River's Chilling Grasp is a 'Fight to Survive'

River's Chilling Grasp is a 'Fight to Survive'
River's Chilling Grasp is a 'Fight to Survive'

For fly fishermen, trout streams are often soothing places.

There's the steady roar of the current, the grasping tug of cold water enveloping a pair of legs cocooned in waders, and the mesmerizing quality of watching a dry fly steadily drift down a river's seam - drag free, of course.

And with a little luck, that drift will float the fly right into the feeding window wheelhouse of a hungry rainbow trout lurking silently below the surface.

When that happens, the graphite rod bends, the fly reel sings and it's "Fish On!" for the grinning angler.


But that's the peaceful and almost pastoral part of fly fishing, the one that inspired the classic film adaptation of Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It.


As popular now as it was when director Robert Redford and actor Brad Pitt mesmerized audiences with the sight of fly lines looping through the air, the sport still continues to draw many people into the mountains of the Eastern and Western U.S. each year.

But that same scene is a far cry from the terrifying reality of being knocked down, swept downstream and fighting to stay alive.

Yet that's the story that is being chronicled in this week's Fight to Survive episode on Outdoor Channel.

"Fly fishing is Dean Ririe's passion," said Craig Demartino, host of the show and himself the subject of the series' inaugural episode that detailed his own fight to survive after a rock climbing accident.

"But casting out a line one summer afternoon nearly cost him his life. This is no fish tale, but a chilling story of one man's faith, and perhaps, even a miracle."

That miracle gets its start in the idyllic setting of fly fishing, something that Ririe's father taught him to do during his youth.

"Fishing is a second religion (for me)," said Ririe in the show's preview. "Growing up, there were two things you could do on Sunday. One was go to church, the other was to fly fish."

For many years, that was the way that Ririe would relax, unfurling a fly line onto the trout streams in and around Utah's Little Cottonwood Canyon region not far from Salt Lake City.

That all changed in July of 2008 when Ririe made a spur of the moment decision to grab his fly rod and catch a few trout.

"I have a good spot near Tanner's Flat on Little Cottonwood Creek," said Ririe in the preview. "Fishing really seems to get good in the evening. (I figured that I would) get there just in time to catch what I wanted to and head home before dark."

Except that it wouldn't quite turn out that way by evening's end.

With the trout stream's snowpack fed chilly waters, a strongly rushing current, an isolated fishing spot with plenty of slippery rocks and a canyon region with virtually no cell phone reception, a recipe for disaster was being set in place for Dean without his even knowing about it.

It would soon become his own epic fight for survival, a gripping tale that will be told this week by Dean, his family and Demartino.

Sound like a can't-miss tale of adventure, disaster and the will to live?

It is just that and more. Tune in to Fight to Survive this weekend on Outdoor Channel and find out for yourself how it all turned out. Click here to preview the episode.

On a usually peaceful Utah trout stream that turned out to have a deadly secret running through its current. A secret that Dean Ririe now knows all too well.

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