Tales of Oregon

Fishing with Dogs – Part 3

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 - 6:17 PM

Young Parker the English Shepherd puppy has demonstrated no real talent for fishing, so I brought home Connor, the Australian Shepherd puppy…

Okay, you caught me.  The real story is that I wanted two pups when I found Parker but a second English Shepherd pup wasn’t available, and not wanting to wait six months for the next known litter in all of Oregon, I found Connor.

Parker was born “Parker” but Connor was born “Patriot” and after giving his name a lot of thought, I chose “Connor” – the surname of one of one of the Irish boys on the first ship from England to the Botany Bay penal colony in Australia.

Yesterday (Thursday) I was to meet my fishing companion at a remote ramp to give the upper reaches of his favorite river a go for salmon.  It’s a nice enough river, scenic and all, and once upon a time when we’d fished there we found ourselves harassed by salmon – and not your common everyday salmon, but big salmon, like Grandpa used to catch.  Salmon surrounded us and seemed to be getting a special glee from leaping right next to our kayaks, challenging us to try to catch one with our light smallmouth and cutthroat fly rods – which of course we did, but in the end, we paddled away without a single salmon in the boat, trailed by salmon still leaping and calling us names.

Last year we tried catching salmon in that section of the river several times, properly equipped of course, and watched salmon after salmon leaping and rolling just out of casting range.  I don’t credit salmon as being particularly clever fish, but the salmon in this river seem to have a knack for aggravating me, and it seems to be intentional – and well organized – piscatorial harassment.

So yesterday we were going to try it again.  We fly-fishers are nothing if we’re not gluttons for punishment.

I load everything except my battery the day before a planned fishing trip, and Wednesday was no exception.  Thursday came and I woke up early, around 3:00AM, to do a little work on my weblog, only to find the internet was down.  Not the entire internet, I guess, just the part I connect to.  Not only that, but my phone service, provided by the cable company who also provides my internet access, wasn’t working, either, nor was my cable service – no early morning re-runs of “The Andy Griffith Show” to put me in the mood for fishing.

That’s odd, but not tragic, and without anything useful to keep me occupied, I sorted through my fly boxes one more time, searching for that perfect fly that would, at last, let me bring home a salmon.  I found a couple flies worth taking, headed out to the truck to drop them in with the other flies I was taking and stopped in my tracks.

“Hmm?  That’s not my salmon rod in the back seat, that’s the pole I use for trout.  Good thing the cable and internet are offline or I might not have noticed.”

Folks, that’s the exact moment in time when my fishing trip went straight to hell, because when I went inside to change rods, and picked up the rod tube for my 9wt, it felt curiously light in my hand because the rod wasn’t in it!

Parker and Connor are a band of thieves.  A couple of weeks ago, they snatched the remote controllers for the TV and the cable box from my bedroom and I haven’t seen them since.  They’re also quite fond of taking one of my shoes – always the left shoe – out in the backyard if I absent-mindedly shut, but don’t latch, the closet door.  I have three or four missing socks, too, and I’m sure they’re all left socks.  I brought a crime wave to town when I brought these boys home.

However, I keep my fishing gear in the extra bedroom suite built off the garage – fly rods cost more than shoes, socks, and remote controllers combined – and The Boys had only been in that bedroom twice in their entire, short lives, so when, I wondered, might they have leaped up on the bed and made off with a fly rod without me seeing it?  Nonetheless, having searched in all the obvious places where I might have put a fishing pole after washing the saltwater off, I was left with one conclusion – it was the Parker-Connor Mob.

They use an opening at the back of a flower bed to get under the back porch and deck, where they keep their stash, so, yesterday morning, at 4:05AM, there I was, shimmying around under the porch – where I’d never been before – looking for my fly rod.  It wasn’t there – nor did I find the remote controllers – but I did find a couple of old bones, an empty milk carton, and one sock.

My back-up plan was to call my fishing partner and ask him to bring along a second rod I could borrow, just in case my rod didn’t show up in time.  I’m sure everyone remembers that the internet was down – no emails, and the phone wasn’t working – no voice messages.

“Aha!  Use that iPhone thing you carry around but never use!” except, to my surprise, the screen kept shouting “No Service” at me.  That’s very odd, since, every so often, I look at my iPhone to see what time it is when I’m not wearing my watch and too lazy to get up and check the clock on the microwave oven, and when I pick up that iPhone, it always shows five glowing bars of signal strength.  Glowing so brightly, I might add, that if there were a sixth bar, I’m sure it would be brightly lit, too.

No phone, no internet, no cellular service, and no fly rod.  No one had to hit me over the head with a stick more than two or three times before I realized I was not going fishing yesterday.  Sadly, I had no way to warn my fishing partner that I wasn’t going to show up.

And oh, it was a lovely day.  Not at all chilly.  Not a breeze to cool me down – I was feeling mighty aggravated, you know.  And no Andy Griffith re-runs to make me feel better about myself.  When Goober Pyle is in an episode, it always reminds me I’m not as big a doofus as I often fear I must be.

When the sun came up, I started a more thorough search of the backyard, and on the second circumnavigation, I spotted a shiny mylar banner – one that I tie on my cherry trees to keep the birds from eating all my cherries – partially visible under a bush.  The bush is part of a line of shrubbery of unknown heritage that grows along the fence line.  Ms. Barbara – may her ashes rest in peace – nurtured those shrubs, but I mostly ignore them, except when I’m mowing the lawn and feel grateful I don’t have to wrangle the lawnmower up against that part of the fence.

Anyway, I went after that mylar strip before Parker and Connor found it and ate it.  I wasn’t happy with them, and the last thing I wanted was to find cheery little glittery piles of puppy poo in the yard.

But when I tugged the mylar out from under the shrubbery, it brought with it, still in its protective sleeve, wet but otherwise unscathed, my fly pole.

Obviously, The Boys were planning to run down the hill to the creek out back and do a bit of fishing, and just like all novice fly-fishers, they were planning to use a fly that was too big and too flashy.

How you might ask, is this about fishing with dogs since no fishing was involved?

It isn’t, but it our tale – Parker’s, Connor’s and mine – and we get to name it any way we want.