Sunday, August 11, 2013

Paul and I Have a Hail of a Day!

If I raised my arms to protect my head, my bare hands were stung. When this became too much and I lowered my arms, my capped and hooded head was then pelted. Soon, I could feel dozens of small bumps on my head and my hands were sore from the beating they were taking. Looking up and down the river from the shelter we had taken under the willows, it appeared that thousands of cherry bombs were exploding. These explosions threw plumes of water from six inches to a foot tall from every square inch of the river's surface. These mini-geysers had long ago put an end to our fishing and now, as the hail ate at the soil on the river bank, our beautiful, clear stream was quickly becoming a frothy chocolate mess. Thick rafts of hail rode in the eddies and blanketed the riverbank. For over an hour, we huddled under the willows trying as best we could to protect ourselves from the onslaught. We didn't dare try to make it back to the car. If the lightning from the storm didn't kill us, once we were in the open, the hail would no doubt flense the flesh from our bodies.

Paul Denison emerges as the storm starts to weaken.

After a few lulls followed by even bigger and more aggressive episodes, finally and thankfully, the storm moved on. We decided to walk back to the car, have a sandwich and see if the river cleared before we gave up on the day. When we got to the car, we could see the road was coated in two inches of pure white ball-bearings. Dozens of bikers, headed to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S. D., were crawling along at 5 miles an hour. As soon as I popped the locks on my car, the sun popped out and the hail quickly began to melt. It wasn’t long before we could hear motorcycle engines roaring back to life.

After finishing our sandwiches, we drove up and down the river trying to find some clear water. Since we were so high up in the drainage, we thought it might not take long to clear. Fishermen are always optimists so we hung in there. We eventually found some water that looked a bit better and decided to give it a try. We tied on big colorful terrestrials that we thought the trout might be able to make out in the muddy water, but we couldn't coax the boys to the surface. We then converted to a hopper/dropper rig, but it was also ineffective. Eventually, towards dusk, the water cleared enough that we did manage to catch a few small fish on a large Adams thus doing nothing more than proving we could. But, it was a beautiful evening. Fog hung in the pines and a cool breeze slithered down the valley. I'm glad we stuck around even if only for the smallish trout we caught.

“Too bad about the hail.” Paul said. “We had it going for awhile with those hatches before the storm killed it.” 
Then he added, “Really, it's not too bad. The storm was amazing, we did catch some fish, and you still have your windshield!”

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