My Fly Fishing Family - Part 4
My first experience with a drift boat was on the Androscoggin River. After meeting up with some fellas, I got the invite from Tim to join him for an Andro outing. Tim, Steve and myself met up early in the morning and got right to it.
I've never seen too many easy access points to put a drifty into the Andro. You've pretty much got to work for it every time. This guy, Steve, had a new (to him, at least) Hyde and Tim was going to give him some pointers. Steve hauled his boat to the river with his Honda Element (aka Toaster). When we didn't see any boat access on our side of the river, we got creative. We ended up driving across a railroad trestle to get to the only access point we could find. Steve took it like a pro. We were in the water and on our way.
Fishing was phenomenal with everyone landing fish. Tim and Steve too the sticks while I worked on my new angling skills. After a few hours, we came to a dam and had to take out. That was the easiest boat access point of the day. We trailered the boat and hit the road, but we weren't done yet. We made our way down river to the next put in.
The guardrail wasn't that tall. It was about level with the boat on the trailer and drift boats don't weigh that much, do they? On the other side of the rail was a 150 foot "trail" at about a 45 degree slope. We roped up the front of the boat, slid her over the rail and lowered her down. About ten feet into the lowering, the boat picked up some speed and made her way down to the river unaided. Thankfully the hull was strong and no damage was done.
When we took out at 8:30 that night, I was so tired. My hand was cramped from holding a 6wt all day. We took out the boat at the most brutal ramp possible, and I went home to pass out.
I lost touch with Steve not long after that day, but Tim remained a trusted mentor for many years. We fished a few times, and shared some beers and good laughs. One of my favorite days on the water was with him on the Connecticut River. We fished a 90- degree day in his drift boat going after smallies. I was still a rookie angler and my cast left something to be desired - actually, it still does. He was at the sticks with me in the front. "Cast right there!", he shouted. I threw my line and as he made fun of my choice of casting direction, I hooked into a massive smallie. "Not too bad", was his compliment.
I haven't heard from Tim for a while. We share some mutual friends in Colorado and whenever I fish in a boat I think of him. Every time I see a picture of Tim, I chuckle - he wears a gold bracelet on his wrist and you can spot it in every grip n' grin shot of him.
I hope Tim is rippin' some lips as I write this.