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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.

The Empire
by R. Sumner



My old friend Phil Hull had his 50th Birthday this month, and the troutbums and there brides got together at Birchfield Manor to celebrate the event.

  I went through my shoe box of fishing pictures to find some evidence of his early fishing life, in the days when we both had a full head of luxuriant brown hair. We past them around the table and had a few laughs and a toast. Phil asked if I remembered the first time I took him fly fishing.  Yes, I did teach him to fly fish, and to his credit he still fishes to this day.

Before I describe his first trip, a trip on which he broke two fly rods and slipped into the river I need to make a note on Phil’s rather polite English demeanor.  Philip would have been just as happy in a different age. I can see him collecting exotic insects with the Raj a top an elephant when the Empire still ruled India. Having tea at 3: 00 on the dot, even in the bush. Especially in the bush.  Imagine the barrister in the movie, “A Fish Named Wanda”, the perfect example of English propriety. A person who’s idea of hell is to be publicly embarrassed.  I’ve always admired Philip’s sense of self and as the Brits would say pluck.

A month or so before opening day I gave Phil a list of gear he might want to invest in before his fishing debut, the only thing he did buy was a pair of 5mm neoprene waders and boots. I told him that I had plenty of rods and flies, and at that point I still did. We met up on the river in the morning around 9:00 and it was already getting beastly hot. Our other companion is not to be named for complicated statute of limitation reasons; we’ll just call him Tom.

 I put the boat in the river and readied the gear, Phil put his new waders on over his jeans, Tom and I wore shorts and t-shirts.  As Phil attempted to mount the drift boat in his new clunky brown waders he slipped and fell back into the river with one leg in the boat and rest of his body thrashing in the water. Tom and I may have chuckled a bit. After righting himself he gave it another attempt, this time he was perfect… except for stepping on a rod and breaking it.

Bloody good show old man.

 Tom looked at me thinking I might go into Atlas missile mode but it was opening day, what the heck things happen. What I remember is that none these setbacks seemed to make much of an impression on Phil; I thought he must be numb from the neck up, little did I realize I was witnessing generations of breeding.

The rest of the morning went rather well; Philip took to the casting and actually caught some nice rainbows. When I anchored the boat for lunch in the shade of an old Cottonwood tree, Phil got out to explore the river bottom desert flora. Tom broke out the delicious mini-mart cuisine and some ice cold pop and we waited as one hog does for another.

 When Phil got back to the boat I was engrossed in one of Tom’s infinite stories of bad luck and inappropriate behavior. Tom was at that time the funniest human in earth, a treasure of hilarious off the wall stories that could make you laugh till you were in tears. I was having one of these moments when Phil reappeared and stepped into the boat breaking fly rod number two. Tragic…. and yet in a surreal way extremely funny. Here sitting in front of me sweating in his own brown sauna was a guy that had trashed my gear and was now asking for a cold Diet Pepsi:” I’m thinking, Bit of bad business about the rods, eh?

I also taught Philip to tie flies, he took to it like a proper Englishman, In fact I believe I’ve seen him at his tying desk wearing a jacket and tie, staring deep into the high plains of India checking his watch for tea time and swatting flies off an elephant’s back.




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
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
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
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