Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coach's Corner : "The Boys of Spring"

Epic Fish Camp 2015
Missouri River, Craig, Montana


This year found the Boys of Spring at their usual camp site located at the base of Holter Dam on the famed trout waters of the Missouri River.  The ideal location for a bunch of weary educators who have spent the last nine months reading 7th grade papers, dealing with helicopter parents and needy staff, and the "no you can’t go to the bathroom because you are bored" students etc. etc. etc.. Needing some well-deserved river therapy, we made our way to the “Mighty Mo.” 

Included in this year’s 4th annual trip are the usual suspects:  our steadfast leader, Mr. Dan Kimzey, and his cohort Eric Larson, Chad Williams (yours truly) and Shawn Goll, Dan's father-in-law "Dirty Steve", the white water expert, and Dan's brother Kelly Kimzey, Fly-fishing Guide Extraordinaire.  Rounding out the group is future educator and seasoned fly fisherman, my son, Devan Williams.


Devan and I showed up a day earlier than the rest of the crew for a little scouting and some one-on- one father and son bonding.  We decided to keep it close to camp and fished what is commonly referred to as "the dam to dam" float.  No need to pay for a shuttle and the proximity to camp insured that we would not run low on beer or snacks.  Right off the bat, the kid showed up with the hot hand.  Once we rowed to the cable Devan was fish on with the typical zebra midge and scud pattern nymph set up.

He would continue this routine throughout the day and the rest of the trip reminding me constantly of his fishing prowess.  Indeed the kid turned out to be the one to get it done throughout the trip.  There was hardly a time that we did not hear his announcement of “fish on” much to the chagrin of his seasoned mentors.  As a father I couldn’t have been more proud.

  Devan even took on himself the role of instructor, giving his old man all kinds of advice.  It is fun to watch my son step out on his own and create his own style.  He fished with his own hand-tied bugs and was very successful!  I kind of feel like the father in the movie “A River Runs Through It”.  Devan has his own rhythm, the rhythm of the river.

The rest of the gang finally arrived Thursday evening and Dirty Steve and I prepared for our brethren a feast of elk burgers.  

Food always takes on a special meaning when cooked outside over a fire and especially when you can put food on the grill that you have caught or killed yourself.  Each meal takes on a buffet style as each member contributes to the feast and none are left wanting.  In fact the average human would founder on the abundance of food we each consumed.  We spend as much time enjoying the food and company as we do catching trout! Devan and Shawn Goll even caught a mess of mud bugs and boiled them up for supper one night.  They were lights-out fantastic!

Nights are spent around the campfire regaling each other of past exploits and future dreams.  We eagerly await Dan’s stories.  He has a special flare that always entertains and never fails to bring about a hearty laugh.  If you are lucky, Steve will bust out his mouth harp and start jamming an old blues tune accompanied by some kind of box drum concoction Dan came up with that every one wants a turn on.  We keep things rocking late into the night and our neighbors don’t seem to mind.  Unless you are Shawn Goll aka "the Yeti" suffering from a food coma!

As we floated a couple stretches this year, the river gave our crew plenty of opportunity to ply their skills against finicky trout.  Dan used his new 10 ft. 6 wt. and tangled with a few good fish.  I would manage to wrangle a couple good trout on a dry and even flirted with a heart attack as a behemoth took a swipe at an over-sized streamer that I tried for “kicks and giggles.”  Most of the fellas got into fish and even Eric, a notorious Pike and warm water fisherman, had a good time working out the bugs on his technique.  Shawn brought his shiny new drift boat that he refurbished last summer and Eric managed to keep the 360 degree turns to a minimum.  But mostly this trip was about the healing waters and the therapy provided by being outdoors for those of us that make our profession in education.  The camaraderie that we share here creates a bond between us that is hard to describe but can be summed up with one word:  “PALS.”

Things are starting to look just a shade western! "Keep working on that sculling stroke Eric.  It sure is coming together for you, pilgrim!"  Nobody enjoys the simple pleasure of the Montana outdoors and the company of pals more than he does. “Sometimes I just like to sit and think…sometimes I just sit.” says Eric.

The Yeti on point is a big man with a big heart and an appetite for life.  The chili dogs were an experience.  I just wish I had a jalapeno popper worthy of your stature.  My whiskey brother!  
(I guess you just had to be there!)

This is Epic Fish Camp.

Our annual pilgrimage is the brainchild of our fearless leader Dan Kimzey.  If it is possible, Dan wants to do it. If it is not possible, Dan will give it a try anyway, just for the hell of it! He is a fine example of the kind of guy who takes each day of life and sucks the marrow out of it.  He lives each day with the energy and enthusiasm of a child.  Not only does Dan have your back but he leads from the front and is willing to take a bullet for you.  If you stand by his side, he will call you brother.

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