Cool as a Cucumber

We are 20 days into the new year. Welcome back and sorry I disappeared for the last few weeks. I will catch you up!

Minnesota Winter Fishing Report

January 1st was a windy, cold day on Hay creek for the opener. As we arrived I was amazed at the amount of Habitat Improvement that had been done. I am not sure if the project is complete yet, but the stream looked completely different. Most of the trees from the 325th crossing to the snowmobile bridge were gone. The landscape reminded me more of the pasture streams located in the heart of the driftless than the forested little creek Hay previously was. The high mud banks in most places were sloped, cut down and seeded, creating a better situation for preventing erosion which in turn is the start of a whole chain of events and situations that should  serve to create a healthier environment for the all the living creatures that live and play around Hay Creek, especially the anglers and the angled.

I had only one problem with the whole new arrangement. My mind remembers the old landscape. It remembers hills and trees and rocks, and a general topographical image of the place that was etched in my mind from 1989 when I first fished Hay. That is how I find my way to my favorite fishing hole. That is how I find my way in the woods for the most part, Period! It all looked different, and I had to struggle to find reference points that made sense, fishing wise. For the most part the stream contour and meander was all still the same, I just had to work harder to figure it all out again. I enjoyed the challenge. With a bit of help from my friends, we made it to the spot where I normally fish on the first outing of the winter.

I was urged to begin the gallery session so I slid down the gentle slope on the ass of my waders and dug in my heels just before reaching the edge of the water. My profile remained low. On my 3rd cast I hooked a fish and on my 4th and 5th as well. My friends urged me to stay put and on the next cast the rod bent strongly. The peanut gallery hooted and hollered during the entire fight. The strength of the mighty Hay Creek fish were praised. When I brought the 18″ sucker to hand I was verbally abused. I tried to contend that suckers were game fish too, and Suckers need love too, but it did not work. I removed myself from the hole as the rules denote. Everyone in the group had some luck on January 1st 2012 but the weather continued to turn ugly. The fish eventually shut down. The most successful anglers we talked to that day had been out at sunrise. They were two mid 50-ish spin fishers. The fish had been chasing and eating small Rapalas and Panther Martins. That doesn’t happen too often on Jan 1 and the water temp was certainly warm enough for the fish to be that active.

Tiger Trout from Derick

Since the opener many of you have sent me reports of good, bad and ugly catching. Thank you, I enjoyed reading them and hope at least some of the information has transferred to this copy. The unseasonably warm weather has enabled a fair number of anglers to get out of the house and hit the rivers. I like that!  There has been midge and stonefly hatches, even an undocumented mayfly hatch. Anglers have been throwing dry flies in January, regularly! Fish have been caught on Princes and Squirrels as would be expected. As I sit this morning and write, it is 8 below zero. It is supposed to be 32 by the weekend. So goes the weather this year. Further to the Southeast in Minnesota there is the threat of 6 to 8 inches of snow. I like snow shoes and trout fishing. It is a bigger challenge and thus a bigger pleasure. See ya out there.


Laugh at Me

When a man turns 50 the doctor tells him that it is time. When a man turns 51 the doctor tell him to get his ass in gear and get his first ever colonoscopy. For those of you that have experienced this pleasure you know that the actual procedure is a breeze. It is over in the blink of an eye because of the administration of excellent drugs. As you can imagine you can only get these drugs by prescription and you have no recollection that any procedure has taken place. As far as I know they could have packed me full of heroin, sent me on a plane to Columbia, and removed the balloon full of diamonds from my internal cavity when I returned to the operating table. I would have been happy as hell to leave the hospital either way  and probably no worse for wear. Enough said!

It is the Prep that is the toughest part of this adventure. It is all about cleansing and you read about it in painful detail on the paperwork, yet they give you no prescription drugs for this portion of the procedure. You are left alone to your own agony and anxiety as the pharmacist at the Walgreens snickers and winces when you ask him for help in finding the OVER THE COUNTER drugs that are listed on your paperwork. It all begins two days before you are sent on the plane to Columbia. You are too frightened to eat almost anything. The paperwork provided by the doctor and his staff reminds you that if you screw up on your preparation by eating incorrectly you will be sent home to do more cleansing. Fear sets in and you wilt like a flower. As you read the directions on the various packages of “over the counter” drugs you were sent to purchase, you realize your health care provider has made a mistake, a typo perhaps. Your paperwork is telling you to take 14 times the daily dose of one drug and 4 times the dose of the other all in the same day! Can you say overdose? I think so. I called the doctor. There had been no mistake, no typo. My mental toughness was reduced from a wilted flower to a mushy pile of plasma, puddled on the floor. You realize this overdose is going to be explosive in nature.  Thankfully  your paperwork says it should begin 30 min after you begin drinking the laxative cocktail and end an hour or two after you finish drinking the cleansing liquid. I decide to begin my overdose at 5pm so I would be done by 9 at the latest. That way I could get a good night’s rest and be to the hospital by 7 am to get the good drugs. At 4AM The liquid cocktail was still shooting out of my system. Picture a high power pressure washer that you might use on your deck.  I had been overdosed, I was one wrecked fly angler.

At 7AM I checked-in. I was handed 4 pieces of paper and told to sign in the highlighted areas. No happy faces, no “How are you doing Mr. Roth”, no “boy do you look bad”. I was overdosed, wrecked and now I was surly. I was in no mood or mental condition to sign legal documents giving my health care provider permission to screw up the colonoscopy and send me on a flight to Columbia(I am telling ya, this is how it happens). There was a line 4 deep behind me. The gal at the desk wanted the papers signed right now. She glared at me as I stuffed the papers in my jacket and went to sit down. At 7:02 the nurse called my name and just like that I was in the examination room. Pleasantries were exchanged and I was handed a smart looking gown and a pair of purple snuggy socks both silk screened with words and logo of a company called “bair traks”. I hate bears, and purple is not currently on my fashion radar. I was told to strip naked and get in the gown. After achieving this task and stuffing the paperwork from the angry check-in lady in my bag, I felt overdosed, wrecked, surly and now stupid.

The fun began when the nurse slid the needle into a vein in my hand to attach the IV drip. I have big veins and nurses appreciate the ease at which they can successfully stick me. Somehow, though, she had become distracted and did not get the tube from the IV onto the needle. The blood covered the towel beneath my hand and began running down the arm of the chair before she realized what was happening. I saw exactly what had occurred but said nothing. Needles and blood have never bothered me. Probably because I have made a fair number of trips to the hospital over the years with sports related or self inflicted injuries that involved bleeding and/or shots or stitches. I could see she was a bit miffed at her mistake. She finished my clean up and ushered my wife into the room. I was glad that the episode was over.  The Mrs. is not good with blood. The slightest amount of bleeding, whether it is herself or someone else can cause her to pass out.  The wife did notice the remains of the blood on my hand, questioned it, and looked uncomfortable.

In entered the doctor. Doctor Johnson(name change) was a fit man, probably in his 40s wearing those little John Lennon glasses. The lenses on his glasses were so small I could hardly see his eye balls. I consider it a good sign when a doctor looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you. The glasses got in the way and it made me a bit uneasy, if that was even possible anymore. The doctor went through the physiology of the procedure and explained to my wife and I the risks and difficulties of his job. After I had initialed more papework verifying that he had gone through this discussion, he stood up to leave the room. The wife and I had both noticed that my IV was not running and he said he would have a nurse address the issue.

My first nurse re-entered the room. I could see she was fixed on the IV and was determined to quickly fix the problem. After scampering back and forth between the cabinet and my chair she returned with two syringes of clear liquid. She had determined that the needle in my hand was clogged with clotted blood and needed to be flushed out. Off came the IV tube and out flowed my blood again onto the towel. She quickly attached a syringe to the needle and dispensed the solution into the needle. I felt the solution speed along my arm and into my shoulder in an instant. It was a feeling I had never experienced before and I twitched. I remember thinking this is what it must feel like when an addict shoots up heroin, and I did not like it. While she was in the process of doing this a second time, two more people entered the room. Now there are 5 people in a 8’x10′ room and I am bleeding. The new nurse takes one look at my wife, who is just about to fall off of her chair, and ushers her out of the room. Some anxious talk occurs between the three ladies and my original nurse leaves the room. After further review the new nurse decides to remove the original needle and re-stick me in a new spot. I found it amusing when once again I began to bleed all over my third towel and down the arm of my chair. Can someone tell me if there is a trick to this procedure or does everyone bleed this much?

My new IV was completed and dripping when the anesthesiologist stepped into the room. Her presence was commanding and she spoke clearly and decisively. I could tell that she was a professional and there would be no chit chat about the weather, her family or any subject matter beyond the good drugs I was about to be administered. She explained that the drugs she was about to give to me would send me to another country “La La Land” and that I wouldn’t feel a thing. Surprisingly, I had no additional paperwork to sign. She took me by the hand and lead me across the hall to the operating room .

The operating room was much larger than the prep room and numerous machines lined the perimeter walls. Some of the machinery looked like little robots that could assist with the procedure but things were moving fast at this point and the details started to get sketchy. Dr. Johnson was already in the room adjusting his equipment or something. Immediately behind me came two smaller women introducing themselves as tech’s assigned to help with the procedure. Everyone in the room was asking me to do something at the same time. The anesthesiologist wanted me to open my gown and “hop up” on the table. I smiled, feeling a bit nervous and shy, but I could tell she was having none of that. The two smaller women wanted me to lift my hips so they could slide something underneath me. The doctor was saying something about my positioning. The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist apologizing to the doctor for the IV issue and thus the late start. We must have been off schedule and the plane was ready to take off.

I was in and out of consciousness in the recovery room. I remember just before walking through the front doors of the hospital with my wife the doctor saying something about clean, 10 years, good luck. I was groggy when I left the hospital and I slept a long time when I got home. Turns out the Doc talked to my wife and driver for the day and gave her the all clear sign. I would not have to take that ride again for another 10 years. Be careful out there, the world is a dangerous place.

Fly tying next!