Underground Entertainment

The Underground Puts The "Man" Back In Fly Fisherman

Posted by Tom Chandler 6/24/2012

Almost two weeks ago the Swift Water Rescue Team was called to a rescue on the Financial section of the Upper Sacramento, which turned out to be a fly fisherman who bent or broke his ankle.

Rather than drag him back across the river, they winched him up to a hovering helicopter and flew him to Redding.

Now I read about a Colorado angler who broke his leg and found himself stranded for six days on a remote stream until rescued.

We're concerned.

Whatever happened to the days of yore, when "fly fisherman" still had "man" in it?

When you could sever your spinal cord while fishing a remote backcountry stream, yet drag yourself out of the wilderness (all uphill through snow drifts) on the bloodied stumps of your fingers, fighting off a pack of rabid grizzlies with only your clippers and a spare spool of tippet?

Rescue? We don't need no stinkin' rescue (include your least believable self-rescue story below).

Let's be careful out there, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

22 comments
One day I was in a fishing charter on the Niagra River when the motor went out on the boat. We began drifting very quickly towards Niagra Falls. We tried throwing down an anchor but it wasn't heavy enough. Luckily we were able to paddle towards the shore. Fortunately there was a fat man on the boat and I was able wedge my boot into his neck and leap to safety. Unfortunately, I fell in some briars ... more and was busy picking them out when the people on the boat threw me a line. It all ended well, I got the briars out and I think I heard everyone on the boat went over the falls but the boat company was fully insured. Later I just laughers to myself.
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Saving some of these idiots robs them of the chance to learn (and allowing them to survive to breed robs the species of the chance to further evolve). "Stupid should hurt" as a ranger in the nat'l forest said.
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JP2: was going to “look” Look?? Even we can't suspend our disbelief that far...
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The "now lifeless legs" was an excellent touch, as was the zombie-esque loss of your arm. Unfortunately we were forced to report you to fish & game for the whole eating protected river otters thing. Sorry.
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Extra points for name dropping.
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JP2: Faux Arts Country Decor Cutesy Village!!! There is a special section in hell named Faux Arts Country Decor Cutesy Village, so I am going to be a good boy.
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WOW! These are Gripping Yarns!!! Speaking of which....was going to "look" at a local fly shop when the wifey said she wanted to go too....I ignored the suddenly ominous violin music that appeared and said"Sure,Honey!" As we drove past black cats and under ladders,I wondered about the flocks of crows and why the morning sky was so red....As I rounded the corner the wifey squeals (no,I wasn't coming ... more from third base and going home) " It's Faux Arts Country Decor Cutesy Village!!! Let's stop!!!....now" The last word was said in a gruff bass tone,sorta drowned out by the thunder rolling down from the clear sky.." No Prob,babe, I'll just drop ya here and be back in an hour..." "Nooooooo" intoned the writhing Lovecraftian shape beside me...." I want you to .....(lighting flash) GO SHOPPING WITH MEEEEEE (loud crack of thunder,followed by dead birds falling from the clouds) " Aint happening,my sweet, it's.....MY BIRTHDAY, BWWHAHAHAHA....so catch ya later" She got out,I went and bought some #12 hooks and tippet and thread,came back and found some great fuzzy yarn and glass beads at one of the girly spots she was in and got a beer on the way home.
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Fishing late on a winter afternoon on a unusually warm January day I was unaware that the rising water had cracked off shelf ice all along the river. I started to see small bergs but was awoken to the true danger when I happened a glance upstream and notices a slab of ice the size of a 1950 Buick coming towards me. I waded as fast as I could to streamside but it was too late, I was bowled over by ... more this careening berg and plunged into the cold water. Everything went black. When I awoke I was trapped below an undercut bank jammed solid with rapidly refreezing ice debris. Only my upper torso was free of the icy grip in the air pocket created by the bank's ledge. I spent the next three weeks trapped in the pocket entertaining myself by singing sea shanties and carving ice netsuke with my nippers. Fortunately a river otter burrow was in this bank and when they emerged to hear my shanties I would seize them, wring their little necks and enjoy some weasel sushi. I fashioned their pelts into a fine cap. A brief thaw in February allowed me to escape the grip of the ice. I snapped off my now lifeless legs and free of their dead weight was able to pull myself up the bank. In the eddy where I had been trapped a pod of trout rose vigorously to a fine midge hatch. Lacking a rod I took a streamside reed, added three yards of 5x tippet and cast a gnat into the frothing water Tenkara style. I immediately hooked a large brown and while my improvised gear held the gangrenous wasting of my casting arm caused me to lose the whole rig and three fingers during the battle. Utterly disgusted with my angling performance I crawled several hundred yards back to the main road and thumbed a ride home.
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Lefty, Jay and I had hiked in 50 miles with 200 pound packs - split between them was Jay's weight set and a gallon of whiskey apiece so we could relax with some bench presses and highballs around the campfire. We were young and tough, ate what we killed, but when the fishing died down in the heat of the day we would arrange wild flowers or have an impromptu poetry reading under a shade tree, so we ... more were sensitive as well. Lefty was a "naturalist" which led to unique fly fishing injuries that were hard to explain away at his job as a nude art model. They didn't call him Lefty for nothing let's just say. As Lefty was doing his morning jumping jacks he was attacked and mauled by a mountain lion. I ran from the river, fly rod in hand, and whacked the poor creature about the head with my 5 weight. At the same time Jay jumped on his back. The cougar reared and with one swipe tore my face off. Jay rode the bucking cat into the sunset never to be heard from again. I, faceless and Lefty, needing a new nickname, just managed to hike back in to catch the season premier of Ally McBeal. We never went to the hospital - people found me handsome faceless and Lefty got all chubby and docile - never went fishing again.
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Thinking, I dropped the knife, and cast to a 16-20 lb rainbow, caught it, hurled it to to other side of the dock and pulled myself back to the dock. I still can't straighten that finger out (true)
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Punahele: I whipped out my sharp Buck 110 knife storey to be continued later wife yelling about dog throwing up Stubby will be back with the rest of his story shortly...
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True story I was fly fishing the Fall River, my battery was running low on my trolling motor, barely reached the Cal Trout Dock, I was wearing prescription sunglasses that were 10 years out of date. I grabbed the dock as my my last volt ran out. Somehow I jamed my middle finger between two planks and it was stuck. As I dropped my beer I realized I was in serious shit. The wind pushed my bow out and ... more my finger kept rotating in its stationary position. My left hand was on the other side of boat. I whipped out my sharp Buck 110 knife storey to be continued later wife yelling about dog throwing up
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Close, but what kind of manly pulp writer equips himself with a machete in order to battle crocs? It's just too easy -- a real pulp writer would be forced to defend himself with a dull fishhook or the sharp edge of a plastic bag. Also consider actually going over the falls. It's more dramatic, and there's the possibility of clothes being rendered, if you catch my drift.
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Some time ago I was fishing the Nile for the ferocious Nile Perch with my 22 wt Spey rod. I had just hooked into a monster of at least 35 feet when I heard weak cries for help. Pausing in my battle, I discerned a human shape across the crocodile infested river, clinging to a log being swept downriver. Knowing the 1000 foot falls were a mere 100 yards away, I abandoned my rod and dove into the river. ... more As I swam, the crocs were homing in on me. I battled them with my machete as I continued to swim toward the person clinging to the log. As I reached the log, the hand clinging to the log let go. I dove with all my might and grabbed the descending hand. I fought for the surface, hauling my human cargo in a desperate attempt to reach life giving air. As I broke the surface, the falls were mere feet away, being swept over would be a certain death sentence. I swam for my life, reaching the far shore just inches before being swept over the fearsome drop. I hauled my charge onto the bank, noticing for the first time the curves and full swell of bosom, I had saved a woman. Her eyes opened, and the rest is for a different type of blog!
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You travel back in time yet expect us to believe you didn't engage in combat with a single carnivorous dinosaur? Or meet even one hot cavebabe wearing a fur bikini? What do you take us for -- fools? I'm gripped in the razor-sharp claws of despair; have the Undergrounders never read pulpy outdoor writing?
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A couple of years ago I came to the conclusion Tarpon didn't grow large enough. So I invented a time machine to go back to the Cretacious, and get me a couple of 300-pounders. On arrival I found out my licence was expired. Damn!
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Heart-stopping stuff. "Trade Show Salespeople Ripped My Flesh" would be an instant best seller.
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Sully: Hopping across a small channel my right knee cratered- couldn’t put any weight on it at all. I think you could have told me this story before I started letting you fish my fav fly rods...
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Tim; Immediate disqualification for being: 1) Believable 2) Not about you 3) Not a great big made up lie. Try again.
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I once wandered into no-man's land at a sportsman's show - the aisle that runs between a couple of major tackle and rod dealers. There I was, surrounded by hungry, aggressive salesmen ready to devour the tiny remainder of available credit I had! Then, just as I was about to flip out the Diner's Club card for the latest Orvlamloomisage ultra-titanium 5.5 weight, my wife showed up brandishing a menacing ... more scoul honed from years of marriage to a trout bum. All the salesmen scattered back to their booths. It was close...
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As Chandler well knows I was issued defective bowed knees at birth and then multiple bouts with gravity made things even worse, Flat Creek autumn of 2002. Hopping across a small channel my right knee cratered- couldn't put any weight on it at all. I pulled myself to a good viewpoint next to a small pool awaiting recovery or rescue. Neither came, but I did manage to catch a few cutts on a PT nymph ... more and found a dandy parachute hopper in the grass. At dusk I had to low crawl all the way back to the parking lot; maybe a quarter mile. Simms didn't bat an eye at repairing the million little points of light the crawl created.
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Fishing Putah Creek near Winters, CA. Cries of help interrupt a pleasant afternoon working a small hole in some pretty heavy water. An empty canoe goes by and I wade out to retrieve a very large woman, and two of her relatives. Push her up and over the bank, retrieve the canoe, leave it in the meadow, drive them all to the Rangers Station down the road. Ranger looked at me and we both just laughed.
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