A Memorable Disaster

Apparently technical wear isn’t in vogue in Southern Missoura. I know that because as my skin cancer conscious father and I – ensconced in nearly identical blue, hooded Patagonia sunshirts – navigated through a prolific tube hatch on the Eleven Point River, we were greeted by an armada of shirtless, sun-soaked anglers slinging witty shade. “Hot damn, it’s the Blue Man Group” and “Oh sheet, we found ourselves some smurfs!” Or my personal favorite, “You boyz look like a coupla’ goddam Trojans!” I assumed he was referring to condoms and not ancient warriors from Troy.

We were told the Eleven Point River, which snakes through the Mark Twain National Forest, would be our best bet for solitude and solid trout fishing within striking distance of my hometown Memphis. But before we even set foot in the spring-fed stream, our shuttle driver Caleb, who sported a dip-filled lip and a perfect Missoura twang, summarily dashed that hope with one story.

As we rumbled down a raucous national forest road in his white, rapey van, my dad asked Caleb if he’s been busy. He flatly responded, “Gotta lotta folks out here these days enjoyin’ the river. Last week we hadda coupla guys out for a bachelor party. They got stupid drunk and started havin’ a sword fight with som’ machetes. One of em’ hacked the other’s leg pretty darn good, right down to the freakin’ bone. They pour’d Vodka on it, stuck one of em’ machetes in the fire, downed a bit mora’ the hard stuff, and seared his goddamn leg shut. I bet that sombitch wished they wouda’ just gone to a strip club.”

As I sat there mouth agape, trying to wrap my head around this Civil War era medical procedure, my dad leaned over and with a wry smile whispered, “I think this weekend may be a little more of an adventure than we anticipated.” It proved to be a prophetic statement as our intended uneventful, trout-filled canoe trip slowly morphed into a full-blown, floating fiasco. Or as one friend put it, a fly fishing country song.

My girl didn’t leave me, my dog didn’t die, and my truck didn’t break down – in all fairness I had none of those things – but seemingly everything else went awry. We caught no fish, got swarmed by incessant bugs, melted in our sweat lodge of a tent, surgically removed a hook from my back, and got our canoe lodged – sideways and half submerged – against a strainer. What followed was a moderately successful half-hour rescue mission in which we salvaged our canoe but lost our rods, my prescription Costas, our cooler with all of our water/food, a paddle, my dad’s never-worn Patagonia waders, and one of his new wading boots, which somehow came dislodged from his foot – I still have no clue how that happened.

Thirty hours after launching and three grand poorer, we emerged from the last rapid and pointed our canoe toward the takeout. My now one-shoed father turned around and chirped, “Well that was a memorable disaster. But hey it could’ve been worse!” I chuckled and asked, “Oh yeah, how’s that?” And with a sly smile he quipped, “Have you ever seen the movie Deliverance?”

** Oh and in case you were wondering, these photos are not from this disastrous trip. They’re actually from another fishing trip with my pops that also featured a prolific tube hatch of Keystone aficionados. We didn’t get any good shots from this memorable disaster of a trip because both my cameras died right before we headed out for the river…

2 thoughts on “A Memorable Disaster

  1. Damn it, man! I’d have gone in any of the mental disorders if I were in your place having a journey like this! But, yes it could have gone worse. So, don’t get hurt. Especially when you have an awesome dad who goes fishing with ya.

    I’m kinda jealous in this case. ha ha.

  2. Well I’m sorry to hear that “Moldy Chum” and his father didn’t find the perfect trout experience at Eleven Point River. As for cancer conscious sun wear not being in vogue here in Missoura, we just might be a little behind the fishing fashion scene. This past year I’ve just starting to see more of the sunscreen bandanas being worn. Personally my idea of sun wear is a hat and SPF 50 Coppertone.
    I’m also sorry to hear that Chum and his dad lost some pretty expensive equipment. Even with my low budget fly rod and rented chest waders I will still have them netted down in my canoe to be prepared for the inevitable spill.
    Since Chum’s blog entry was written July 11th, I can assume his trip was near the 4th of July. I avoid all lakes and streams a week before and after that date just because of the influx of “Keystone aficionados” and soon to be ex-bachelors performing field surgery on each other.
    Speaking of drunken men doing extreme things to each other…you can probably find a “Deliverance” experience closer to Chums hometown of Memphis at the Pumping Station Bar so the movie reference just doesn’t work as a description of southern Missoura.
    I will represent the norm of Missouri polite fishing society though and extend a heartfelt apology for the witty shade being thrown. But Chum ol Chum the rest is on you. Poor planning on your part doesn’t make a trout fishing experience bad for others at Eleven Point. From your own words this was your second “fishing trip with my pops that also featured a prolific tube hatch of Keystone aficionados”…..

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