A Shitty Night

Andrew Wesner

Active Member
After a 9 hour drive and a stressful border crossing I rolled into to Fernie, BC at 10:30PM and parked in the back of the Fly Shop to get much needed sleep.

I moved the gear around, inflated my air mattress and laid out my sleeping bag. My loyal 13 year old Lab 'Rufus' was already sleeping in his bed adjacent to mine.

I set my alarm for 5AM, slightly cursing the time I would need to wake in order to find the Wigwam River before other anglers did and before the monster Bull Trout that live there saw light on the water and ceased to feed.

Locating the Wigwam was easy, finding it was another thing. 20 miles in on a rough 4X4 road I found a pull out that had truck tracks leading to a small meadow with heavy timber stopping the meadow's progress in the direction of the river.

Armed with fly rods and a can of bear spray, Rufus and I descended into the woods after finding a game trail that offered direction to somewhere. Bush whacking straight downhill in Grizzly country in the dark proved stressful and exhausting. I could hear the river and followed the sound.

An hour after my first steps into the timber, the river was in front of me and I began to walk upstream, searching for a pool that hopefully held the legendary fish I was seeking.

It wasn't easy walking and was even harder for Rufus. I had to carry him across two sections that were moving too fast for his old legs to navigate.

We found a pool.

After my eyes adjusted to the light I could see several fish. And then, I could see several BIG fish.

The stories are true and I now have a few of my own. The first fish I landed probably weighed 15 pounds. A beautiful male Bull trout already draped in orange and red spawning colors. The second fish was closer to 20 pounds, and I caught a few more of lesser size. Unbelievable.

As the light came up the Bulls retreated deeper into the pool and the native Cutthroat began to feed on escaping mayflies. Not just any mayflies, but the elusive Drunella Grandis; the Green Drake.

I always carry Green Drake patterns, even when fishing streams where they don't live in hopes that I will be in the right place at the right time to catch this rarest of hatches.

The Cutthroat were feeding everywhere, recklessly attacking these giant mayflies as they emerged through the surface film. I was laughing to myself as Rufus lay on the bank in a hole he had dug in the sand.

I fished for several hours in the same spot and caught countless large, wild, Cutthroat Trout.

I left the river while the hatch was still on. I had fished enough. It was too easy and I was almost getting bored of catching fish. Plus, the hour long trek to the river was going to take much longer going straight uphill.

Climbing gear and an ice axe would have helped in the ascent. Holding on to branches and hiking duck footed so as not to slide down the steep wall I was climbing was exhausting. Helping Rufus make the climb was ridiculous.

Finally back at the road, a mile from my truck, I sat on my knees and caught my breath. It was worth every step.

We drove back to the Fly Shop and found a group of guides sitting around a table drinking beer and sharing stories of their day. I joined them for beer and stories and Rufus slept and snored in the truck.

I learned that I had taken the 'rough trail' to the river but the section I had found is one of the best. I felt a little better for the effort.

Invited to dinner, I accepted and spent quality hours learning about the Wigwam and several other small streams that are infrequently fished in the area.

I hit the wall at 10PM and made my way back to the Fly Shop for a good night's sleep...

At 2AM I awoke to find Rufus shaking and panting. I figured he was sore from the day's adventure so I petted him and told him he was a good boy like I often do. He was wagging and seemed happy. It was chilly in the back of the van as I had the windows open for air flow.

Rufus' agitation continued and I figured he was cold and uncomfortable. I encouraged him to leave his bed and sleep next to me so that I could keep him warm.

My coaxing had him stand up and move toward my sleeping bag; except he didn't lay down.

As he approached my sleeping bag he made the tell tale move of walking in a circle.

Knowing what was impending, I flew out of my sleeping bag to throw open the side door of the van but it was too late. My rapid motion and exclamations of "No, No, Nooo!" only added to the problem.

As Rufus was expelling feces on a horizontal trajectory all over the back of my van, my sleeping bag, and me, I managed to open the side door to stop the bleeding.

Rufus apparently had consumed too much river water during the day.

I examined my surroundings and could find no solution to the problem. No towels, no water, no soap.

I emptied the van in the parking lot as it started to rain.

I shook off what I could and put my shit covered sleeping gear back in the van. I had suddenly reached a new normal and accepted my fate.

2:45AM, I went searching for a hotel vacancy.

Covered in shit, I went to two hotels and was told "No rooms available right now". I'm pretty sure there were vacancies.

I arrived at the Super 8 out of town. With no comment as to my current state, I was given a room. It was the oddest "Elephant in the room" exchange I have ever had in my life...

Perhaps testing my luck I inquired as to their "Pet Policy". I signed another form trying to shield my shit caked hand from view.

Upon entering the room I glanced in the mirror. I had a streak of feces running down my cheek.

I can only imagine the stories being told amongst the few hoteliers in Fernie, BC...


Dave Boyle

Active Member
Great story, I can only imagine. I knew someone who tried to keep their deerhound in their caravan as the family drove into the Scottish highlands. It was spray painted as Rufus has done, the funniest part was it has streaked across the ceiling too, he managed the vertical so it could have been worse :p

Anyway, you had great fishing and now a truly great story.


Andrew Wesner

Active Member
As your story progressed, I was starting to fear something more dire was going on with Rufus... glad it only ended with some doggy doo to clean up.
I didn't realize I had done so much foreshadowing until someone pointed it out. Thanks for reading! Always good to share a story like that to laugh it off. Sadly I've had worse. Maybe another story about that...:)


Not to be confused with Freestone
I didn't realize I had done so much foreshadowing until someone pointed it out. Thanks for reading! Always good to share a story like that to laugh it off. Sadly I've had worse. Maybe another story about that...:)

Rufus is OK and you got into some big fish... sometimes you gotta put up with a little shit to get those results ;).

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