The idea of the fishing car is not a new one. It is an ever-endearing tradition amongst fisherman,subconsciously passed down from generation to generation. Vehicles fisherman drive are a dime a dozen but a truck completely dedicated to piscatorial pursuits is not. A particular Chevy Suburban belonging to a great resident of the equally great state of Montana comes to mind. This dude’s truck came equipped with a wooden gear box bolted to the floor. The box was complete with rolling fly display drawers containing hundreds of flies. Above this mobile fly storage unit was a coat rack, used for waders mostly, but a jacket or two could squeeze in if need be.
I have a particular fondness for Suburbans, old ones in particular. I wish had one for a fishing car. Currently I am stuck with a small jeep, but only because a UPS driver decided my 2001 Suburban was out of style –- he ran his truck into the back of the Trout Troop Transport (as my Suburban had been dubbed), which saddened me deeply. So far in the history of my fishing car ownership the Trout Troop Transport has been “top dog”. She was fully loaded at all times. I kept half of my everyday trout rods strung up in the overhead rod rack, the other half were kept in their respective tubes between the second and third rows of seats. I kept a bin of randomness next to my camping bin, in which I always kept two sleeping bags, two Mexican blankets, plates and utensil for two, a two burner Coleman camp stove and fuel, a coffee pot, frying pan, canned beans, corn, peanut butter, a bag of rice, coffee, tent, three tarps (one was to hang between the back door if it rained during the wadering process). I kept a hatchet, several knives, yards of rope, and three first aid kits stored away just in case. Waders and boots went where they pleased, though they preferred the back left corner. Spare jackets, underwear, and socks lived in a duffel behind the passenger seat. Tackle bags fit nicely between randomness and organized camping chaos. During the fall and winter you’d bet money that you would find a shotgun laying on the right side of it all. A friend and client once said that there were more flies in the headliner of the car than in a common angler’s entire arsenal.
Great fishing cars are hard to come by, and I sorely miss that truck or small bus, which ever you prefer, with her eighty five fishing and hunting stickers splattering both interior and exterior surfaces. Dare I compare the Trout Troop Transport to such infamous fishing cars as Buckshot or The Ambler? For she did visit such destinations as Key West; Margaree Forks in Nova Scotia, Jackson and Lander, Wyoming; Boulder, Colorado; North Platte, Nebraska; the birthplace of Mark Twain – Hannibal, Missouri; even New Jersey! She made countless trips into and across the Appalachian Mountains. In both Tennessee and Vermont I got the thing stuck while fording mountain creeks.
Three of us once shared her quarters for several nights as something large and unexplainable stalked our campsite on a remote road in an Appalachian state forest. This thing behaved strangely, slowly pacing back and forth for an hour or two, or until we hollered to scare it away, after which it would return and continue with its prior goal of freaking us out; the whole time staying well beyond the fire light. This went on for the five nights we were there. We were the only ones in the campsite may I add. I have not been back since.
I loved that vehicle as anyone could love an inanimate object. My life has been different since I lost the Trout Troop Transport, and hope to one day to be proud partners with a Chevy Suburban in this crazy life we call fly fishing.
By W. R. Lepczyk