Double Haul, Double Happy

We are each born with an account from which we can all make withdrawals, but never add to. That is the account that contains the hours of our lives. Choosing to spend a portion of those hours in the service of others is perhaps the most noble thing a person can do. Last weekend saw Salida host the second annual Double Haul Celebrity Fly Fishing Event. The event is the brainchild of Chaffee County resident Dave Moore, and organized and conducted by the combined Rotary Clubs of Salida and Buena Vista. The concept sounds simple. Get a group of celebrities together, bring them to town for a weekend, set them up with a boat and a guide, and get locals to bid for the second fishing seat on the boat, and donate the proceeds to kids causes in the County.

The reality is an organizational feat a year in the making, with countless hours of time, effort and execution by dozens of local volunteers. This year, as with last, the core of the celebrity make up was formed by the Broncos Alumni. In this era of overpaid, over hyped and self centered sports stars, it is heart warming to see these guys selflessly giving back so much of their time and energy to causes such as this.

This year, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days on the river with Mark Cooper. Mark played for the Broncos and Tampa Bay from 1983 through 1989, starting in Super Bowl XXI. Now, being a Kiwi lad raised on rugby and hence relatively ignorant of American sporting traditions, it never occurred to me that Mark might have been in his playing days one of those huge guys who stands in front of his quarter back and pushes other huge guys the size of Mack trucks out of the way for a living. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue but with the river running at around 250 cfs, you can be in for a long day when your fisherman’s weight exceeds the river flow.

Fortunately Mark turned out to be such fun, in addition to a skilled fisherman and low maintenance kind of guy, that the time just flew by. Also on the boat the day this video was taken was my friend and Salida native Lee Graf. Lee has generously donated two Broncos tickets to a Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas fundraiser to be held later this year, so as way of saying Thanks, I rowed them down the river the day before the Double Haul. How Lee and Mark first became friends I have no idea, but I suspect college bars and seedy frat houses played a part.

To be sure, we had a great day. The beer was cold, and the fish were active. For some reason, there seems to be a lot of rainbows being caught at the moment. On this day, we actually landed more bows than browns, which is the first time I have seen that happen. I know the Division of Wildlife have been stocking the river with a strain of rainbow resistant to whirling disease, and when these guys get a little bigger, they will be a handful on a fly rod.

And so the planning begins anew for next years Double Haul. To all those , famous, anonymous, and infamous, who helped to make this year’s event a big success, Thank You. Roll on 2010.