What could possibly go wrong? I was on the Snake River on a gusty day in a newly purchased boat with a motor built during the Reagan administration.
I dragged my fishing pal, Darren Strong along because he shares my recent infatuation with fly fishing for smallmouths, and I know from our many steelhead fishing trips he's not afraid of a little nasty weather.
It was my second bass fishing adventure this spring. The other was to Oxbow Reservoir where another fishing pal, Dave Gourley, and I ushered in our bass season by expertly not catching any bass.
My small circle of fly-fishing bassin' buddies have taken on a challenge to get serious about chasing smallmouths. We're trying to unlock the secrets of early season fishing on the Snake and its reservoirs.
We've caught our share of cookie-cutter 12-inch bass in the past, but usually during late spring and summer when they're pretty easy to catch.
We are trying to figure out where those big paddle-blade-sized slabs hang out, and spring is supposedly the best time to find them in shallow water suitable for fly fishing.
I went so far as to buy Gourley's old aluminum skiff and motor, which I was taking for an exploratory run on the Snake.
We decided ... well, to be honest, I decided and dragged Strong along, that even though conditions looked dubious for bass fishing, we needed to know for sure. The only way to find out was to go and see what happened.
We launched the boat and headed upstream. I got Strong within casting distance of the shoreline and tried to hold the boat in position, but with the combination of current and wind, it zig-zagged like a rudderless tug boat pulling a barge.
We decided maybe if we went farther upstream to a series of islands we might find some water protected from the wind.
I cranked the throttle and started heading upstream. The old motor hummed, and we were making decent headway despite a stout wind that put a chaotic chop on the river. Then I felt the outboard motor jump and heard the engine whine.
Hmmm. I tipped the prop out of the water and twisted the throttle. The prop barely rotated.
I've been around outboards long enough to know I probably just broke the shear pin. If the prop strikes a hard object, the pin shears and the prop is saved. It all worked as advertised. Unfortunately, we were now adrift in the Snake.
I grabbed a paddle that Gourley had nicely included in the transaction, which saved me from being up a certain creek without one.
I paddled to shore, and there we sat barely out of sight of the boat ramp, but on the opposite shore from it.
I had a spare shear pin, but realized I didn't know how to change it on this motor. I knew the shear pin was located in the prop, but I was leery about pulling it apart while on the riverbank.
I had an ugly vision of dropping something critical into the murky river and losing it.
I called Gourley on my cellphone, and he said he was on his way to the river and would be there shortly.
We waited. My Lab, Dusty, decided it was a good time for fetching and constantly dropped a stick at our feet and whined until one of us picked it up and tossed it.
Dusty and I have about the same amount of patience, and I also was watching an ominous cloud bank approaching from the west.
I couldn't just sit and wait knowing a storm was approaching. I gauged the wind speed and current, and estimated whether I could paddle across the Snake before we drifted past the launch. It seemed like a better option than waiting.
I paddled the 14-foot skiff canoe-style while Strong continued casting for bass. I figured as long as we're on the water, one of us might as well fish.
I'm sure we looked like world-class idiots with me paddling like crazy and trying to keep the boat moving in the right direction while Strong stood in the bow and cast.
But we eventually made it across the river, and I anchored several times so we could both fish. The bass weren't cooperating, so we drifted to the boat ramp.
I had just pulled the boat out of the water when Gourley arrived. We quickly changed the shear pin, but the weather wasn't improving.
Strong and I decided to call it an early day, but Gourley was ready to hit the river in his boat.
I drove back to Boise and dropped Strong off at his house. As I was pulling away, my cellphone buzzed.
I grabbed it expecting a message from my wife, but instead my screen flashed with a message from Gourley. It was a photo of a smallmouth bass held by its lip with a fly in its mouth.
Ouch. That stung worse than the hailstorm that I knew was heading Gourley's way.
It meant two trips, and zero bass for me. Looks like I'd taken another bass whuppin'.
Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors
Statesman outdoor writers Pete Zimowsky and Roger Phillips alternate columns on Thursday. Look for Zimo next week.