Until I pulled ashore by our site at the KOA campground, Friday had been a good day. Our club, the Fourth Corner Fly Fishers, from Bellingham, was enjoying one of our scheduled outings. Three of us had floated down from near the diversion dam in pontoon boats, enjoying challenging but interesting fishing (challenging: an angler's term meaning a lot of effort with minimal reward). But before I was ashore, one of our members told me that Linda had capsized and drowned. Linda had been a member for some years, serving as treasurer, secretary, and now raffle chairman. A busy nurse practitioner and Montana native with three grown children, she was an experienced skier and backpacker as well as a competent fly angler. But her experience with her pontoon craft was limited to lakes. Apparently, none of the other members with her had floated that section before. I was told that when an underwater sweeper capsized her, she didn't struggle, perhaps unconscious from the outset. CPR was performed for a long time, but without success. It was to have been a weekend-long outing, longer for some. But Saturday morning, with little discussion, all of us packed and headed home. Linda was my friend. We had fished together for steelhead, and hiked to trout-filled alpine lakes. I had built her a spey rod at her request, and felt shame at what a poor performer that particular blank had been. We've been struggling to make sense of a senseless loss. Part of my feelings have been an angry attempt to locate blame. It seems inexplicable and stupid to me that some agency in Ellensburg/Kittitas County, which derives much income from tourist use of the Yakima River, make no effort to clear sweepers from the river banks. Compared to most other labor-intensive and expensive things that society does in the name of public safety, that seems like a cheap and easy fix, really a no-brainer. What would it take? A pass-through with a boat and a chain saw once a month or so, during season? And who's responsibility: the county sherrif's dept. or their Search & Rescue unit (which probably spent more on Linda's recovery than they'd spend in two or three years of sweeper-clearing), the Dept. of Fish & Game, even the Dept. of Transportation? In the summer heat, the Yakima is filled with feckless college students and other tourists, floating in inner tubes, and air mattresses! How many of them have an inkling of the risk they're taking? Ultimately, a river is just water plus gravity. The river doesn't think or care; so we who use them must.