summer was somewhat of an interesting one. It was one of unprecedented heat and dryness. A fire ban was in effect, and the rivers were much lower and warmer than normal. However, we loaded up the 200+ beers and did one final check for mustache satisfaction. I’ll tell you something, those cookie dusters looked the greasiest they have ever been.
After a few days of fishing higher up in the mountains, we arrived at a second fishing location. Our journey out of the first camping spot was long and arduous, filled with potholes, winding roads, and teetering cliff ledges. What a relief it was to arrive at asphalt and hear the hum of our tires, compared to the thudding miles of gravel. We parked within a hidden patch of trees next to the river we wanted to fish for the next few days, unloaded our gear, and put our feet up to relax. After a few minutes a curious smell wafted up our unsuspecting nostrils. At first, it was faint. Soon thereafter a monumental stink arrived, invading our campsite with the reckoning not found at even the smelliest of garbage cans. This unbelievable aroma was a mixture of old tacos and dead bodies. Believe me, it was not pleasant. We spent the next few hours searching around our campsite for the dead animal that caused this ungodly stink. To our dismay, we could not find the source of the smell and eventually our sense of smell dwindled out like the setting sun.
The next morning, e ignored the tainted air and headed out to a new area of river. Under the guidance of my good friend Danica, we followed directions that ultimately had me trying to use the truck as a rock climber. With our parking spot securely positioned over a boulder, I loaded up the Fishpond Thunderhead Sling with water (beer) and hit the trail. I’ll tell you something, wearing Simms Guide Pant Waders in 30+ degree Celsius weather is not something smart people do. Smart people wear neoprene socks, wading boots, and shorts. Luckily, I am on the other spectrum of smart and decided to turn my pants into a Swedish sauna.
Arriving at the river we came face to face with those pools that keep you up at night. The ones that people on Instagram write crappy poetry about, containing lines like “the deep hues of green and blue swirled majestically, burning a hole into my stupid head.” Or, something to that effect. We hopped off the bank and I dipped my hat in the water to cool down. The heat felt unbearable, and the hot tub I’d created in my waders wasn’t helping. I gave my Ross Reel a bath to clean of the dust, rolled out some new 6x tippet, and tied on a beautiful size 14 parachute Adams. I drifted my fly along the edge of the current, right along a rock bank where the trout can hide. Cast after cast yielded stunning cutthroat trout, all of which looked mystified by the glorious womb broom that glimmered along my upper lip. Once the first few poetic pools had been pillaged for their treasures, we continued upstream.
After a mile or so the smell had made invaded my nostrils once more. Curses! How did these unholy fumes follow us on our journey? I kid you not, this smell was much worse than the smell at our campsite. It was almost gag worthy. We checked our pits and ruled them out as the culprit, noting only an ample smell of man. Next, I opened the hotbox inside my waders and let out an atom bomb of hot gas and sweat. However, this too was not the offender, only another noxious smell that added to the pungent air. As we wandered further upstream the smell intensified, and my worry that a bear was nearby did too. If you’re not aware, bears often have a stench that one could describe as hotter garbage than your ex girlfriend. We soon rounded a bend to see three beautiful golden eagles hovering ahead. They were circling above cause of the putrid foul smell… A dead cow moose sitting motionless in the current. It’s back exposed from the water, displaying rotting meat and sun-bleached bones. That wonderful odor was of death and decay. As the water dripped down from my recently river dunked hat, the realization hit me that I’d been soaking my hat downstream of a rancid and decaying dead moose. In that moment I had become the ultimate greasy fisherman. My mustache was shimmering, my body was leaking sweat like a Chinese dam, and the single Simms shirt I’d worn all trip had visible stink lines. I had peaked.
Once we discovered the cause of the stink, we turned around and headed down stream. No need to have the dog try and take on a bear to show off how tough he was. We finished the day finding more poetic pools and more cutthroat that we could count. With the sun setting behind the mountains, we packed our smelly and tired bodies into the truck and headed back towards camp. So, we had found the answer to the one smell, but what about the lingering stink back at our campsite? I’m embarrassed to say it, but we didn’t find out for 2-days. We had checked the propane tanks for leaks that first day, but we sadly had not checked under the trailer for leaks. Turns out the rocks from the gravel road shot up and knocked loose a piece of the hot water propane line. I later read that propane poisoning is a very real thing. Scary to think how this trip could really have ended, with the death of a greasy fisherman.