Several years ago while guiding in southern Alberta a group of 8 anglers from the mid-west USA were in town for several days of flyfishing for trout. The trip was to be a combination of float trips and wade trips on various rivers in the area. The group had divided up into pairs for the trips, and as with all groups, there was one gentleman who was obviously the "ring leader'. Dan was referred to as "Doc' by the rest of the group and insisted we call him that as well. I was to take Doc and Mike for a float trip on the Castle River that first day. As we drove to the river Doc updated me on how, with the limited flyfishing opportunities around home, this group of 8, with minor personnel changes now and then, had been going on two trips like this annually for several years now.
Floating the Castle River is as much a whitewater rafting trip, as it is a fishing trip. We were using a 14-foot Avon raft with a rowing frame that is ideal for this type of water. The fishing was good and the float went off without a hitch up until the very last rough water of the day. About 300 yards upstream of where we would take out, the river narrows drastically, drops several meters and we refer to this piece as the chute. As we approached the chute I told Doc, who was in the back seat, that there would be a little bump at the bottom of the chute and he might want to hang on. This was greeted by a snort and a short briefing on all the whitewater trips he had participated in over the years and how this was nothing compared to them blah, blah, blah. Now the angler in the front of the boat usually gets a little wet on this drop and Mike wisely set his rod down and held on in preparation for the drop. Doc kept on casting.
We hit the chute dead center and the drop went as smooth as silk. Once we were down Mike started discussing how he had hardly even got wet. Suddenly we noticed Doc floating past us in standard whitewater rafting position, legs downstream of his body, knees up and slightly bent. I pushed on the oars and got the raft close enough that Mike could grab Doc by the collar and once he had a grip I pulled toward shore where we beached and "landed" Doc. Once ashore I grabbed my long handled boat net and ran downstream scooping up Doc's fly boxes, which having fallen out of his unzipped pockets and were bobbing gently downstream. I managed to rescue 4 out of the 6 that had escaped.
Well, next morning Doc started in with the telling of the tale for the benefit of the other guides and customers in the shop. Mike rolled his eyes as Doc started, he and the others had heard several versions of the same tale the evening before and obviously Doc had perfected the story. I could tell by the way it was headed that I was going to be the butt of the joke. Somehow overnight the chute had become larger and swifter, my rowing had become something less than desirable, Mike had gotten totally drenched, and on top of everything else my abilities with the net were less than stellar. I had let two perfectly good fly boxes full of secret patterns get away downstream! Doc wrapped up with a little sermon on how guides should insist on their clients putting away their rods and holding on, especially when they are about to face what surely must have been class 5 rapids! He then glanced over at me peered over his glasses and said, "I hope you have learned a valuable lesson young man". Grasping the opportunity to finally get a word in edgewise I replied. "Sure did Doc, a very valuable lesson."
"And what was that?" asked Doc.
"Always zip up the pockets of your fly vest!" I replied to roars of laughter.