Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Small Stream Secrets

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

South Fork of the Snake - Part two

It was midweek when the call came in. Grizz was on the South Fork of the Snake camping and floating in the "canyon". Fishing was heating up, Golden Stones, PMD's and Little Yellow Sallies were abundant. He mentioned that he was going for another three-day float, coming home then heading back up. "You want in?" he asked, I didn't hesitate to say hell yes. My Trout fishing is mostly done hiking in the backcountry, floating in a drift boat is new to me. This was a great opportunity to go somewhere new and take some notes from a good fisherman/oarsman.

I immediately went to see Ralphy at Fish Tech to see what I needed. Pink PMD's? You sure? Huh, interesting. I spent the next few days search for any information on this place. I became increasingly eager, almost impatient, for this trip, spirits were high. The jaunt to the water was filled with fishing tales and river history. I learned more in the four-hour drive than I did the past two weeks searching the internet. Fishing lodge information is bias in my opinion. It's to lure the rich-fisherman for the all-inclusive dream trip. Not about the history, lore and adventures.

Arriving at the river we packed the boat and slid her in. Grizz recognized a longtime friend and mentor. I have heard the tales about this fisherman and was excited to observe his fishing ways. We agreed to rendezvous down the river on the island. We shoved off and in no time I witnessed the power of this river. Water hydraulics sucking down water like black holes is not to be taken lightly as Mother Nature is truly powerful. Although the river looks like its flowing slow there is much more power once you on it. It was real and I was aware of the detrimental effects one bad move could have. Out here mistakes have severe consequences. I was a bit nervous as drift boats are new to me but I knew that Grizz was a Jedi hand I'd have the best coaching that anyone could ask for.

At the island I witnessed some great fishing and some beautiful fish. I learned a few new things and was handed a fly by a master. Hanging out at the boats and talking story I decided to rig a rod. That's when the discussion took a different direction…it went from, uh, a general something to what fly I was going to use. The fly in particular was the "grumpy frumpy". It created some unique conversation and interesting theories…then I was put on the spot. The grand master wanted to see the fly in action. "go over there and fish it" he said. At that moment I was shocked. I said something like " oh were here for a few days and you guys only have a few hours left to fish, I wouldn't want to be greedy and fish the run" hoping that was enough to get me off. "Nah, were good" another guy said. Oh boy I thought. I walked slowly towards the run, not because I was nervous but it was because my eyes were closed as I was praying. I think I promised to be a monk or something if I could just catch a fish. First few casts produced nothing. Oh no I thought but then the miracle happened. The fly was attacked and it was a good fish. It ran up the riffle only to turn down stream. I gave chase and ran past the Jedi council and one of the boys netted the fine specimen - a healthy vibrant bow. I reeled up and sat down with satisfaction. "You done already?" someone asked. Oh no, not again I thought. So back over to the riffle I went, prayed again. A few casts produced another vibrant sample… phew, that was lucky. This situation happened once more with the same result. I finally sat down and doubts were soothed, the "grumpy frumpy" was receiving praises. The Jedi examined the fly and asked a few questions. I offered to give him one but he gracefully declined saying that he going to tie some up. It was one of the luckiest moments I've had…. if I could only remember what I promised.

Entering the "canyon" was something out of an adventure novel. The rain didn't bother the beauty it only added a mysteries hue to the dramatic scenery. The rain started as a slow pitter-patter in no time it gained momentum to a steady shower, turning into heavy rain with thunder and lightning. Arriving at camp the setting was nothing short of awesome. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. Camping on the river is one of the coolest things. Fish rising, music playing and the smell of BBQ ribs on the grill was nothing short of superb. I can't wait for tomorrow.

The morning float was magnificent; the view alone is worth the trip. The river breaks up a bit, braids of water branch off and flow at their own pace away from the busy main river current. We parked the boat and ventured over to a hidden braid. The lush green grass tickled your chin as you walked through it. I can't remember the last time I saw eight-foot tall grass, walking through it I felt like a kid again. Grizz stalked this small slice of heaven, enticing some beautiful fish to take his fly. The scenery was energetic and gave you that warm fuzzy feeling that everything else in life that you'd given up to chase fish for was worth it. It felt like home.

The clouds were on the move and followed us thought out the day. We stopped again at another braid. That’s when we witnessed an amazing display of Mother Nature's beauty once more. It started off as a slow sprinkle and it didn't take long before it gave way to a full-fledged downpour. Nothing amazing about that, right… But that’s when it happened. The sky opened up, sunshine broke through but the rain didn't stop. It was incredible to witness no clouds, sunshine and a hard rain.We made our way to camp. The river was alive with emotion. We floated though a dense cold mist, ghostly to say the least. Then we spotted camp. Arriving there the skies were closing in again, rain was brewing. We decided to hurry and set up the tents just incase. Well, midway through you could feel a few drops hitting your skin, then a few more. The sizes of the drops were increasing as well as the speed of which it was coming down. Right about the time the tents were secure the rain transformed into a violent hailstorm. Not tiny-weenie size hail but nickel size, perhaps larger. It pounded the ground for what seemed like hours. Hail, rain, wind it was all here now. Then it stopped; the clouds gave way to the sun and nature acted like nothing happened. Everything was soaked but we didn't care, we were fishing.

Morning came… it shaping up to be another remarkable day. We made our way down the river fishing. Coming to a stop at a backwater braid. It was here that I experienced what I'd like to say is a profound moment when I realized once again what I already knew, I'm not cut our for the city life. Anchored in a riffle casting dry flies to beautiful sipping Cutthroats while listing to a live recording of Neil Young made my arm hairs stand straight up, it was intense. You'd find yourself casting to the beats to magically hooking up at the beginning of a guitar solo and fishing it all the way through the climax of "Cortez the Killer", this is something that will never be able to be duplicated, this is something that I will always remember, this is something that money cannot buy. I'm not sure how the rest of the day went, I was a bit side tracked. The scenery on the row out was a testament of nature beauty and only enhanced the thoughts of adventure. My mind was on the magical riffle, where Neil and the fish were, where I wished I were, where I hope to return to.

Monday, July 21, 2008

South Fork of the Snake - Part one

Many of my trips are with friends and I thought it be cool to see what it was like from their perspective... and to save my fingers from typing the same old stuff ; )


With tales of nickel hail.

Dust to dust. And to the rain. And to the wind.

It was a fairly easy jaunt from the mountain to the city; I’d beat the punch of the early morning risers. The road was dark, but clear as night. Excluding a rear taillight & half my conscious mind, we were safe. Mr. fishing buddy was wide-awake & waiting for the sound of a busted head gasket, or broken tippet. I arrived as quiet as a mouse & wee loaded the bear necessities for another “wherever we land” type angling journey. The endless pursuit of the mightiest of fish. A quest, a journey & an ever eager cast toward any & all answers we might ask while casting a flurry of wild hair at our most wide eyed prey. A morsel. Feed.

I’d been fishing with Bryan enough over the summer to know that he had an agenda, a very serious agenda. Hooking fish, hooking good fish & landing a lot of good fish were 1st & the up-most priority. But, & let me stress BUT, we were really up in the air on this journey, this one had no set direction. East, West, North or South? May as well unfold a map, close our eyes, drop a finger & ponder no further…just drive, and that’s exactly what we did. It was a unanimous decision.

The destination was set & what a fabulous place it would be. We made the hasty decision while descending the lower end of the back half of the 1st sister. Good thing we acted when we did, u-turns on a 12-lane highway are not easy labor…or safe. We were headed towards names rock, in rattlesnake country, where even the gnarliest of wading boots would crumble within minutes & Indian braves once warned thee white man of great spiritual presence & angst. A personal memorial to one of thee west’s great explorers, a homicide carved on a stone. If only they’d known of the true gold treasure we were after. The one stolen from under them like some $10 rug or dried out jug of whiskey. A theft, one of histories most thuggish thefts. I swallow with a forked tongue. Tar nation & Judas Priest.

To be honest, an extremely peaceful place. Once again I felt safe, we’d escaped the mystique & flume of the fiery angling mob. Cruising in the right direction. Straight to free. Down the road.

The brave highway gave forth to many unsuspecting dreams & ‘ol lore. The blue fork of the East fork was hallowed water. Water as deep as the sky is wide & slow as a day goes. A shallow water boat eater. A true thug of a river & a water that held true barracks of trophy trout. Well-conditioned trout that looked that they’d went through some sort of top-secret military training. We breached the curtain of protection & drifted out in to



Christopher Andelin - 08


A big thanks to Grizz for writing a little something for my blog and the opportunity to go on one of his adventures.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 2 - Salmonflies and Cicadas and Drakes.. Oh My....

It was dawn when the alarm started its irritating beeping noise…well, not quite dawn yet but close enough. I have been sitting at my desk with one eye in a full deep sleep, when I heard Nate's truck coming down the street in the early silence of the morning. Yesterday was a long day, today is going to be the same…although I don't mind long days and to clarify a bit, it was actually a
long epic day. The drive to the Salmon fly oasis once seemed like the longest redundant drive ever. Nowadays, the two and a half hour-ish drive goes by pretty quick and today it was flying. The thought of casting big foam flies didn't help with the uncontrollable anxious feeling that I am having. Top water action is one of my absolute favorite ways to catch fish... many hours have been spent day dreaming of this scenario, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this one. Today is one of those rare days where it actually might happen, again... yes I am a bit spoiled but many days go by that are not so kind. One out of many isn't too much to ask for.

The river was an empty playground; once again nobody else was around. We picked a spot, rigged up and headed to the water. I am not all that prepared today. I've neglected my fly supply and haven't had a chance to make it to the shop. Yesterday I ran out of all my mid-sized Salmon fly patterns. I had no choice but to stop at Cabelas, as they were the only shop open that late. To my surprise it was doom at first glance into the lonely fly bin containing a less than par Salmon fly selection, one pattern is all they had. It wasn't like they were out either, it appears that they just have a poor selection…I wish Fish Tech was open 24/7. I had no choice but to tie on the foam thingy in disgust. Nate on the other hand has a sick pattern he tied last night, a low profile foam body with all the right characteristics. I on the other hand have a box full of Montana and Idaho patterns that are way to big for these little guys and a half dozen overpriced excuses for a pattern.

The fishing was fantastic. It was one of those days where everything just worked out. My six flies that I bought at Cablelas were gone in less than an hour… Chewed to pieces, literally…. OK, I broke one off, maybe two. A fly would last a few fish before the body and bullet head were totally obsolete. So there I was starring at my box, full of flies that are way too big for these fish, when through dense dense hackle, buldgingfoam and poly posts I saw it. Cheech's science experiment was staring at me, it was the right size and the right colors. That fly took some names that day, not that I was surprised though. I have learned that when the man says, "try this" you take it. Sometimes they look a little out of the ordinary but they all have their place when the time is right. Today was one of those times and I was again grateful to my friend and his tying disease. The fly held up for the remainder of the day, there is something to be said for quality. Nate's pattern worked just like it was designed to, awesome. After catching off the top on the big deep holes, Nate tied on a little something-something. Low and behold a fish, then another. So at each hole we'd fish the top and toss the something-something. It was interesting to see the difference in taste of these little Browns. Each big hole produced a few on top and a few underneath. Rather than rigging a full nymph rig, we'd tie on a big heavy nymph and fish it like a streamer/nymph/Czech/whatever-you-can-think-of. It was entertaining to say the least, sure am glad I'm fishing with Ralph. He's a pretty smart guy with interesting tactics. I have much to learn.

Even though the fishing was off the hook, no pun intended, I was focused on snapping some pics. The light was good, big bugs were out and Nate was killing it, there was a ton of different stuff to choose from so I tried my best to take advantage of it. The practice is good form me and I really enjoying trying to "get the shot"…. But seldom do. What I do get is a ton of practice in learning, which I really enjoy. Today I learned a ton about taking pics and even more on how to fish by observing Ralphy through the lens.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Salmonflies and Cicadas and Drakes.. Oh My....

The three-hour drive to the water went by faster than normal. My thoughts were filled with Salmonflies, fish and more Salmonflies. My buddy DK from work came along, he's just getting back into the fishing thing and with the big bugs popping I figured there is no better time to hit the water

Arriving at the river things looked well, flows were high but nothing to fret and everyone is concentrated in the upper stretches of the river system, perhaps they don't know. Just when we started to look for the big bugs one hit the windshield, alive and well it tucked itself between the windshield wiper blades and enjoyed the free ride down the canyon. Driving down we encountered a few more, drove down some more, and observed some more … but where to start? So many times this year I have miscalculated the hatch. I'm either too far behind it and the fish are already stuffed to the gills or I'm in it and the fish are not keying in or I'm too far ahead and I spend the rest of the day driving up and down the river searching. So this time I was a bit cautious on the entry point, we decided to take our time and inspect the entire river. After who knows how many stops, a few u-turns, a phone call or two and possibly too inspections,we narrowed it down to a few miles. Then we finally just picked a spot and hoped the stars are aligned; by this time we just wanted to hit the water, so if this isn’t it, then oh well.

Pretty much right out of the gate it was crystal clear that we were right where we should be, smack-dab in the middle of the hatch with the fish on them. So you known what that means, no dropper, no weight, no two-fly tangle rigs, just one beautiful size #6 dry fly, or should I say foam fly. For the rest of the day it was just good fun fishing. Golden Stone's, Salmonflies, and Drakes were all coming off and Cicadas were filling the backgrounds with powerful sounds of natures finest music… it was loud to say the least!

The water was a bit high and somewhat turbulent but the great fishing out weighted any insignificant complain. It was actually a fun challenge; sometimes the only way to make it up river is to use the nearby trees/brush as a "helping hand".
Basically, you hold on to the vegetation and pull yourself along until your at a save spot, usually a lone rock somewhere in the mix of the white water or a small indentation on the bank…. And try not to think about "what if the branch breaks".... So far, so good.

By mid afternoon the fishing went from great to all time. Now the fish size here is not of "trophy" status but who the hell cares anyway. These 8 - 16" fish are fat and strong, so healthy and they put up a burly fight… they have the home court advantage and school you from time to time. Slapping the water in any pocket got a direct response and it kept the leapfrog game moving at a fast pace. Who knows how many fish were caught, nobody was keeping track but the fast fishing was very welcomed and the large flies were a sensation. A day to remember…funny though, I forgot to get pics of fish, I had bugs on my mind I suppose ; )