Monday, June 29, 2009

Sleeping In the Dirt: Truck Stop Stone Fly

Directly from the rejects pile, I give you Truck Stop Stone Fly:

At seventy miles-per-hour, adult Salmon Flies don’t just ping off your truck’s windshield; They thud! Two-inch-long bugs coated the glass with their insides. Paul turned on the wipers. Spraying wiper fluid in five second bursts, he attempted to clean-off enough space to keep us on the road. As co-pilot, I instinctively performed a quick check of fly-boxes-nada. Our tying bags lay riding passenger onthe jump seats behind us. The following is an inventory of our materials resulting from the in-route search: One black marker, orange thread, super-glue (hard-as-nails), and a fifty pack of #8 Tiemco 101s. After coming up zeros in our boxes and with a partial materials list we both realized how dark our situation was. On a highway outside Yellowstone, my friend Paul and I were faced with a question: What do two guys do, when they stumble upon an early emergence of Pteronarcys while on the way to fish the Madison, without a single imitation between them?
Bent over the backseat I called out what was still needed, “Looks like we need foam, under and over wing materials, legs” SCREEEECCCHHHH!!!! Thrown into the front windshield ass-first, too stunned to speak all I could do was think, “Holly Shit!” Once at a complete stop, and to my chagrin still inside the cab of my friend’s truck, I turned myself around to sit face forward, expecting to see a pile of cars inches in front of us.
Looking at empty highway, for as far as the eye could see, Paul spoke, “the truck stop!”
No sooner than the words past his lips, we were flipping a u-turn and headed back down the freeway the way we came. Ten miles earlier we had past an-over-the-road gas station used by truckers, stocked with everything a guy who makes his life traveling the open road could need. The excitement outweighed my mild concussion, and I found myself again digging through the backseat of a moving vehicle searching for my vice and tools I would need to tie while Paul drove.

The anticipation of missing the hatch drew out the short car trip back to the truck stop. Ten miles turned into torture. Driving in the other direction, the hatch moved up river, and as we back-swiped fewer and fewer bugs, the pressure grew inside the cab of the truck like a boiling kettle. Upon arrival, we had made a tactical decision based upon our perceived time constraints. I was to scout out the materials needed while Paul sat in line at the in-stop Burger King, acquiring us a couple Whopper’s for the road. We hit the store, splitting up. Paul went left to BK and I attacked the dozen-or-so isles full of trucker-paraphernalia.
Spying down the first isle, looking for anything that could fill our materials list. At the end of the row stood an overweight couple doing their best to fill out tiger-striped Zorbas pants. Spotting the orange beer-coolie held in the man’s hands, I moved closer catching the last part of their conversation.
“Hey babe, look at this one, says Honk if you aren’t Horny, think they made this one for you.” The man chuckled and his bloated gut popped out from the bottom of his t-shirt between laughs. She didn’t respond. I thought, “been there man,” but I didn’t say it. I grabbed my body material from the shelf, an orange beer coolie with the inscription, “The Original National Guard” and a silhouetted picture of a Native American in full headdress holding a rifle. As a point of reference, “Beer Coolies” are the foam bottle and can holders made to keep your beverage cold and your hands dry. They’re commonly found at picnics, summer BBQs, and my house.
Turning down the next isle, radar detectors, CBs, and power converters used to run TVs and Laptops from a cigarette lighter. At the cap of the electronics isle was s small display of office supplies: Pens, paper, pencils, a mini stapler, and a ball of rubber bands. Grabbing the rubber bands, I thought, “legs-check.” Still in need of wing material I practically ran into the hat stand.
More fart humor sayings mixed in with John Deer mesh hats, nothing of interest here. Wait! At the top of the rack, two feet above my head, was a mock Davy-Crocket type coonskin hat. I grabbed the fur cap and pressed back the fibers, letting them sift through my fingers back into place. They were about the right length, but I wasn’t sure they were hollow enough to float. The hat would have to make do. Just then I looked over to see Paul filling glasses at the drink dispenser, with a bag of food on the counter beside him. In my excitement, I was forgetting about the underwing and moved to the cashier line to pay.
We hopped into the car. After passing out food and getting situated, I set up the vice. Halfway through the very first bug I cursed aloud.
“What is it?” Paul Asked.
“Dude I forgot the F’ing underwing,” I spat out, completely disgusted with my missing of a key ingredient.
“No worries, they will fish without an under-wing,” Paul said, not meaning it, trying to be a nice guy.
“Fuck they will,” I snapped and looked over at him to apologize. Paul had a glob of mustard from his burger hanging from his goatee.
Before he could respond or I say sorry I spoke, “Dude you save that for later?” Gesturing at the mustard on his face with my fist full of bobbin a scissors.
Looking up right, into the rearview, Paul started laughing hysterically. I thought, “yeah it’s funny, but not that funny dude.” I stayed silent and let him ride it out.
“Mustard man, it comes in packets.” Paul flung his empty at me across the cab, hitting me in the hat. It fell and stuck to my shirt.
“That is your inner wing, man. Cut it open,” Paul said, smiling as big as he could, with the mustard still stuck to his face.
So you ask: What do two guys do, when they stumble upon an early emergence of Pteronarcys while on the way to fish the Madison, without a single imitation between them?
We improvise and come up with the Truck-Stop-Stone, mustard packet inner-wing and all. Not only did that bug fish, we went through all but one tied in the truck that day. We fished the Gallatin and then the Madison, chasing the migration up river, while experiencing some of the best fishing either of us had ever tasted.


kolobflyfishing said...

Congrats on making it! The article in Catch is great. I thought you were frusterated with your writing and photog's? Looks like the slump is over. I fish in Southern Utah, and once in a while at Lees Ferry. I am also on the forum with some of the guys you fish with. Give me a shout next time your this way. Way to go man!

MIKE said...

Great story about using what you can find!