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Ostrich Society Steelhead Outing


The two-track was well rutted and the two wheel drive’s bottomed out on the center hub but kept going, scraping the under carriage of the well-worn fish cars. The two occupants in the first truck were the advance team for the Ostrich Society Steelhead Outing, sent to ready the campsite the group had used for the past 15 years. It wasn’t really necessary to send an advance team, the campsites were usually empty this early in the season, but the Society didn’t like to waste time on setup, so the advance team was formed and sent with specific instructions to reconnoiter and prepare a campsites.

Harold and Mac picked the short straw this year and with a full pickup bed, made the trek to the banks of the river. The steelhead had just begun to make their way upstream from the big lake and it was decided that the weekend would be too crowded with day packers, so they set the date of the camp for Monday. By Friday they would have had enough of sleeping in trucks, tents and a few in tents, and be ready to head back.

The Ostrich Society seldom stayed in motels. Motels were seen as a waste of money and a lazy man’s way of getting out-of-doors. If a fisherman was serious about fishing for a week with friends, he shouldn’t be confined by walls and rules. Setting up a camp with a cook tent – with everyone pitching in to prepare meals – just enhanced the experience.

Actually, the camp wasn’t as rustic as it sounded. Most of the campers were over 50 and had done this for a long time and had it down to a science. They even had a makeshift shower made from a beer keg, kept under pressure with a hand pump and attached to a hose with a showerhead. As they got older, the evening activities waned as the allure of a sleeping bag became as irresistible as an egg pattern to a steelhead.

Harold and Mac pulled into the cud-de-sac which created an island of sorts rung by the two-track and contained an old buck-pole that had been put up years ago constructed from lumber hewn from downed trees. It hadn’t been used for years, but was too big to rot quickly and now served more as a landmark and a backdrop for a fire pit.

The first order of business was to select a site for the cook tent. It would be the center of camp activity and was big enough not only for the propane griddles, but also the tables for eating ….and tying flies on.

The shower was set up next to the cook tent because it shared the propane tanks to heat the keg and produce at least warm water. The keg was big enough to hold enough water for 4 to 5 quick showers and would have to be taken to a well site with a hand pump to be refilled. Some took fewer showers than others since the one using the last of the water had to refill it.

By the time the others arrived, most just had to pitch a tent or back their trucks with campers into a spot that formed a ring around the cook tent. Setting up a privy was everyone’s responsibility, the only mandate agreed on was it needed to be far away from the cook tent. They didn’t want competition with the smell of morning coffee and frying bacon.

The Ostrich Society always traveled with its own bartender. Oleg Johansen was the official bartender of the Society; having been duly elected by the membership, and traveled with them on the traditional outings. A kitty was created to cover the cost of the bourbon, but each man gave Oleg a couple of flies for every drink he poured them. It was a win/win situation: Oleg was responsible that the camp didn’t run out of bourbon, and since Oleg didn’t tie his own flies, well….he didn’t need to.

By Friday, the camp was well broke-in: Showers, meals and daily cleanup was down to a science and the camp was quite comfortable. The weather obliged by temperatures staying tolerable – not too hot during the day and not too cold at night. It had only rained for half a day and then not too hard. The camp dried out quickly.

Fish were caught; some kept, most released; a few lost. All were satisfied. Saturday morning, after breakfast consisting of coffee, bacon and eggs, pancakes and fishcakes made with left over mashed potatoes and steelhead fillets, camp was struck and everything brought in was taken out.

Making their way back to the highway, Harold and Mack were the last to negotiate the two-track, scraping the under carriage of the two wheel drive. It was the parting sound of another great trip put on by the Ostrich Society.

The preceding is reported as …THE TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH …give or take a lie or two!


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