Saturday morning, my wife, Kristin, and I hiked with some of our family up to Bloomington Lake, a place that is very special to me. Twenty-one years ago, I traveled up to this lake to camp overnight with some good friends. This happened to be right around the time that I found my faith in God and changed my life for the better. So I’ve always associated this lake with the light and peace that I discovered at that momentous time in my life.
Unlike my visit years ago, Saturday was cloudy and cool. Despite the less-than-favorable weather, Kristin and I decided to do the hike to Bloomington Lake. That morning, for many reasons, I lamented over the sad state of our nation. In my humble opinion, so many people have lost their faith in God and direction in life. It’s truly easy nowadays to feel alone in your faith.
Once we reached the small alpine lake, my good wife tolerated me fishing for a while, but the fishing was less than stellar. I caught two small rainbows on an old reliable Pistol Pete, which has saved me from being skunked more times than I can count. The other family members who fished also caught a few fish, but nothing to brag about.
After an hour, my wife and kids were ready to go. I had not satisfied my fishing addiction one iota, but I knew I needed to be considerate to my family. Our plan was to take the kids to the beach at Bear Lake to play with their cousins. As we drove towards Bear Lake, the rest of Kristin’s large extended family passed by us as they headed home. They reported that it was too cold to hang out on the beach. So we turned around and headed back to the farmhouse we rented in Dingle, Idaho.
With this change in plans, the wheels in my head started turning on how I could get in some more fishing. I asked Kristin if I could drive over to St. Charles Creek and fish for a while. She graciously agreed as long as I was back by dinner time. I invited my brother in law Kelly Averett and his daughter Hannah to come along. Kelly and I have successfully fished this creek together numerous times in the past.
We quickly drove over to St. Charles, Idaho and up the canyon, but missed our usual parking spot along the creek. When I turned around, I ran over a nasty rock that punctured a back tire which deflated completely in less than two minutes. Earlier that week, we had just replaced the back brakes in the Yukon and neglected to put the tire iron and all of the necessary pieces of the jack back into the vehicle before we left for the family reunion. As you can guess, I was never a great Boy Scout. We were up the creek without a paddle so to speak and it didn’t look like we would get to fish after all.
Rather than panic, Kelly and I quickly looked for a solution to our problem. I checked my cell phone, which had only one bar, but when I tried to call Kristin, the calls repeatedly failed. So I decided to hike up to a nearby ridge to see if I could get better reception. No dice!
When I began the descent back to the road, I noticed a van stop directly below me. I realized the driver saw me up on the hill and wanted to help. When I made it to the van, the guy introduced himself and told me that he had just observed Kelly at the Yukon and stopped to ask if we needed help. Kelly reported that we did not have a tire iron and that I had hiked up to the nearby ridge to try and make a call for help. With this information, the gentlemen drove down the road and picked me up. He had three cute youngsters in his vehicle that were quietly chowing down on vanilla ice cream cones. He reported to me, “We are camping up in Paris Canyon and really have no reason to be up in this canyon. But we decided after we got these guys some ice cream that we would go exploring. That’s when we noticed that you guys needed some help and stopped.” I thanked him for his concern and kindness.
Our newfound friend happened to have a Yukon himself and, after we returned to my car, he quickly showed me how to release the spare tire from under the car. I would not have figured that out in a million years because, after three years of owning the Yukon, we had not experienced a single flat tire. After trying a few things, the gentleman jerry-rigged the jack with a piece of metal, which gave him the leverage to crank the jack and get the flat tire off the ground. The Good Samaritan then stated: “I’m of the belief that there is always a way.” His McGuiver-like persistence was inspiring to me.
With his tire iron, I quickly removed the flat, and put on the spare. Unconcerned with getting dirty, our friend, then crawled under the Yukon and secured the flat tire to the car’s bottom in less than a minute. Kelly and I both thanked him profusely, and he humbly replied, “It’s amazing what a determined redneck can accomplish when he puts his mind to it.”
I replied, “The world needs more people like you.”
He smiled and said, “You guys go fishing!” And then he and his little friends were off to go back to their families.
With our setback, we only had 45 minutes to fish before we needed to leave to get back to our families. We had come all this way so we decided to get after it. I went directly down to the creek near the car to fish upstream and Kelly and Hannah walked up the road and planned to fish downstream until we met.
The creek was ice cold and at first, I raised only a few skippies, one which I inadvertently relocated when I tried to set the hook. I carefully made my way through the tight stream casting where I could through the canopy of trees. St. Charles Creek holds many fishy looking holes at the numerous bends of the waterway. In years past, Kelly and I have caught numerous nice rainbows, cutthroat, and brook trout. After catching a few small fish, I questioned whether the creek still held any of the bigger fish as in years past.
The fish did not seem too interested in the Mother Chukar fly, so I switched to one of Shawn’s Elk Hair Caddis with a ginger hackle. This fly was the ticket! I waded up to this long run below a overhanging branch and a small cascade. I cast to the head of the run just below the cascade where the water could not have been more than a foot deep. The fly drifted no more than six inches when I observed an aggressive strike. I set the hook and quickly realized that this was no skippy, but a Madison River-sized rainbow in a ten-foot wide creek. I was using my three weight TFO rod so the fish’s fight was intense and fun. After a few acrobatic jumps, I beached the big fish on the gravelly bank upon which I stood. What a fish!
I only caught a few more tiddlers in the short time that I had left on the creek, but it was enough. I was grateful. Kelly and Hannah reported that they caught a decent fish on Kelly’s first cast.
As I walked back to the car, I realized that this whole experience would not have been possible but for the modern-day Good Samaritan. I was grateful that there are still some truly wonderful people in the world who help others without a second thought.
The other realization I had is that even though we sometimes feel alone and have nowhere to turn for help (or no cell phone reception), we are never really alone. God knows us and He knows what we need. If we have faith, He can send help when we least expect it. Oftentimes that help comes through good-hearted men and women who follow a prompting without knowing exactly why. It’s experiences like these that help to restore my faith in mankind.
If you like this post, please check out my book, Heaven on Earth: Stories of Fly Fishing, Fun & Faith. You’ll love it!