|"The Fish Journal"
Issaquah Press, Published October 22, 2008
By Dallas Cross
Gerry and Cozette Crossing Warm River
September, having just past, brought
remembrance of traditional fishing vacations to Idaho to try the
trout streams near the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Just after
Labor Day my wife, Gerry, and I would load up the car with gear,
supplies and our dog, Cozette, a large standard poodle of unlimited
energy. We would make a two day drive to Ashton, Idaho where our
cousins maintain their old homestead ranch house for recreation near
the Wyoming border. The ranch is conveniently within a few minutes
drive from Fall River and Henry’s Fork where we fly fish for
rainbow and brown trout.
This year we didn’t make the trip,
partly because Cozette recently passed away and partly because of gas
prices and other distractions. I looked forward to the trips not
only to catch the trout in the streams and rivers, but to also be a
voyeur on the bank watching my wife cast her fly in the current under
the poodle’s constant attention. Gerry is singular in her
concentration while fishing, and so is the poodle moving its head
with every cast and shivering in expectancy. Cozette would also
survey the water surface, turn her head towards rising trout and then
look back as if to guide her mistress where to cast to the quarry.
The real excitement came when a
beguiled trout took Gerry’s fly and started jumping. With Gerry
yelling and the poodle lunging in the water they would play the trout
near to net. Then the competition of who would be first to grab the
fish began. To screams of, “back Cozy,” both would try to seize
the quarry with swishing net and snapping jaws competing. The result
was that Gerry’s last three trout were knocked off the hook by the
tussle and both came up empty. I was left with a creel full of mirth
that I had to subdue in my consolation of the distraught competitor
with the net. I also had to retrieve the poodle from the river who
was continuing to paw the waters hoping to find the escapee trout.
One September we camped on the Western
edge of Glacier National Park and using our senior U.S. Park passes
fished the Flathead River that flows south from Canada through the
wilds of Montana. Gerry was casting flies on the river with our
poodle at her side. She has a penchant for wearing what I call her
Miss Marples fishing hat and presents an image of a proper, British
lady while fishing.
Watching the lady and her dog I noticed
a canoe round the bend coming down from the untrammeled upper reaches
of the river and carrying two adventurers on a wild river voyage with
their camping gear in water tight bags. Although I could not hear
them, their actions of animation signaled that they had sighted the
strangely dressed lady and attending poodle standing in the middle of
the river in what they thought was untamed wilderness.
The two men in the canoe became calm
upon approach and with courtesy tipped their caps while drifting past
the pair. A bit further downstream I could see them bent over and
observed the canoe rocking in response to their laughter. Gerry, was
nonplussed but a bit slower on her reactions and had to keep several
mountain whitefish that had swallowed the prince nymph fly before she
set the hook in their mouths. Our meal that evening was quite bony,
but very tasty.
Both my wife and I learned to put aside
the occasional inconvenience of loosing a fish from canine
exuberance, untangling a fly from a curly coat of hair, and fielding
glances of dog-disgust over a missed fish strike. They really
mattered naught when put in the context of the unconditional love we
received from our now greatly missed family member.