It was about an hour drive to the access point for which I would spend the next hour descending into a desolate canyon that is so steep if you were to fall you may very well end up down in the river. An hour hike down hill is a 2 hour 40 minute walk out.
I parked the car in an open area so if Search and Rescue needed to be called in to find me they would have at least a starting point. I grabbed my gear and turned on my head lamp. This is one of the greatest inventions ever; an LED light that clips to the bill of your hat. Think of it as a flash-light hat.
Next I marked my car with my GPS unit, as you don’t ever what to lose your car in the woods. Especially after one of the toughest hikes of your life.
I put on my back pack filled with spinners, in colors of gold and silver, with feathers and without. In the dark of night I grabbed my rod and began walking as if the river was pulling me in a straight line to itself.
Just in case your electronics fail, take along some sidewalk chalk and mark trees and rocks. Make sure you mark the down hill side, so when you are walking up hill you will see it right away. Much like Hansel and Gretel did with bread crumbs, just hope you don’t end up in as much trouble as they did. Also, when walking down hill try and walk side to side in standard switch back fashion. It will keep most of the pressure off your knees and put it all on your thighs and calves. If you are in great physical condition take a walk on the wild side. If you are still working on your conditioning, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and fish for the planters near Sour Grass and Boards Crossing.
About 30 minutes into my down hill trek, I hear it, one of the most beautiful sounds any trout fisherman can hear on the last Saturday in April. The sound is rushing water. I still have 30 minutes to the river’s edge, so I keep my pace steady and sure so I don’t fall. The sky was still and dark as when I left my car near Ganz Meadow.
Walking in the dark in bear country is about as ominous as you can imagine. Every sight is a bear and every sound is a bear, I keep my bear whistle close and I often talk to myself. I’m not sure what would happen if I surprise a bear in the dark. But I have seen a few national geographic shows that tell me nothing good will come of it.
When I reach the edge of the river, my heart is racing as I have had over a year to think about “the Stan” and catching one of it's large wild browns.
When it’s still a little dark outside I like to start with a dark brown spinner with a gold blade as the sky lightens so do my lure colors. I tie on the brown and gold spinner to my four pound line and make my first cast of the season. My line snaps as “my favorite little spinner” flies into the darkness and never returns.
I re-string my eyelets and I notice, I didn’t put on new line. I had the same old line I fished with last season. It was brittle and sun-beaten.
I took off my backpack looking for a new spool of line, any would do, and had no luck . I always keep a back up reel in my back pack for just this type of situation. I have made some very big mistakes in my life but none seemed as big as this one. I knew I had an almost three hour walk straight up hill, all without a wild “Stan “brown to keep my mind off of the burning of my legs.
The take away from this article is, if you are taking a very long walk, be prepared with a back up reel and change your fishing line a few times through out the year. I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.