Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grab your fishing pole! OK Rock reveals its secrets

By Alannah Allbrett

The mystery of the okay rock is finally unraveled. Diane Upton opened up the can of worms [excuse the pun], by writing a Letter to the Editor inquiring if anyone knew the meaning and origin of the OK Rock near Orofino’s bridge over the Clearwater River.

The Clearwater Tribune received a call from Jim Routh telling us to talk to Tom Province who turned out to be the person who began painting “OK” on the rock. Tom told of a very politically opinionated and vocal fellow employee. “Everything about him was okay” said Tom. His response to this man was painting the rock OK.

But Tom said he quit painting the rock some 20 years ago and did not know who took over that duty for him.

At the urging of his wife Diane, John Farbo came forward and told us his father, Tom Farbo used to use that rock as a gauge for when steelhead fishing was good. “It is the only rock that’s big enough,” said son John. “And it was right close to the bridge so we could see it easily.” His father painted three orange hash marks on it originally (before the OK came to be).

John’s father Tom and he did “drag fishing” for steelhead from a 14’ aluminum boat. But they always checked the marks on the rock before setting out. The lowest mark meant the river was dangerously low; one would probably hit rocks.

The middle mark meant grab your fishing pole! The level of the water was ideal for catching steelhead by drag fishing. John said his father would call and say, “Hey, let’s go!” “We fished every chance we got if it was right” said John.

“One year the paint OK covered our markers” said John. “We didn’t know who did it, but we adjusted by using the OK as our new guide. We knew where the letters OK coincided with our earlier marks. The bottom of the ‘O’ is the new low mark (unsafe). The crotch of the ‘K” is the medium (ideal fishing) level. And the top is the high water mark.”

When asked what happens if one fishes at the high water level John said, “The current is too strong, and it will just push your bait. It’s too much current to fish.”

“In the eighties, said John ‘The letters on the OK started wearing off, so my dad painted it during the 80’s and 90’s with my son Tyson. When he [dad] passed away in 2001, I started doing it. The last few years my kids, Kylie and Hunter, have taken over. They are in charge.

Kylie is a sophomore at OHS, and Hunter is in the 8th grade. Each year we paint it a different color (but always use white because it shows up best). The kids wanted to keep it blue and white for the Maniacs, but I wouldn’t let them. When asked why, John said, “I just like change.”

John always painted the rock the last week in August, when the water is at its lowest point. When asked if he has ever been spotted doing that. He said a car honked at him once, but mostly it’s just other fishing buddies and buddies from work that paid any attention to it.

John pointed out that one can pull up a website nowadays to determine the water levels of the river. “But they measure below the Northfork” said John. This rock gauges the upper river, the main flow, and it was the only gauge we had for years.”

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