“I don’t want to lose your love tonight…” lyrics from The Outfield’s hit blast throughout Coors Field as Charlie Blackmon steps to the plate. The beer guy drops off another round. He thanks us for keeping him busy and tells us he will see us next inning. As Blackmon rips a line drive off the wall to knock in a pair of runs my friends and I cheer a little louder than usual. My buddy Derek blasts more of The Outfield’s one hit wonder from his original Droid. We cheer louder for Blackmon for two reasons, he fly fishes and we all know it’s Derek’s time to shine as if having a ringtone in 2016 is still acceptable. While enjoying a game is as habitual for us as fishing, for Blackmon it’s more of a job so when he gets a day off fishing is what he wants to do.
With the Rockies having a day off on a home stand Charlie hit me up wanting to get out. I already had plans to fish with my buddy Ivan and there was plenty of room left for one more in the Tacoma. We set up to meet at Angler’s Covey fly shop early the next morning. I called Ivan to let him know I probably wasn’t going to bring Gus and he said the same about Bosley. If you know Gus and Bosley than you understand why introducing them to new things can be interesting to say the least. The following morning Ivan hit me with the “Here” text at about 7:15 am. I tried to leave my apartment without Gus but, as any angler with a dog knows, leaving them home is nearly an impossible task. Gus sat next to my bag at the door and I gave in. As I walked outside I wasn’t surprised to see Bosley sitting in the car. On the ride to the fly shop we joked about our dogs being the reason for the next fluke injury to a pro athlete. When we pulled into the Covey, Charlie was waiting in a 04 Grand Cherokee, the same ride he has had since high school. My immediate thought was, “Respect!” As we got out of the car to say our hellos, instead of a hand shake Ivan handed Charlie a cheese stick. The cheese stick was the key to setting the foundation of a good relationship between Charlie and the dogs. Charlie threw his stuff in; we all piled in the truck and headed out.
The week before Ivan and I had fished a stretch of river, I fished so poorly that a video of my misses was made and set to the music of Sarah Mclachlan. I had redemption on my mind so we headed back that way. On the drive we talked up the water we were going to fish and how easy it would be. Having fished this river my whole life and knowing the state shocked something like 4 million fish a mile I never really worry about catching fish on that river. As we crossed the bridge we saw the water running a little stained caused by some low elevation snow melt the previous few days. I cussed in my head but, knew we should still find plenty of tugs. We all rigged up nymph rods; I ran a stonefly, psycho prince and caddis larve rig. I had a grudge to settle with Ivan from the previous week so I made sure I was within shouting distance of him the entire time at the first stop. Charlie settled into a run and hooked a few while I kept my eye on Ivan. I managed to land a handful of fish while much to my enjoyment Ivan hung a goose egg at the first pull off. With fishing being pretty slow we decided to shoot up the canyon to another stretch that always produces. Ivan finally got rolling finding a few fish. Charlie and I took a break to enjoy the show while I heckled the big fella. As we watched I asked Charlie a few questions about being a ball player. Being a Colorado native getting firsthand accounts from a guy who has been an All-Star on your favorite team made for a pretty cool experience, besides the fact that I now know Todd Helton drinks wine not Bud Light.
As the day wound down we had time for one more stop. We all spread out across a few runs when fish finally began to rise to a mix of BWO and Caddis that were hatching. The next hour fishing was lights out until suddenly the hatch was over. Ivan and I made our way back to Blackmon who was working a run off a big boulder. Ivan and I sat above him as he worked the run. We heckled him like we would anyone else and he answered throwing money drifts that were rewarded. As the day came to an end The Owl began to sound more and more appealing. After getting our gear off we headed back to town to grab a few Double-Doubles. If you have ever been to The Owl then you know the only guarantee about the place is that the food will be worth whatever else happens. As we sat at the bar I made sure to grab the middle chair amongst us. It wasn’t long before a local kid was sitting right next to Ivan at the bar. For the next ten minutes the kid told Ivan about how a burger should be free, concussions, blue whales and God knows what else. The waitress finally asked the kid to leave and apologized. There really was no need for an apology; I will still stop every time I’m in town partially hoping to see that weird little kid again.
The car ride home was relatively painless. We joked around and discussed future trips. As we said our goodbye Charlie extended the invite to come watch Batting Practice and catch a game on him as pay back for getting him out. While my mom and her friends may have crushes on Charlie because he has a great beard, he truly is first class. Besides fishing with Charlie has taught me a few things, being a pro athlete really is a job and that although I averaged twelve points a game my senior year in high school I was never cut out to be a big leaguer. Thankfully fly fishing doesn’t have many requirements.