by Jimbo Muchacho
It was a long day.
After hours spent crashing through poison ivy, dodging rattle snakes and pretending to hide from temperamental Colorado weather, I was a bit spent. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, to top it all off we had been nymphing with small as in sz 20 and 22 scuds and wd-40’s all day. Once I get toward the sz 18 end of the spectrum my eyes begin to roll and I long for the days where a sz 6 hopper against the bank is all you need. Call me an idealist.
So there I was in the Cheeseman Canyon parking lot, having been baked in the red earth kiln that is the South Platte River through that section. In truth I was more than a little dehydrated and suffering from the all too common L.B.S. (low blood sugar A.K.A. Little Mr. Whinny Pants) Syndrome which seems to be a consistent trend for me on long fishing days. And to be honest, it was an excellent day chasing large rainbows in very technical water. That being said my mood at the time of departure and the catastrophe that resulted, has since, with the blessing of time, shrouded my experience in a layer of tumult that is ultimately more fun to write about.
In my haste to find a gas station with a curative snickers bar, I set my Echo Ion 6wt atop the cap on my truck. I proceeded to delicately swap out my now ivy permeated pants and to let my soggy feet slip around in a dry pair of flip flops. Following my fashion heavy wardrobe change I jumped in the drivers seat and began to speed off in the direction of my supposed salvation. As I broke free from the parking lot, I heard the altogether stomach sinking thud of my dear sweet Ion crashing to the pavement.
Something I need to explain to fully develop the next part of this story is, for those that have never been to Cheesman, that the road to and from is a steep winding canyon with just enough room for two cars to incidentally scrape by as they travel in opposing directions. I mean really tight. Not that we ever want to drive off with any piece of equipment on the top of our car, but if you had to, picture the worst kind of road imaginable and now you have an idea of where this all took place.
So the Ion was just laying there, perpendicular to oncoming traffic at the apex of a blind corner. In an adrenaline fueled stupor I pulled over immediately into a small sliver of pavement, just wide enough to safely fit my truck and clearly marked “Do Not Under Any Circumstance Park Here”. Obviously the author of this sign was not an angler who needed to rescue their favorite fly rod from near guaranteed destruction. I quickly jolted from the truck in a mindless attempt to save the Ion, but as luck would have it I wasn’t quick enough. The soft thrum of a compact hybrid as it barreled down the canyon stopped me in my tracks. I watched as this silver ship of ruin pummeled the poor 6wt. At the time I couldn’t be sure who was in worse shape, the Ion or me. After the driver, totally unaware, continued to glide down the canyon, I raced over, grabbed the rod and haphazardly chucked it in the bed of my truck, now realizing the gravity of where I was parked.
I sped towards the town of Deckers, each second, not knowing the extent of the damage, accumulating into a pile of regret. An eternity (5 minutes) later I pulled over at a convenience store to inspect what I was sure was to be a completely shattered rod. I should have known better, I should never have doubted my sturdy Echo companion. There wasn’t even a scratch.
To the old timers spitting chaw and conversing outside the store, I must have looked to be another kook fly fisherman – frantically inspecting the fly rod, giving it a few stiff shakes and finally laughing out loud at my luck. I was overcome with the kind of relief that soon turns to a supremely casual “yeah I knew it would be fine” stoicism. But that soon dissolved when I realized that the butt and adjoining mid section, due to the impact of the fall, were locked together. There in the parking lot I tried all manner of methods to try to get the pieces apart. By this point the pair who were previously cavorting on the side of an old pick up were now sat at a bench watching me struggle. Maybe they were tired or maybe watching a young knucklehead pry and strain unsuccessfully at something so simple was as amusing as I now assume. Needless to say my fervent attempts to spilt the pieces certainly confirmed any misgivings they may have possessed about the state of my mental health.
Eventually I conceded my efforts and was just content that the rod was largely unscathed. I drove the few hours back to my house, eating multiple stickers on the way. As most of the fishing on the my local river at the time had easy access, I left the rod alone for a few weeks hoping that throwing streamers from the front of a raft might be just what the doctor ordered. But true to form I had, in my irreverence practically welded the pieces together.
Then came the day that my friend asked if I wanted to fish a remote lake that required a few miles of hiking. I suppose I could have left well enough alone and simply hiked in the now three piece rod. But instead I took the invite as an impetus to play surgeon– with vice grips. I’ll spare you the details, just in case there are any readers out there who belong to groups that detest the unethical treatment of fly rods, because I can assure you what ensued was that and more. Remarkably the rod, in its infinite toughness, only bore a few superficial scars after the “procedure”.
In keeping with my thoroughly evidenced poor decision making, I chose to cover the vice grip’s transgressions with a bit of duct tape. After rummaging around the garage I realized the only tape I had was a purple Justin Bieber themed roll, as in it had a bunch of pictures and written confirmation that it was indeed covered with the pop star’s mug, in case there was any doubt. And while the purchase of said roll needs a certifiable explanation, suffice to say it was intended and (trust me) well used as a way to prank a co-workers skis. With no other option I ripped a piece off, trimmed the edges and adhered a strip of the Bieber tape just above the ferule. Guess the joke was on me.
Its been a few years since this happened, but the “Biebs” as one of my friends and fellow guides accurately dubbed the Ion, is still fishing well. A true testament to Echo and the products they make. I wish I could tell you that was the only real incident the Biebs suffered, but as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, it wasn’t, not by a long shot. But those stories will have to wait for another time. Sorry (pun 100% intended).
~ Sean Platt is our latest addition to the Echo Pro Team. Growing up in the High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains with a Forest Ranger for a father, Sean was instilled with a reverence for wild places. This love has inspired him to seek a path that combines his passions with ways to give back to both the people and places that have ultimately shaped him. Having spent seven years as a Wilderness Ranger and Ski Patroller in both the Adirondacks and Colorado, becoming a Fly Fishing Guide was a natural progression and one that continuously inspires him. Sean guides for the Hungry Trout Resort in Wilmington, NY and patrols the slopes of Whiteface Mountain Resort during the winter. He only listens to Bieber on max volume.