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UNDERCOVER FISHING GUIDE

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on Saturday, 25 March 2017
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   bobbers_2       Ran a trip with T-Bird the other day. We were at the boat launch at the wrong time ‘cause everybody else was there, too. Must have been fifteen rigs gettin’ ready. People everywhere, forty or fifty of 'em.

   The guide next to me in the parking lot was setting up fly rods for his anglers. He was youngish, trim, early twenties, groomed facial hair, hoop earring in the left ear with a tiny gold fly reel dangling, had the paisley face mask around his neck even though it was cloudy and gray. Had the bonefish up-downer hat on even though the nearest bonefish was 3000 miles away.

   He was yakking it up to his clients, an elderly couple in their seventies, a white-haired gentleman and his attractive wife. They were watching their young guide rig fly rods standing next to the boat on trailer behind a brand new black Toyota Land Cruiser SUVwith enough rod racks on the roof to outfit a 30 day fishing safari up the Amazon and back.

   The entire rear portion of the truck was covered with bumper stickers…Tie One On, Got Trout?, Trout Hunter, Trout Stalker, Trout Slayer, Trout Snagger, Fish Whisperer, Fly Guy, Fish On, Strip It, Rip It, Hump It, Twitch It, Tease It, The Best Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Fly, A Life Without Fly Fishing Is Not Worth Living and "Bite Me."

   I thought, this dude has a strong desire to be noticed.

   As he rigged the rods he brought out a large, clear plastic box with rows of compartments, set it out on the boat seat and laid it open.

   Inside were bobbers, lots and lots of bobbers, hundreds of bobbers, bobbers of every color imaginable…red ones, white ones, red and white ones, yellow ones, green ones, orange ones, light blue, turquoise, sky blue, Carolina blue, hot pink, fuschia, lavender, chartreuse, blaze orange, lime green, deep purple, candy striped, pin striped, tiger striped…round, egg shaped, quarter inch, half inch, three quarter inch, plastic, cork, balsa and bubinga.

   I had never seen so many bobbers in all my life.

   The guide was explaining to the couple and to anyone else in earshot:

   “ This bright red one here, I use it when the fish are really biting, on cloudy days I go to the hot pink, blaze orange or fuschia. To get the fish excited I use the lime green and candy stripe…I use deep purple for sunny days, barber pole for foggy days, turquoise for rainy days, and this sparkly one here I use just before a storm rolls in.”

   “I will usually start with the half inch and work my way up to the three quarter inch.”

   “I have experimented with the fuzzy bobbers made of sheep’s wool, goat wool, mohair, cat hair and the hair from my Golden Retriever. But a few of my clients are allergic to fur so I went all synthetic all the time.”

   “Because of the extensive research I have done, Fly Fisherman Magazine has asked me to write an article on bobber fishing but I said no way! Don’t want my secrets getting out there.”

   “Fly Fishing The Universe” wanted to do an hour TV Special on me and my bobbers but they couldn’t pay me the money I wanted. I have turned down a lot of offers.“

   “People ask me all the time if I have ever taken any famous people fishing, you know, celebrities. I am a modest guy and don’t like to brag, but I have taken…well I almost took Lindsey Lohan once but she had to cancel at the last minute. Of course she sent me a nice check. Justin Bieber’s people are talking to my people…next summer is looking REAL good for me and The Beebs. Oh, and Mylie Cyrus is interested.”

   The white haired man and his wife’s eyes were beginning to glaze over.

   “ The word of mouth is definitely getting around about me and my bobber fishing. There is a loud buzz surrounding me in the fly fishing world. I am

so busy, so tired, so in demand, so popular, so special, booked solid...you guys are lucky to have me today."

   I noticed by now the lady angler had gotten back in front seat of the Toyota and was dozing off.

   "The thing about this bobber fishing, you can't give up, don't quit, stick with it -  if the red isn't working go green - if the green can't cut it go yellow - keep changing it up - just follow my lead, I'll show you how it's done."

   By this time the guide was pretty much talking to himself.

   “ Well that's about it folks. Enough about me and my bobbers. Any questions”?

   The elderly gentleman cleared his throat,

 

“Yes, I have a question, can we go fishing now”?

 

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UNDERCOVER FISHING GUIDE 5

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on Wednesday, 22 March 2017
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    It was one of those rare Montana summer days, bright sunshine, warm temps, no wind. Me and One Fly and Lonnie were guiding a group of retired business execs from St. Louis. Fishing was pretty good in the morning…me and Lonnie were doing well using trudes and yellow Sallys, while One Fly’s angler caught a couple of beauties using a #8 Prince Nymph, 2X, no dropper, no bobber, tumbled not twitched.

 

   We floated past the Rail Fence Hole and tucked back in a side channel is a white drift boat with a man and woman sitting there having a snack. I get closer and they wave. I wave back. It is the couple from San Francisco who were in the Wagon Wheel the day of the fight.

 

   Their boat had a rainbow peace sign stenciled on the bow.

   I finished the trip and headed for the Wagon Wheel and called Butch the Game Warden-asked him to come down for a cold one.

   The Shewmaker fire was still the hot topic around Town. The final tab came to $28,680… the landowner, sheriff and the county wanted answers and wanted someone to pay. Butch the Game Warden met with me and Skeeter at a back table in the bar. He told us the sheriff was convinced that we set the fire and he was ready to come down with charges and lock us up for arson. They had evidence; the fire starter can, the cooler lid and they knew we were on the river that day. Also, supposedly they had “eye witnesses.”

 

   I told Butch, “Look, our crew had nothing to do with this. Give me 24 hours. I have an idea.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNDERCOVER FISHING GUIDE 4

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on Sunday, 19 March 2017
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   One August day me and Skeeter and T-bird were guidin’ a party of three husband-wife couples from Chicago. Nice folks. We had a decent morning of fishing…everybody caught something except for one of the husbands, Chuck. He wasn’t real chipper ‘cause his wife outfished him five to zip.

 

   Anyway, we cruised on down below McAtee and pulled over in a shady spot for lunch. Dang, it had been a hot summer! 90 degrees every day and the country was drier than a popcorn fart. And windy! Had a nice lunch talking about the Cubs and Da Bears. T-Bird brought his guitar and sang “Big City” by Merle Haggard and then did his own version of “Doo Wah Diddy” by Manfred Man’s Earth Band.

 

     Looking down river by the Shewmaker Ditch and off to the east I saw smoke…lots of smoke. Smoke billowing up in cream colored clouds, thick smoke, smoke fanned by a stiff south breeze and wafting down valley in a huge ball of white haze.

   I looked at Skeeter and he was like “WTF”? I looked at T-Bird and he was like “OMG”! We decide to pack up and fish down and check it out.

   A couple bends downstream we came around a corner and spotted several stick figures running in the distance…running fast, carrying large objects, headed for drift boats that were anchored up along shore, jumping in, thrashing oars, rowing downstream in a big hurry, gettin’ outta Dodge.

   We pulled over, got out, and wandered up the bank, worked our way through the bushes. The smoke was so thick it was hard to see, eyes watered and burned. We looked out across the wide area, the entire field was ablaze…a huge grass fire the shape of a gigantic circle was burning and spreading fast, headed toward the highway or anywhere else it felt like. No dwellings were in the area except for an old sheep shack and acres and acres of burning prairie grass and black rocks. As I walked I saw a large campfire ring with charcoal glowing in the center. A large can of Kingsford lighter fluid sat crumpled off to the side. The lid off a Coleman cooler lay nearby, burned black and partially melted. I wandered around through the burned area and over near a charred cottonwood stump I noticed something odd. I saw a crumpled hunk of charred metal with struts and gizmos and gadgets in a tangled mess, looked kinda like a wrecked kids Erector Set toy. I called Skeeter over.

“Hey, Skeeter, check this out. Careful, it’s still hot. Bring a water bottle, douse it, bag it and throw it in the boat.”

 

 

   Watching the several-acre fire burn out of control left us helpless. What could we do? As we left the scene, we could hear the sirens… the first fire engine was coming off the highway and on its way. We jumped in our boats and finished the charter.

   Back in Town, the fire was already the buzz topic at the Wagon Wheel. It had consumed 1300 acres, no injuries, just a bunch of burnt grass and toasted rocks. The volunteer fire department did a great job with limited resources… they only had two out-dated fire engines and a pumper.

   No one seemed to know how it started.
A couple guides from the other fly shop were giving me and Skeeter the stink-eye from across the bar. I walked over to them,

“Whats’ up?” I asked.

“Did you float today?”

“Yessir.”

“Did you see the fire?”

“Yessir.”

“How did it start?”

“Not sure.”

“Did you guys start it?”

“No… it wasn’t us, bro, but I think I know.”

 

   I remembered seeing one boat leaving the fire scene that caught my eye …it had a large rainbow peace sign logo on the bow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNDERCOVER FISHING GUIDE 3

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on Wednesday, 15 March 2017
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   Corky Furillo and I run a lot of guide trips together. He is a solid dude, 5’10”, 210, all muscle and spends a lot of time in the gym. His hair is dark and he wears it in a pony tail which he sometimes braids. He sports a Metallica tat on his left bicep. He is a flannel shirt and jeans kind of guy.

 

   After Iraq, Corky decided to become a fishing guide. We run trips together over to the Yellowstone and few on the spring creeks and lakes but mostly around the Madison. All in all, Corky is a loyal friend and a great guy to fish with but he has a couple problems.

 

   He has flashbacks.

   And he likes to fight.

   One afternoon, after a half day charter, me and Corky stopped by the Wagon Wheel for a few brewskys and some pool. As usual, there were a few drift boats parked out front on trailers behind pick-ups…blue, green, red, yellow and one all white with a large rainbow colored peace sign logo stenciled on the bow.

   Some of the other fishing guides were already getting tuned up inside…T-Bird, Skeeter and One Fly were in the bar…and over at the pool table was Rachel shooting eight ball with Shawn.

   “Legs” by ZZ Top was blasting out over the speakers

   Rachel Kenworthy is a knockout 5’9” raven haired beauty…tall and curvy and delicious. Long, straight, coal black hair, either parted in the middle or pulled straight back (it doesn’t matter), perfectly framing her dark bedroom eyes and full lips the color of Flathead cherries. How she squeezes into those skin tight Levi’s nobody knows but everybody wants to find out. She favors Hopi silver and turquoise jewelry…the expensive, Santa Fe, NM type…gifts from her fans. This day she was rockin’ a black lace bustier top that said it all.

 

   Shawn is a tall, handsome Alan Jackson look- alike with long blonde hair and a bushy stash. He runs a successful cow/calf/hay operation south of Town.

Shawn is a friend of ours.

   At the end of the bar by the pool table me and Corky noticed two of the newer fishing guides yakking it up over craft beers. They were both dressed alike; same hipster “Rip Lips” fishing caps worn backwards, exact same earth tone, long sleeve t-shirts with “Fly Fishermen Have Longer Rods” silk screened on the back. Both were in their early twenties, male-model slim, facial hair perfectly groomed and trimmed. Justin Timberlake would be jealous.    

   We learned from Smitty the bartender their names were Niles and Jeremy (nickname “J-Dawg”) and they were from “back east”. It was their first summer on the river and they had been spending a lot of time at the Wagon Wheel, drinking brews and tequila shots, hitting on chicks and weaseling fishing information from the guides.

   It was obvious the lads had been in the bar a while. Me and Corky watched them whoop and holler after every pool shot, and when Rachel bent low to try the five ball in the corner pocket, they both high-fived her cleavage.

   When “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple came on over the speakers, the one kid, Jeremy, who was drunk and getting drunker, stumbled over to Rachel and asked her to dance.

   She didn’t want to.

   “J-Dawg” insisted.

   When he grabbed her arm and twisted it, Rachel had had enough and she threw a haymaker bitch-slap catching Jeremy on the left ear and spun him around. “J-Dawg” yelled “owie” and his buddy Niles jumped on Rachel’s back, grabbing her by the hair. Cowboy Shawn had seen enough and jerked the kid off Rachel and threw him to the floor. Shawn never saw Jeremy coming at him from the blind side as he sucker punched him with a dead soldier bottle of Trout Slayer beer over the cowboy’s head with a loud CRACK!

   Then Niles picked up a pool cue and took a vicious swipe at Rachel just nicking her right ear, sending a turquoise earring flying across the barroom.

   By this time Corky had seen enough and moved in for the kill. First he grabbed Niles by the back of the neck, pinned him to the pool table, and pounded his head into the felt six or eight times, bouncing his dome off the slate till his eyeballs crossed and his cheeks turned green. Niles passed out with his head near the side pocket.

   A couple from San Francisco sitting at the bar fumbled with their camera phone getting ready to video the fight so they could post it on “Snapchat.” T-Bird and One Fly moved over to discourage them.

   Then Corky found Jeremy cowering under the pool table, picked him up by the belt buckle, took off one of his Tevas and slapped him upside the head with the sole of the sandal till “J-Dawg” started to cry. His face turned the color of a strawberry daquiri.

 

 

   Corky waved me over and I grabbed Jeremy by one leg, drug him across the floor, out the front door of the Wagon Wheel and deposited him on the sidewalk. Niles wasn’t so lucky, Corky had him in a head lock and was squeezing so hard his eyeballs began to pop. And then Corky launched ole Niles out through the front door to join his buddy.

 

   “Do yourselves a favor, boys and don’t come back in here acting all “back east”, said Corky. “This ain’t a college frat party, this is Montana. When a woman says no she means no! Have a nice day.”

  

   Smitty got a cold bar rag with some ice for Shawn’s noggin.

   After the place settled down, me and Corky and Shawn and Rachel sat down at the bar and joined T-Bird and One Fly and Skeeter. I bought a round for the whole crew while the jukebox was playing “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

 

   It was a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNDERCOVER FISHING GUIDE 2

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on Monday, 13 March 2017
The Snag Hole 0 Comment

The Crew…

 

   Undercover Fishing Guide…6’2”, 210…light brown hair, Acme cowboy boots, Stetson cowboy hat, Carhartt vest, Lee jeans. Born and raised in Two Dot, Montana...been fishing everywhere, guided fisherman everywhere, has caught every species of North American game fish that matters including musky, northern pike, walleye, chain pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, Atlantic and Pacific salmon, both sailfish, tuna, wahoo, rainbow, brown, brook, golden, cutthroat, lake and bull trout, steelhead, grayling, bonefish, tarpon, permit, redfish, snook, black, blue, white and striped marlin and assorted other species including frogs, toads, turtles, catfish, bottom fish, carp, suckers and lots of other trash fish…he can cast a fly, lure, spoon, spinner, plug, jig, live bait, dead bait, stink bait, cut bait, jerk bait, deep drop, shallow troll, surface skitter, walk the dog, spank the monkey, dead drift, fast strip, slow twitch, tumble, tease or just plain sit there and let ‘er eat.

 

   He went undercover in the early 1990s.

 

Skeeter… the top guide, first call on all the guide trips, strong on the oars, gets all the plum clients, loved by everybody.

  

Corky Furillo… tough as nails, Iraq war vet, became a fishing guide to help deal with PTSD, wears camo fly fishing vest, sometimes packs heat, eats glass.

 

Windex…neat freak, clothes, boat, trailer truck are all immaculate, only river guide who waxes his drift boat with Carnuba.

 

T-Bird… little short guy with beer belly, candy apple red pick-up, hand painted palm trees on his drift boat, wears Jimmy Buffet shirts, plays guitar, sings badly, good guide for group float trips and shore lunch entertainment.

 

Junior…smokes dope 24/7, been to rehab multiple times, skinny little dude, nose ring, wears bandana for head band, blank stare, decent fishing guide if he can remember what river he is on.

 

One Fly… only uses #8 Prince nymph, medium weighted, 2X, no bead, no dropper, no bobber, rows homemade wood boat.

 

Lonnie McMaster… tall, thin, bad teeth, bad skin, rolls his own, curly red hair, knows the Latin name of every insect eaten by trout.

 

Jenny… ties flies, sells strawberry pies, breeds labs, runs fly fishing school for lady anglers.

 

Huey Short…good old boy, chubby, happy, gets along with everybody, in a bowling league during winter, redneck.

 

Doc… crusty old guide, has one client left, claims to have slept with Madonna back when they were kids in Detroit, wears suspenders, neoprene Hodgemans, drinks Crown & Seven.

 

Wally Livingston…owns Wally’s Fly Shop… odd duck, has a tick, tells stories.

 

 

Smitty…bartender at the Wagon Wheel Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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