- By: Greg Thomas
I didn’t really think about potential ramifications until I saw a guy from Nevada driving by in my F-150 pickup.
I’d met him and his wife an hour earlier, at a fishing access on a remote creek in southwest Montana. The man caught a couple nice cutthroat trout while a friend of mine, Jaime, and I prepared to launch our Watermasters.
We’d already stashed a mountain bike in the brush five miles downstream so that, at the end of our float, Jaime or I—after what was sure to be a heated contest of roshambo—could ride that bike along an uphill and narrow dead-end road to retrieve the truck. Probably in the dark. Unless . . . .
Still at the access, having spent 15 minutes chatting with the Nevadans, I pulled Jaime aside and said, “What do you think about asking these people to run the shuttle? They could leave our truck at the gas station, just 50 yards from the takeout.”
Jaime, who lives an urban lifestyle in L.A., visualized a five-mile bike ride through bear country, in the dark, and answered, “Good idea?”
We were fishing a mile downstream from the put-in when we heard a horn honk. I looked up from the water and spotted the Nevadans driving by, the gal steering her SUV, the man following behind in my truck. He’d rolled down the window and was slowly waving his arm at us. I think he was wearing a great big grin. That’s when I made a mental tally of just how much I stood to lose if, for any reason, that truck didn’t stop at the gas station and, instead, became the property of some Nevada crime syndicate.
Jaime and I had planned to camp and fish for three days, possibly even in Canada. Inside the truck I’d packed tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, two Yeti coolers full of food, cookware, camp stoves, chairs, a .300 caliber Remington Model 700 rifle, and a half-dozen extra fly rods, reels and lines. Both of our passports were in the glove box. Including the value of the vehicle, plus the contents of my wallet—which I’d left under the front seat—the whole lot was worth at least sixty grand. I turned to Jaime and said, “What do you think that guy was thinking when he honked and waved?”
Jaime smiled and said, “So long, suckers!” Then he shrugged and said, “They won’t go anywhere. You’ve got his business card.”
I frowned and said, “Yeah, but I left it in the truck.”
That evening, right at dark, we pulled our rafts from the water. Jaime fished the bike from the brush while I walked to the gas station. The truck was parked perfectly. The keys were right where I’d asked the Nevadans to leave them. A note on the front seat said, “Great to have met you.” The .300 short-mag was still in its case and all the other gear was safe and sound, too. Wallet? Yes, right under the seat.
I’m sure, over the years, like me, you’ve met an unruly angler or two, people who may have low-holed you or acted like they owned a river. Or maybe you met some fly-tying highbrow who imposed the correct pronunciation of “Trico” on you, or said that your PMD emerger had three more thread wraps than it ought to and, therefore, was trash.
We’ve all met a few fly fishers who drive us mad but, overall, I can’t think of a better community to be part of. I know this: I wouldn’t have left a good portion of my net worth in the hands of strangers if I’d met them on the golf course, or at a tailgate, or even surfing at a remote beach. And I guess, 20-some years into this fly-fishing thing, when people ask if I haven’t, finally, caught enough fish, I just tell them, “It’s not all about the fish.”