The Unwelcome Transition Back to Civilization

by | Apr 20, 2024 | fly fishing in Bhutan | 2 comments

Currier-mahseer

Photo by Jim Klug

I had my coffee fast and early this morning then hiked upstream and wade fished a run where you’re likely to find golden mahseer not chocolates.  Now that the trip is at its end I’m dying to hold one more golden nugget.  But no luck.  Not even a tug.

 

 

 

Himalayan-Flyfishing

Photo by Jim Klug

I returned to camp for breakfast.  Then I packed my Yeti dry bag for the last time.  There’s only one good thing about the trip coming to an end.  With all the rain early on there are some rank clothes in my bag.  I’m not trying to be gross, it’s just a hard fact.  River trips aren’t for sissies.

 

golden-mahseer

Photo by Jim Klug

For our last session I fished with Bobby.  It’s been a blast hanging with everyone this trip but remembering Bobby in India back in 2013 vs now – its cool.  He’s grown up to be a fine and fun person in addition to being one heck of a mahseer angler.  An hour in, the river widened and we floated through the last piece of the Himalayan Foothills.  You can see in Jim’s photo we are about to float into the open plains before nearing India.

 

chocolate-mahseer

Photo by Chris Patterson

Bobby and I picked up a few fish.  All chocolates.  They were smaller on average than what we’ve seen all week.  No doubt it’s a hint of being closer to civilization.  We saw signs of humans a few places yesterday along the river and more frequently today.  There’s no doubt that locals here eat fish.  Bobby and I still managed to squeak out one last double.  Both fish were on a sight cast!

 

 

 

 

 

Bhutan-IndiaWhen we officially exited the Himalayan Foothills the landscape opened up.  Behind us you could still see the foothills.  To the south was wide open.  The haze in the air was thick from smoke and air pollution from India and Bangladesh.

 

 

 

nets-destroy-fisheriesWe caught hardly any fish once on the plains.  The ones we did were tiny 10” or less chocolates.  Then we started finding nets.  The way I see it, these small chocolates can swim through the net holes.  The larger ones get wiped out.  Soon we saw our trucks and crew members waiting for us to complete our journey.  If we floated any further we’d be illegally in India.

 

Yellow-Dog-BhutanI was wrong about something.  Yesterday’s lunch wasn’t our last on the river.  The shuttle guys had one more delicious spread for us.  We hammered the final meal then posed as a group for some pics.  What a trip!

 

 

 

Bhutan-YetiWe said our goodbyes to Bryant’s phenomenal Himalayan Flyfishing Adventures crew, and before we knew it we were on our way.  It was about 2 PM.  On paper we had a six hour drive to Thimphu where we planned on a big celebration dinner then a good sleep.  Tomorrow we start the taxing flight home.

 

 

 

 

 

BhutanOf course all drives in Bhutan are grueling.  This one no different.  First we crossed a few stream beds.  Then up the winding gravel roads along the sides of mountains.  Once we got an hour into the drive those weren’t 100 foot drops.  They were more like 1000 footers!  We squeezed past a few landslides.  There were potholes the size of Grand Canyon.  Then we came to a village and a roadside checkpoint.

 

flyfishingBryant’s main man, Karma, hopped out with a folder of paperwork and everything looked good.  We have all the proper paperwork.  But after 20 minutes, then 40, then an hour, it was obvious something wasn’t jiving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BhutanThe checkpoint guards basically took Karma and our driver Kinley to their office and left us at the van.  We got out and sat on a bench.  We were hungry and thirsty.  Only a mile back we passed a store.  Jigme went in and got permission from the guards to let us go there and wait.

 

 

 

BhutanThis store / restaurant had about everything.  We wanted chips and Druk.  We were pleasantly surprised when we learned the Druks were ice cold.  The first cold beers we’ve had in over a week.

 

 

 

 

Currier-BhutanWe kicked back at the restaurant store for over and hour.  Before we knew it two hours had passed.  The beers still tasted great but when we looked at the clock, it wasn’t looking good for making it to Thimphu in time for dinner.  About then we learned about the issue at the checkpoint.

 

 

BhutanWe didn’t go through this checkpoint on our way to the river.  We came another route then pushed off in the rafts and bypassed some checkpoints and roads because we were on the water.  These officials thought two things bad.  One, that we drove through Bhutanese checkpoints and didn’t stop.  Second, and really bad if we did, it looked like we had illegally left Bhutan to India and now we were back.  Neither of which were true.

 

BhutanOur guys faced the challenge of explaining how by traveling the river we avoided checkpoints.  And that where we took the rafts out didn’t allow us to take the same road back to Thimphu that we came in on.  Keep in mind people from the Himalaya are not water people.  These rivers have far too much whitewater to be even considered in their culture.  These guards couldn’t grasp what Karma and Kinley were trying to explain.

 

YD-FlyfishingAfter painstaking explanation over maps.  Numerous phone calls to authorities in the capital.  The guards continued to have a tough time comprehending and believing the story.  Finally after four hours, they let us go.  It was sunset, 7 PM.

 

You never want to drive roads in foreign countries at night, but we had no choice.  The drive was miserable.  Too winding to sleep even though it was hard to stay awake.  And the turns made me car sick.  I never puked but it came close.

 

BhutanLucky for us, around midnight we safely arrived back at the Namgay Heritage Hotel in Thimphu.  Bryant had pre-ordered pizzas and salads and they were waiting for us.  I couldn’t eat any.  I have something strange going on.  A tooth ache causing my whole jaw to hurt has kicked in, literally during our drive and its bad.  Hopefully it improves on its own and I’ll feel better in the morning.

 

Yellowdog-Bhutan

Photo by Jim Klug

That’s a wrap folks on Bhutan.  At this time tomorrow we’ll be well on our way home.  Thimphu by car to Paro.  Then record flying time – Paro to Bangladesh to Bangkok to Seoul to Minneapolis to Duluth then the 90 minute drive home after midnight.  I should be home in about 40 hours.  Remember the photo I promised from camp last night.  Here it is!  Nice photography work again Jim Klug!

 

 

Upon return from this wonderful journey, this trip will be available at Yellow Dog Flyfishing AdventuresAnd the film we shot on this escapade will air on the Yellow Dog “Field-Reports” June 1.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

2 Comments

  1. Kevin Yoshida

    What an adventure Jeff! You’ve inspired Lance and me to go to Bhutan in 2025!

  2. Ron

    Oh my lord, I was just wincing reading this. You are one tough dude, Jeff! Wishing you a speedy recover.

    Thanks for ALL the inspiring blog posts. I was just reading through your Oman posts, as I have an Oman business trip coming up. I’ve already called up Yellow Dog about a side trip to Southern Oman!

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!

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