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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

Some kinda fun
by Randal Sumner

Over the last twenty-two years I have taken at least one trout bum trip a season. I am the only long-term survivor of these trips. There are a lot of reasons the personnel has changed over the years: work, family, golf, mental illness.  There are all kinds of excuses not to set aside a week or two aside for fishing, none are reasonable except death.                                                  

For many years we went to Southwest Montana to camp and fish the Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers. These were the years before the drought that has damaged both these famous fisheries. If you want trout, you need water itís the main ingredient, water. Well that and bugs.

 This is the tale of one of those trips and a fisherman named Tom, not his real name and the perils of his last trip with me.

                        His problems started the first evening after we arrived and set up camp. As we got our waders and gear together Tom discovered that the new pair of waders he had purchased before leaving were the wrong size. Never one to dwell on the details he had bought a pair of waders that were a bit to large; standing with his feet in the knees, the rest of the legs were lying in the dirt two feet in front of him. I loaned him a pair of old neopreames and told him they had a leak or two.

 Later that evening we fished him out of the river; apparently the waders filled with water and pulled Tom under.                          

A couple days later the rest of us were out fishing and Tom decided to do a little cooking or to be precise BBQing with my little propane BBQ we affectionately called The Bomb. Tom apparently turned the gas on and waited a while before lighting the incendiary device and the explosion burned off most of his hair and eyebrows. He smelled like a singed chicken and looked like one of those cat breeds without any hair.                                                                                          Toward the end of our trip we decided to rent a raft and float the Big Hole. It was perfect September day without a cloud in the sky and air temps in the 80ís. Four of us piled into the raft with our gear including waders and jackets, the Big Hole is located on the Continental Divide and a storm blows through almost every day, it can get nasty quick.

 Tom wore a pair of cotton shorts and a T-shirt.

 Like some weird clockwork at 2:00 the skies darkened, the temperature dropped and it began to rain and hail. We happened to be on a gorgeous flat at the time and got out to fish the Mayfly hatch that has to happen in these conditions. The bugs came off on schedule and the trout were churning the water. When the hatch was over I looked back to see Tom huddled under a bush, drenched to the bone and shaking like a wet bald cat with blue lips.

 We gave him all the clothes we could spare and continued down river. As it got dark Tom was really in tough shape he was even wearing an old orange life jacket trying to get warmed up, my guess is he had a dose of hypothermia. When we finally we arrived at the take out, Tom chucked the life jacket in the river and ran to the truck. Wrapped in an old oily blanket he talked to himself all the way back to camp. By the time we had returned the raft and most of the life jackets it was pretty close to midnight and we decided on a quick dinner of chilidogs.

 Now here is the amazing part of our day, we all watched Tom eat four enormous dogs in two minutes then go to sleep standing up.                            

That was the last trip Tom ever went on with me, and I guess I understand, a trip like this is not with out its low moments. But between the near drowning, lighting himself on fire and hypothermia I really think he had a good time.       


More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
08/01/2001: It's Hard by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner