Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back to the Oasis....

Sometimes it's just a great thing to go for a fish regardless of the day's outcome, but today wasn't feeling like anything special. The drive went rather smooth, time passed with ease and very little of my thoughts were on the fishing, kind of odd. I was dreaming of life I suppose, the when's and the how's always lead to the why's. It seems I needed to reevaluate why I give up office jobs and the "higher education" for a road less traveled every now and again. On this particular drive the debating echoed loud, back and forth, reasons and beliefs, etc, etc. I thought of… why don't I have a million dollars again? The mansion? The oh so needed luxury car? Ah right, its nature and her surroundings, that's worth more than life itself, to me…. Right? Right! But like all good things, nothing is easy and nothing is for free, things are prioritized and sacrificed for the hope of something better. Living a life filled with little money and a ton of experiences isn't a painless thing. Spending a hundred and twenty days on the snow and at least the same on the water takes it toll on the body, over the years something is bound to break. Nature isn't always colorful sunsets and prancing deer nor is it calm, cool and collect. Its power and grace make it the best and the worst of your existence, you might say life tests of what your limits are happen on a regular basis. It's appealing to those of us who have the same feelings and thoughts of life styles on a different level, not better just different. Some days its colder than you ever thought your little toes and fingers could bare and some days the wind blows so hard that only a idiot would attempt to hike, ride or cast in to her, but you do it anyway because you love it. Bank accounts are nothing more than an easy way to cash checks, if you do have a savings account it’s a collection of cash for the next trip or piece of gear. Houses are cheap renditions of your great grandma's house with the same familiar smells and carpet, with no extra charge of course. The TV isn't really for television, its for movies and adventure films and the video footage of all the neat surgeries that comes with the life style of bashing your body like it’s under warrantee. I had to finally buy a bed because of my knee surgery, a thermarest and sleeping bag just didn't sound that appealing and my kind girlfriend at the time insisted… but either does lugging around furniture, how is all that going to fit into my pack? The thought of getting a new pair of waders sounds really nice but I'll need to patch my old pair (6 months old) again but only if I can find the time, so duct tape will most likely be applied. Although the new leak I found today is deathly close to the crotch and both legs are wet now. I finally sewed up my fishing pack, it lasted almost 9 months! The entire lid blew open at the zipper stitching and it now looks like Frankenstein, but it holds all my crap. I hope that all my rods get shipped back in a timely manner, I am down to nothing and borrowing a good friends stick (Mark thanks!) until they return. My gear is lasting days not years... uggggggg

And before you know it we are here at the first stop. Time to get my license, which went up in price, how nice but I hope it helps the fishes. A quick drive to the water to check a few spots, and headed to toss a line. I was taking forever to rig up (as usual) while Nate was already hitting the water. I lazily walked down and just looked around, I wasn't that excited and I wasn't sure why. I need to just fish. I made a few casts not really thinking about what I was doing,when I noticed a Pelican floating down the river. A local for sure, riding the river like I imagine a kayak'er would, picking a line gaining speed through the chutes, playing. It was one of the coolest things I have seen a pelican do. I'd better snag the camera and unfortunatly watched the pelican fly away before I was done switching lenses. What do you do? Went back to lobbing the nymph rig until I noticed a herd of antelope drinking from a slow eddy. Perfect, hoped out and grabbed the camera and they ran away. SH**!!! I was irritated at the very least. But with good fortune (or bad luck) a Bald Eagle came flying by for a river check, and conveniently perched on a nearby branch. SWEET! Took the cap of the SLR (rigged with the long lens), and thought just maybe I can get a shot. I hit the "on" switch and … nothing, nada. Huh? Better check the battery connection. Oh right, they are all sitting at home, neat really &*^(@() neat. I laughed out loud in anger, silently mind slapped myself and put the camera away. This area wasn't producing... I was annoyed… we made a move.

The Drive to the next area was rather quick. I walked the bank for a few checking out the upper run and the pelican that finally decided to take a break from running the river. I was walking back when Nate went tight. A few casts later another one was being released. Looks like he found something. A few more cast later the first Trout was to hand. Three whitefish and now a nice rainbow, sweet! After grabbing one more Nate yelled over and told me to hop in. That's just the kind of guy Nate is, swell, he'll even share the wealth. Oh and a hell of a fisherman, just don't ask him cause he won't tell you. Although I didn't land a Trout it was nice to be catching. Well, for the next little while it was searching for the "Bows". Some really nice runs produced zero fish and nothing even spooked after we trekked through. Until the next place, Nate grabbed a few more white fish but still no sign of the Trout. The last few runs before the car… well see. I took the tail while Nate worked the middle. One small white fish was landed but still no Trout. Nate had worked the area and moved up higher, I came around casting and thinking. I snapped out of it and caught myself just lobbing over and over and over in the same place, muscle memory was driving this ship. I moved up and drifted out in thought again, and then the line went tight. I started to play it like a white fish... horse it in. Then I realized that this wasn't a head shaker whitey but a Trout. It was a fine Brown, with signs of battle wounds where he broke off some other fisherman a time or two…a strong fish indeed. A few more casts later the bows started to come in with a few white fish in the mix. I lost what I like to think was a Cutthroat but didn't really get a good look at it. A couple more bows and I decided to catch up with Nate. As I was walking I watched a few large dark objects holding tight to the inside seam. Time to return the favor I ran up to grab ol' Ralphy. He hooked a couple nice fish there, what a fantastic run.

Making the move to the last spot for the day I was coming to peace with myself. I thought of how lucky I am to be out here. How awesome nature really is, I cringed when I thought of heading home to the great city of salt, how I wished that I could be out here forever and never work again, I started to hope, OK more like dream. Nate stuck a few and I held another. The sun was setting and the light was unreal. It was casting a soft glow on to the landscape, brining out colors that only an artist can mix. Standing on the bluff gazing at the original creations I though… what an ass I was, wondering why and such… pfft ; ) I guess I needed to take the time to smell the roses, one look and I remembered. I smiled, said hello to a few friends and vowed to never stop the search. I love the country, just not the music ; )

Thanks Nate for snapping some shots!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Streamside Observations

With spring here and winters freeze slowly thawing more and more insect life is coming alive. The past few weeks have been fantastic to observe some of the years first bugs. Some little guys some bug guys. Last few weeks Skwalas were seen and adults are hatching on select days. Both the adult and nymph have been captured and fished.
A few Caddis have been seen. Some seem to be the "mothers day" Caddis that is highly anticipated each year. Another is a Caddis that I was not familiar with specifically. Lucky I know a guy who knows a guy that works at a lab ; ) It has been a great tool to better understand the small living things that fish love so much.A cool find was the scuds. Fishing the river one day Spicy Boy (Nick G) pumped a few out.... of quite a few fish. Although this is a picture of what is referred to as a "dead orange scud" there were olive scuds as well. A few pictures were a bit out of focus but you can see that they have a slight hint of olive in some areas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Midnight Run --> Splake... and Cutthroat

The phone ran, it was Nick G (Spicy Boy)…"How was the adventure today" he asked, "it sucked, I pricked one and that was it" I replied, "fishing tomorrow?", "most likely" I mumbled in frustration. Nick mentioned he wanted to back and get another shot at the splake. The seed was planted and ideas started to grow in my mind. I hung up the phone and debated the inspiration for an hour or so. I called him back; it was set we are leaving tonight. We tied a few flies, packed our gear, grabbed some food and made the southern midnight run.

Our plan was to get down there and crash out for a few hours, then wake up before dawn and search for the big guys. The drive went by fast, tactics and thoughts were loosely tossed about, the excitement and anticipation were now at optimum levels. Dawn came, were rigged and ready to go. The temperatures were cold but the wind was calm, yes that's right calm! Woo-hooo! The past two months have been an irritating blowing rain day after day, trip after trip; it will be nice not to have the winds high pitching sound echoing through my hood, not to mention the steady pitter-patter of rain hitting the gore-tex... like some kind of Chinese water torcher. We agreed on a starting point and worked our way around the lake, casting and moving rather quickly to locate the school of fish. After and hour of nothing we made the shift to the prime spot. We should have done this first but… you never know. Nick was working an area by a log lying on the water when his line came to a complete stop... a snag? He set the hook anyway and he was tight. It was a solid fish, the fish that we came here for. The porker Splake went nuts and was at arms length when he unfortunately spit the hook and swam away. I think Nick cried inside for a few minutes, then with excitement he blurted out in unpolluted exhilaration… "Did you see the size of that thing? holy sh&*!" he repeated over and over. Nick had lost a monster, a low-ball estimate was in the 5-6lb ranges, and we both wouldn't be surprised if it was easily over 8lbs, bummer. But is was cool to see that he was still stoked to see it, to witness a treasure that will bring him back for years to come. It was a teaser you might say, instilling just enough of a wonder to keep this place alive in our thoughts - the "what ifs" are running wild .We spent the rest of the morning working a school of fish and following the shoreline until we hit the ice; most were splake with a few cutt's in the mix. No large monsters but some feisty 14-18"ers. Each cast I kept thinking this might be the one, over and over the it replayed in my mind. I am certain that Spicy Boy was thinking the same thing, or at least hoping for another shot.... Ah, the hope.

On the way back to the car we stopped and fished a spot on the dam, well that was a mistake. Within a few casts, a guy wearing a uniform started to yell at us. "GET OFF THE DAM!" what the? Great. So we reeled up and made our way over to the officer. We thought for sure we were going to get yelled at or checked for our licenses and who know what else. To our surprise the guy was super cool, a local boy from down here and the local DWR official. He kindly explained that it was a violation of homeland security to -> fish from the dam, be near the dam or look at the dam… damn it ; ) We had driven right past the sign in the dark last night and had parked down around the bend facing the back of the posted area in the wee hours of the morning, we hiked down to the water and had walked over from the shore, 40 feet above us was the road and the posted "keep out" sign. Oops, well it was almost a bit more than an oops. He said he tried to yell over to us earlier but it was windy (yep, of course the wind kicked in) but we couldn't hear him. They arrested 5 guys the week before, interrogated them and charged them $800 in fines. Right about then he mentioned they were in a black truck and on cue the black truck drove right by us, a tad ironic it was at that exact moment… we barely missed going to jail and who knows what else. We thanked him over and over and talked about the splake, as we were very interested in his information. We gathered some great intelligence and started to head home…. but first stopping at a local river.

The river never felt better, it's been fun hitting the Stillwater and all but my passion is moving water, it just feels right. It's been too long. We scouted a few miles before picking a spot. Nick was up on a gem of a run… the cast went out and (insert drum roll here) ...nothing, change drift, nothing, change angle, nothing, changed flies, nothing, repeat the sequence, nothing. I tried and followed the same template, nothing. What the hell? Stupid fish ; ) We moved on to the next run where a rise was spotted earlier. I was up, made a few casts with absolutely no sign of interest so I changed flies... again. By now its been at least a dozen patterns thrown between the two of us. At this point I was staring in my box-o-flies, looking at nothing really, no fly stuck out. I didn't know what to toss, until it stared at me. It seems that Nick and I were both thinking the same thing…. "whatcha putting on" Nick asked, a "hog wrangler" I said, "you?", Nick laughed and said "I was tying on the same thing, different style , same color". When all else fails try something different I suppose or use something that works. The first cast was just lobed out slacker style, mainly because I wasn't expecting much, to my surprise the line went tight, a nice little brown was stuck on my fly. Lobed it back out there thinking it was somehow a fluke and I was tight again. I hollered to Nick to jump in the middle of the run, he made a cast and he was on. For the next hour we were into fish. We even had a few double ups, at one time I went 7 for 7 and lost number 8 and 9. We must have landed a few dozen fish out of one run, unbelievable. It was a great adventure and as always was painful to leave.

More now than ever I hate the city.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Second Bass of the Year

A bit of redemption ; ) Just a smidgen bigger than the first bass of the year.

We headed out on the fishing vessel "cheechcraft" today. I must say that gale winds, white caps and the high seas were a nightmare,(Just kidding, no high seas... thought I'd spice up the story) . Fishing was slowwwww. You could barely cast let alone navigate. Trying to get a good drift was a constant battle and casting, well that was the usual for me. I have been lucky enough to be able to fish in gale winds for the past TWO months. I am so sick of the stupid wind. Looks like Monday is going to be windy too and Tuesday and Wednesday.... gee, another week of wind will sure be neat ; )

Top and Bottom Photo by: Cheech
Cheech's blog (click link).... I tie, therefore I am

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

First Bass of the Year

To avoid the almost getting skunked, we hit a small community pond..... surprised to see the fish is smaller than the fly ; )

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ice Off - Corlorful Runts... as usual

MFRW and I traveled once again in search of the elusive good "ice-off" fishing. I am certain that I have an ice-off curse. Everyday that I can go the weather is totally blown out and/or the fishing is slow and most of the fish are teeny-tiny little guys. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy every minute of my adventures but sometimes there is an urge to go catching, of the large variety. Now, I do not post every single trip on here but to give you an idea... I have hit the water 15 out of the last 26 days out of those days only a few fish were over 20" better yet over 16" and most were the 8-12" range and a ton n the 6" and under and only a few of those days it wasn't blowing like a banshee out of hell or snowing thing is a bit early and I am a tad eager to be fishing them, or I just suck at it, or I just am not at the right place at the right time or the stars aren't aligned or I forgot to fill out the spam letter and/or decided against sending it to my closest 700 friends, so I unfortunately didn't receive my wish in five minutes or the added bonus of 7 angles if I completed it in the next two minutes, dam it! The tougher the fishing the more inclined to keep at it, to figure it out. I suppose that I am a bit hard headed... hell side ways or raining. Perhaps the stillwaterMFRW is too ; ) The more we get our asses handed to us the more likely we will return for redemption. Now, on the other hand, by exploring these places so early you have a better understanding of what is going on and where its going to happen or I my case not happen. It is still fun tying flies the night before and testing your skills on 6" planter bows but the need to get some big fish under my belt is screaming louder than ever. Perhaps its the fact that I haven't fished salt water for almost 2 straight years. Perhaps its the fact that I am sucking right now and the weather is taking its toll.

While I was thinking all that this sunny, yes finally sunny, afternoon I couldn't help but admire these colorful feisty rainbows. Then I noticed the fins. I thought that was the coolest thing I had seen in a long time. The fins were perfect little rainbow full of colors. While I was mind-complaining about my "issues" I had almost forgotten why I fish today, because its fun. Its not always for the catching and more often that not its about just living, it always has been and always will be what I do, sometimes you just have of days, err, months. The mountains alone are enough for me, add water and vibrant colored fish and I really shouldn't complain. I thought how selfish I sounded. I was able to walk here, MFRW still has to hobble sometimes due to the broken leg incident. He still charges and more often than not and goes beyond the limitations that the leg was trying to set. I am able to see, well somewhat : ) Although the sun is "burning" my eyes and slowly growing "enter scientific word here" over my pupil (due to years of sun expose and poor if any sunglasses/goggles) ,but I can still see the size #32 dry, sometimes. The old guy next to me can't even see the cane he used to hike down in here. I am healthy and live a good active life and I am complaining about fishing in the wind, rain, snow and whatever else that thrown my way? HUH, interesting .....................I'll go ahead and slap myself...... ah, I feel much better now ; )

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stillwater Tour - Day 3..... Windy, Again!

Alarm goes off, coffee maker turns on, heater turns up... gee we are spoiled hehehe. It’s the last day of the adventure. We packed all of our gear and broke down camp in a hurry. We agreed to hit a spot on the way home; it might be out of the wind and snow. As soon as we finished loading the truck and camper, yep you guessed it… it started to snow. I think a moment of silence was taken to stop the storm… it didn't work though. In no time we were in the thick of it. It was snowing sideways as usual and things weren’t looking good. A quick stop at "Mom's" for breakfast was something that we just couldn't pass up. Nothing like a greasy home cooked meal!

The wind and snow wasn't all that bad at this place. It wasn't picture perfect but it was far better than where we had come from. Although, the fishing was OK for stocked rainbows and we all managed to get a Tiger and a few healthy Cutthroats, it wasn't fishing as well as last week or that we had hoped. It was getting late and cold, we called it quits. A valiant effort for this trip by all, we stayed and fished when most would have gone home, we made the best of a poor situation and nobody complained. We drove here in the snow and now it appears we are driving home in it, figures. Overall is was a great time and I am glad I went even if all the factors are working against you, it was a cool challenge and I learned a ton.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stillwater Tour - Day 2..... Its Still Windy

Unbelievable…. it's not windy! We gathered a few things and quickly headed to the water. Arriving the lake was calm, glassy and very inviting, woo hoo. A bit of overnight snow could be seen on the ground but the sun was on its way out… the making of a great day? Perhaps…

Rigging up we spotted a few fish rising tight to the shore, heads! Grizz was rigged and headed over to the shore. In no time he had a nice bow! Sick, we all thought that it was going to be a great day! Little did we know what was approaching around the corner. After hours of tryin to throuh my arnm out of its socked I was out of options. I had walked the shoreline pounding water, changing flies, changing lines, changing leader, changing flies again and then repeat. 8,593 casts,319 flies, 4 leaders, 3 lines, 9 1/2 prayers, 4 really great swearing rants, 2 pleas and one bribe later... I hadn't had a bite not even a nibble. I truly suck. Walking back to the guys I had hopes that they found them. Well, each had two fish… what is going on? About that time someone flipped the switch, just like that gale force winds ripped though the area. Temperatures were dropping and it looked like it was going to snow. So we headed to yesterdays spot. It was a picture perfect setting of yesterday's scenario (hell, a cold one) but the wind was a bit stronger today 53 mph instead of 51 mph… I think, its hard to tell ; ) Out of the blue a guy appears, then disappears… A few minutes later he returns with a leashed golden retriever. Two seconds later all hell breaks loose. Grizz's dog sees it and heads over for a friendly pet and sniff, the guy starts to shout "back away" over and over and over, this catches the attention of MFRW's dog, and he heads over. At about this exact moment the guys wife (who's in the car) starts honking the horn, meanwhile he is still yelling and now foolishly attempts to shove the LARGE 160 lb dog's head and now screaming"back away". Then the guy slips and falls on the ground when attempting to shove Ferris (the dog)…LOL…LMAO…I'm still laughing. He finally gathers himself off the pavement , gets in the car and drives away. What just happened? WOW that was neat...The guy never even said one word to any of us, the dogs weren’t barking or acting aggressive by any stretch of the word.... .

Back to fishing... Grizz and I had gotten into a huge pod of 6+" rainbows, a few 12" cuts were caught but nothing to write home about. I was just happy to actually be catching something, finally. Meanwhile MFRW couldn't buy a hit, even fishing the same exact spot. The big difference was that he had on a sink tip? Grizz and I had on floating lines, and I guess it mattered after all. We all were tired of the sideways snow and gale winds so we headed back to camp. After a few minutes of hanging out the skies seemed to clear…. Right... But being bored we drove to check out a small scenic river. To our surprise this small beautiful em was full of garbage. The entire length of the river was filled with trash, the camps were total waste pits, human waste and anything you can think of was tossed about the forest…. It was sickening, it made me very mad, more like it pissed me completely off. Why would anyone do this is beyond me, hope mother nature teaches them a thing or two and soon. We fished for a bit then headed back to camp for…drum roll..... lasagna and garlic bread! Hope tomorrow is better….