Attack of the BearMooseDog, and the wayward foursome: Strange Days on the St. Joe

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Dan Cuomo, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. I spent a solo week on the St. Joe, returning on July 2nd, in an effort to avoid the 4th of July madness. I made my basecamp several miles below Red Ives in a shaded spot w/ room for my tent, and a place to set up my tying bench, and as Hemingway might have written, it was good. I had arrived before the Holiday hoard, snagged myself the spot I'd wanted, and set things up just as I had hoped to in anticipation of some badly needed quiet time to fish, tie flies, and reflect on the somewhat twisted state of my personal life. Little did I know how ineffective this strategy would prove; ignorant of the lurking presence of the BearMooseDog.

    The river was, in my opinion, eminently fishable with the water levels acceptable and dropping steadily. Though wading was difficult in some places, and some very good spots to fish when the levels are lower were unreachable, there was good fishing to be had at every turn and I was finding all that I had come to The Joe in search of.

    I spent most of my mornings tying up flies in patterns and sizes that had proven successful - parachute style Adams, PMD, BWO, and Green Drakes in sizes 16 - 10 - for the evening and working on Stonefly imitations based on live insects plucked from the river. During the days I rambled up and down the river stopping to explore whatever pool, riffle, or run that looked promising. Could Satori be far off?

    After being on the river for a few days it became time to take a hike along the trail above Spruce Camp, as I have done several times before on previous visits to The Joe. The hike is easy, gaining elevation gradually, and the views; when they present themselves are beautiful. I hiked in as far as a bit above the Lodge, hitting several spots and picking up several decent fish along the way. The afternoon was wearing on, so I did an about-face and headed for camp, pondering such weighty matters as the ease of preparation involved in mac and cheese versus the culinary merits of pasta al dente w/ pesto - both of which I had packed - and blessedly unaware of the death of the King of Pop; something for which I am forever indented to the good Lord, as "Jacko" was played-out in life, never mind in death. But I digress, and things were about to get interesting.

    While rounding a bend in the trail I almost collided w/ a cow moose and her calf. Between the three of us it's an open question as to which was more surprised by our meeting, but I know my heartbeat and respiration were somewhat elevated by the encounter. As I regained my composure I searched my vest for my camera, they retreated back down the trail. By the time I located the camera the cow and calf had disappeared. I followed the trail around the bend and there they stood, and we soon found ourselves in a sort of a standoff. She seemed calm enough, but resolute in her desire to remain on the trail. Given the steepness of both the uphill and downhill options, her reticence to leave the trail was understandable. I had no desire to force the issue in deference to the fact that it was I who was the tourist in her neighborhood, and while my kids were home she was very much engaged in the care of her own young. From a distance of approximately twenty five yards, I briefly considered the ethics of the situation. What would my own mother, or worse yet my 12 year old daughter, think of me if I ran her off the trail? (My slightly older son would later advise me on the effectiveness of rocks in such a situation) In an effort to tell the whole story I was also loath to haul my own lazy ass off the trail. To the right the uphill option looked to be almost straight up, and to the left there lurked a slope I would only tackle on skis. I remembered the reason for the camera in my hands and turned it on and began to frame the shot, still thinking about how to get around the two w/o feeling like a bully or worse yet an abuser of Mothers w/ their offspring. The answer to that question will never be known.

    My dilemma was resolved, and the photo-opp forever lost, as I was almost taken off my feet from behind by a brown blur moving at warp speed. The inside of my waders came very close to taking on the dampness usually reserved for the outside, as I jettisoned my flyrod and camera and very nearly the contents of my bladder. By the time I recovered myself the cow and calf were gone and I was treated to a view of the ass-end of a BearMooseDog. The BearMoose part are the two options which flashed through my girlyman imagination upon first contact. The Dog part proved to be the reality of the situation. Within a minute or so, as I collected myself and my gear, my new best friend Roxy - owned by Mr. Peters of Post Falls, ID, as determined by her tags - returned to introduce herself. She is a solid brown German Shorthair, and a very pretty and personable young lady, who seemed blissfully unaware of how close she had come to giving me a heart attack and enjoys a good scratch behind the ears as much as the next BearMooseDog.

    We hung for a while before she took off for another adventure, the nature of which soon became apparent. Before too long, Roxy reappeared with her next "victims." Up the path - which is your average backcountry trail replete w/ muddy patches, stream-crossings, and road apples aplenty from the pack train traffic - comes Mom, Dad, Grandma, and what looks to be about a four-year-old girl who is in Dad's arms and not too thrilled by the presence of Roxy. The happy foursome are attired as though they were headed for Orlando when they got in the Minivan that morning. Everyone has on tennies and bermuda shorts. Dad looks as though he's looking for his ball in the rough, and Mom is pushing a baby-jogger/stroller. Grandma has a camera lightly looped around her wrist, glasses on a chain around her neck, and an expression that makes it clear that she believes that dogs belong on a leash. This is all a bit strange and I'm not sure what to say and do other than to blurt out "that's not MY dog," smile politely, and keep on moving. Roxy stayed on making it a fivesome and I, like Lot, kept my eyes forward thinking it best not to glance back.

    I drifted down the trail back to my truck feeling the way I used to many moons ago after an especially interesting night on the Town or maybe after a Dead show, wondering how much of what I recalled actually happened in the way I remembered it. I returned to my camp and took a nap, trying very hard not to think about how weird my day had been, and thankful for the simplicity that that evening's fishing would bring.
  2. Sweet report. A week immersed on the St. Joe, focused on tying and fishing, should be a panacea to anyone's mental health. What a great opportunity to work on fly patterns and try them out on willing trout!!

  3. Cracked me up:rofl:
    Sounds like a perfect time! Very envious!
  4. The stuff dreams are made of! Thanks for the report and pics.
  5. Great story. Only thing scarier than a BearMooseDog is a ManBearPig. :)
  6. Thats what I was thinking when I read the title of this thread :rofl: Great story, I'm envious of your trip!
  7. :)Absolutely outstanding report, one of the better pieces of writing I have seen on the forum for some time, the photos outstanding.
    I hope your communion with the river and the associated cuthroat were as refreshing for you as your story was for me.
    Thank you for that! :beer2:
  8. Nice report! My friend Ron and I were out there from the 27th - 30th and had a great time! First time on the river, so we explored a lot, but caught fish every day. Saw a moose for the first time in the wild and heard of one from the locals in town that one hangs out near Moose Creek.

    My biggest fish were a couple of whitefish, but we caught some beautiful cutt's and stayed at some great campgrounds. Stopped by the shop in Avery almost everyday and Jerry and his family were great and helped out. Everyone said the water was high, but I thought it was in great shape and we hit rising fish two evenings. Most of the fish I caught were small, but fiesty, especially on my 3wt and a blast to catch. Nymphed most of the time during the day or threw streamers.

    Here are a few pic's from my gallery!


    I'll definitely be going back to the area! :beer2:
  9. My son Connor, who turned 15 today and with whom I am heading to The Joe as well as to Kelly Creek and elsewhere next Saturday, has made me a great fan of South Park. The "BearMosseDog" is a definite homage to ManBearPig. I am glad to learn, as will be Connor, that the reach of South Park extends so deeply into WFF.

    Glad you all - Casey, BDD, Jim, Mark, and Steve - enjoyed the story as much as I enjoyed both writing it - Thanks for your kind words Bob Balder - as well as living it. It was indeed a rare chance to spend some time on my own... sort of. Thanks Roxy.

    Nice report and beautiful pics, flybill.
  10. I love your fly tying bench. Great Report.
  11. Great report! Sounds like you had one fantastic adventure.
  12. Great post, Dan. It is God's country up there- I'll be over in a couple weeks for my second year. One would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful area. Anywhere.

    You're lucky the Cow w/Calf encounter resulted in no flailing, stomping and bludgeoning of hooves. Had it not been for The BearMooseDog intervention, things might not have ended so benignly for you.

    My brother had a mid-river standoff with a big bull last year. I think the time of year is all that kept my bro from being forced to take a swim. Had it been later in the summer, the bull's nuts would have been swollen and throbbing, and my brother might have become his b*tch. ; )
  13. Thanks for the read!
  14. I enjoyed that one, thanks!
  15. I knew my Workmate bench was versatile but I would've never thought of that setup. I'll have to give that a go sometime. :thumb: I can only imagine how cool everything must have looked from that seat.
  16. Great read Dan. sounds like a wonderful time. Lose the watch your on vacation!

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