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Fall ‘Mancation’ season begins with trip up the 108

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POSTED September 1, 2009 10:34 p.m.
A car fire on the Sonora bypass forced me to shoot my buddy Nate in the back of the head with the infrared laser on my rangefinder on Friday.

He was 14 yards in front of me, on the road turned parking lot. Some dude in the other lane looked quizzically at my shameless daytime car-stalking. I didn’t have time to explain that I knew the guy I was peeping, and that it was a rangefinder, not a set of stalk-ulars.

Some might reckon the whole situation would qualify as a sour start to the first English Department “Mancation” of the fall. But being we were headed to the mountains to fish, camp and burn stuff, traffic was tolerated.  

That night around a pot of boiling brats, we one-upped each other with stories of combo classes, overcrowding and overall disbelief with regards to the beginning of the year.

It’s never cool to talk about work while in search of wilderness catharsis, but sometimes the release valve must be tended.

Saturday morning, I woke up at first light since there was essentially nothing blocking the sun from giving me its gentle nudge to get out of the truck bed and fish.

Nate popped his head out of his tent, growled something, laughed and disappeared. The other three were still zipped in the four-man tent on the other side of camp.

I fished for a little bit, then walked back up the hill to find the other guys preparing massive amounts of decaffeinated coffee (an unbelievably huge error on the purchasers part) and instant oatmeal.

We hit the river mid-morning.  

This will make me sound way more snobbish than I intend, but when I ordered my Simms waders from a fly shop in Montana, I ordered a couple flies as well.

So yeah, I fished the Stanislaus with flies I special ordered from a fly shop 1,000 miles away. Even better, is that since that one fly (not available at Bass Pro) worked, and I caught nothing but good-sized fish, that put me on the positive side of the idiot/genius spectrum. That doesn’t happen a whole lot.

It was warm, so I left my waders at home and enjoyed the cool river and hot sun fighting to make me feel uncomfortable.

With my buddies using dry flies, I decided to go the wet route for comparison. I had both, and if they hooked up more than me, it would be an easy switch. We came to a bend and a downed tree stuck in a deep pool. I stayed there to fish near my buddy that got a new anterior cruciate ligament to keep his tibia from moving forward a couple weeks ago from some dude.

Though his mobility is improving, he couldn’t make the long hike, so I stayed close to the road so he could watch me dip my Montana Special into areas I’d hang out if I was a fish that felt like having its mouth ripped.

After a morning filled with dropping the Montana Special by logs, and fighting confused fish, we reconvened. It felt like much of the afternoon had been spent. My Timex whispered it was only 1:17.

Sun-beaten and dehydrated, we half-heartedly fished back at camp for a couple more hours.

We tossed six cans of extra beefy Stagg Chili with green chiles into the not-so-clean brat pot even though we weren’t particularly hungry. I was even happier I was sleeping in the bed of my truck and not sharing a tent.

On the way down the hill, I was reminded of an Alaskan law that requires slower moving vehicles to pull over if more than a few cars stacked up behind. I couldn’t remember if it was four, or five, but the point was, if you are going 32 miles per hour and motorists are unable to pass and you don’t pull over, a ticket is coming.

I guess the Mancation nearly ended as it started, but without the rangefinder.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail

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