Wednesday, December 19, 2012

End of the World Avoidence Scheme

Word has it the world comes to an end at the end of the week. Friday to be exact. I don't know what time. Coming to terms with this fact just made me realize that I have apparently unknowingly, or maybe subconsciously, arranged to be in flight on that day. This doesn't protect me from all possible end of world scenarios, but it could at least prolong my life a couple hours if not spare me outright. If  When something happens here on earth on Friday I have arranged to be 30,000 feet above, looking down on all you sorry suckers.

If an asteroid hits, or there is global thermo-nuclear war, or the volcano under Yosemite blows, it won't matter where I am. In the more likely scenario of a zombie apocalypse it also probably won't matter. But there's always a chance, and every little bit helps.

I was also well prepared back in May when there was another scheduled complete extermination of the earth.  Then too I was 30,000 feet up in the air. My subconscious is apparently very good at prepping for these catastrophic events!

See you in the post-apocalyptic world.  Oh wait, no I won't, cause you will all be long gone.  Enjoy your last couple days!

In the unlikely event that none of this comes to pass, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Price of Fame

When you hit it big there are unfortunately some downsides and I have recently learned this after hitting it big with this blog.  Did you not notice that this blog blog had hit the big time?  Well, it has.

It all started a couple weeks ago when I noticed I had a couple comments from new people saying they were going to start reading the blog.  Great!  Then I randomly looked at my stats page, like I do a couple times a year for kicks and was stunned to see this graph of my blog views:

You have to ignore the huge drop at the end cause that's for only 4 days (and no posts) of December. Look at that exponential increase over the last couple months! Finally my genius is being rewarded! And this was about the time I noticed my comments page was blowing up. Of course I went to check out the comments to read all the bloviating glowing comments about my writing prowess. And glowing they were. Except they were all oddly vague. Sort of the type of comments you could write and then post to any random blog you stumbled upon. Then I noticed they all had links to the commentors purported blog as well.

And that was the point I realized I was getting SPAM-ed and that I wasn't as cool or popular as I thought.  Sad day.

But I do find it curious and interesting why/how I got hit by all these SPAMers all at once. Does someone really pay people to go out and do ridiculous things like this? It's almost as dumb as the company that was paying people to surf the internet back when I was in college. Being engineers we of course figured out all kinds of ways to get past the requirements of keeping the mouse cursor moving and navigating to new pages every so often while we were away at class.  I actually made a few hundred dollars doing nothing, and it was awesome! It seems someone else has figured out how to get past another paid advertising scam's rules. Good for them, but it's quite annoying for me. Hopefully it doesn't happen again cause I don't want to have to add that impossible number/letter test thing to the comments section. I fear it would overly annoy the three people who leave comments.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Different types of fly angling require different approaches. Different strokes for different folks and all that jazz. And being new to salmon and steelhead angling, I'm still figuring it out. My main difficulty is that those types of fish aren't looking for any particular type of food, so what in the world am I to tempt them with??? The answer? Ridunkulous conconctions. In the few discussions I've had with other fly anglers regarding steelhead flies, what I've gathered is that everyone has their own favorite pattern and they all look like nothing. Not nothing exactly, rather a hook with some random materials tied on not actually mimicking anything.

What is my answer to this? Pretend to be a mystical person and latch on to some random features. One feature I have gathered regarding salmons is that they (supposedly) like pink/purple. Sure, sure, they can't see color but that's what the street tells me so I obey. Although I guarantee no success on the pattern, here's one tying episode:

Start with beautiful pink and purple marabou for a tail, and some orange ostrich herl for a body.

Tie in some flashabou to tempt the monster fishes hiding below.

Of course you need more beautiful pink and/or purple marabou.

Finish with some pizzazz of pink rabbit fur.

And this colorful monstrosity is guaranteed to catch either fish or a snag in the river. Either way you'll have at least a moment of excitement!

Patent Pending...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What's the worst part of getting up early?

I totally forgot to vent about this...

What's the worst part of getting up early??

Going out to your car at 0-dark-hundred to get on the road for a just-after-sunrise start to salmon/steelhead angling and finding your battery dead. Ugh.

Go back inside, get out the charger because it's too early for anyone else around to be up and because for some reason your car won't take a jump and has to actually be charged (I blame zee Germans), hook up the charger to the battery, then go waste 45 minutes to get enough charge to start the car.  Then finally get on the road and miss that key 45 minutes of just after sunrise angling.

And since I didn't catch anything I assume that's the only 45 minutes of the day you can!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is Christmas here yet?

I'm in need of some new gear, but being so close to xmas I also feel the need to leave it be so that someone who loves me enough can replace my ridiculously worn waders.

And apologies for my recent delinquency in not posting for seemingly forever. I have no idea how everyone out there has been managing without me!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why do I do this to myself?

I can't seem to help myself. Wherever and whenever I am, there are always select rivers or other bodies of waters that I can't keep out of my mind. Often times there is no real conscious rational for my compulsive desires. Something gets in my head and there is simply no saying no. Sorta like a drug addict I suppose.

Last weekend it got into my head that a trip out to the Molalla river would be fun. This is a river that I enjoy cause it's a little less popular than most of the nearby rivers, but it's less popular for a reason. There are some small fish in the river, and certainly some salmon and steelhead enter the water. But not very many. There's no hatchery program (at least I don't think so) so it's all wild, and the wild fish aren't too numerous.

A main reason I do like this river is the numerous deep abysses which I can only assume hold some real monsters. I spent an hour or two working one last Sunday to no avail.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Contest Winner

In case everyone has already forgotten, I was running a little contest to see who could guess how good of an angler I am. Whoever could guess closest to the number of fish I would catch on my most recent trip would get a couple dozen lovely hand-tied flies.

The guesses came in from a purposely low 25 to a flattering 111. I appreciate the high guess and I heap scorn on all you who guessed low. The final tally came in at exactly 70 and higher than all but one guess. Perhaps next time I will implement inverse price is right rules to elevate the guesses.

The big winner is Mark Kautz over at Northern California Trout. Congratulate him and go check out his blog. The flies will be in the mail to you eventually, Mark.

And now I'll end this post with the immortal words of Bart Scott: "to all the non-believers...especially you Tom Jackson!" Better luck next time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Log of a Lone Angler

11:17 pm - Arrive at Two Pan trailhead, set up tent, and get to sleep.

8:55 am - Packed up camp, put gear on back, start walking.  11 miles to go.
11:31 - Reach Minam Lake and mountain pass and realize my legs are getting pretty tired.  Only ~4-5 miles to go...
12:17 pm - Too tired to continue. Must stop for rest. While stopped, might as well rig up and toss some bugs into the tiny stream. Flow is probably around 5cfs here and stream is 4 feet wide.
12:21 - After two casts, catch first fish of trip.  Small but colorful brookie!
1:31 - Hiked down to another spot that looks worth fishing. Gave it a go, but no luck. River level seems kinda low.
3:04 - Now about 11 miles from the trailhead, find a good spot to camp. Drop gear, put on waders, and walk a mile downstream to fish my way back up.
3:20 - Started out at a place I remember from last year, and my suspicion of low flows is confirmed.  I remember the water here being quite a bit higher and faster flowing. Got skunked in this hole from which I caught a 18" bull last year.  :(
5:31 - Fished a ton of good water, but managed fewer success stories than hoped for. Only 5 total fish for the first afternoon/evening.
5:40 - Back at camp get a fire going, set up tent, eat some food, rest for a bit.  Feeling really tired.
7:13 - Starting to get dark and really want to get to sleep early. Legs are mad at me. Head to tent for sleep.
8:42 - Nervously wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.
9:56 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing, but heartbeat is fast regardless.
10:23 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. Seems to be nothing. Remain wide-eyed.

Today's fish count: 5
Cumulative count: 5

3:51 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.
5:23 - Wake up worried there is something outside the tent even though I didn't hear anything.
7:16 - Finally get out of bed, make some pine needle tea, eat an energy bar, surprised that legs feel pretty good today. Ready for more hiking.
8:03 - Put on waders/boots/vest, grab rod. Set watch timer for 1hr 20min, and start hiking downstream.
9:23 - Watch timer goes off and I head for the river.
9:27 - Get to river and it's a little wider here, but I just passed a big tributary about 50 yards upstream. Decide to go a little farther downstream before starting so I can fish a slightly larger river longer. Flow here is around 40 cfs.
9:29 - Get first bites that are coming at a rate of about 3 per cast. Fish are 1 or 2 inches long and largely unable to take fly. Yes, pun intended.
9:56 - Get first bite by fish big enough to take fly. First catch is a small rainbow.
1:22 pm - Have worked my way up to a low gradient section of water. River is very meandering and banks are largely sandy. Lots of elk/deer track here. Also see first set of bear tracks.
1:26 - See another set of bear tracks.
1:31 - Another set of fresh bear tracks, this time with a set of cub tracks too.  Feeling a little bit on edge. Continue catching fish anyway, all rainbows.
2:02 - Get freaked out by big splash behind me. Whirl around to confront the bear that is charging at me, but see a big fish beached in the shallows. First thoughts are: Salmon! Then get a better look as it swims back to the deeper water. It's a 20" bull trout. As it lurks it's way back to the deep pool under a bunch of deadwood I can't help but think about sharks and actually get slightly afraid a 20" fish is going to come attack me. I think it was the black, unblinking eye and the way it effortlessly lurked away.
2:18 - See about the 8th set of bear tracks.
2:36 - See a set of mountain lion tracks on the shore. Find myself watching the banks and looking into the forest quite a bit now. But still catching fish and still all rainbows.
3:49 - Beginning to get feeling of Deja Vu.  May be back into the water where I started last evening.
4:10 - Pretty sure I'm into the water I fished last night. Ok, have fished all water withing 5 miles downstream of camp. Don't want to re-fish water so have a couple options for tomorrow. Can move camp downstream, but with all the bear/lion (no tigers thankfully) tracks not all that attractive. Can hike 7 miles downstream tomorrow to start fishing, butwith fairly tired legs also not that appealing. Can hike up to the lakes to fish those tomorrow, then fish the Lostine river down toward the trailhead on Monday. Obvious winner is option three.
4:36 - Get back to camp
5:09 - Pack up, gear on back again, start hiking 4 miles back to the lakes.
6:48 - Reach lake and find a place to camp at the edge of a meadow. Saw a doe on my way there who didn't seem too bothered by my presence.
7:17 - Tent set up, fire going, get some food ready and start cooking the one fish I kept today, a nice 8" rainbow.
7:51 - Get into the tent for sleep, which finds me quickly.
8:38 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something this time. Snorting, feet scuffing around. Sounds like hoof-falls, or at least that's what I tell myself. Unzip sleeping bag loudly in hopes of scaring it away. That seems to work, hear nothing else.
9:15 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing. Getting less freaked on these occurrences.
10:00 - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's nothing.

Today's fish count: 30
Cumulative count: 35

3:51 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something again. Pretty sure it's a deer but a little freaked out anyways.
4:12 - Wake up with something in camp scratching at tent. It rips through tent and is a huge bear with blood-soaked teeth. I remain frozen, unable to do anything.
4:13 - Wake up and realize that was just a dream. A bit nervous anyway.
6:40 - Not tired anymore so get up despite being cold and seeing frost everywhere. Start cooking water for pine needle tea and watch the sun line race down the mountainside to greet me. I chose the correct side of the lake to camp on. Will be basking in warmth soon.
6:50 - Go for a walk along the lake's shore to keep warm.
7:41 - Enjoy the warming touch of the morning's first rays of sunshine.
8:35 - Pack up gear to hike up to Blue lake.
9:17 - Get to lake. It's nice and calm. Will head to far side of lake since I didn't check this side out last time I was here.
9:33 - On far side of lake immediately see a couple cruising fish. Quickly put the pack down and get the rod ready. Fly lands behind fish with a bit of a splash, but he turns around and instantly darts for the fly and eats it. First fish of the day on cast 1 !
10:44 - Have caught a few fish, ventured around a bit, but things seem to be slowing down. Switch to a nymph rig with a bright yellow bobber indicator. First cast into a super deep pool below an outcropping rock, and a nice fish comes up from the depths and eats the indicator. He then proceeds to swim all the way back down with it in his mouth before finally letting go near the bottom.
10:45 - Brain finishes processing what happened, and hatches plan to tie the largest hopper pattern I have onto my dry fly rig.
10:47 - Huck huge hopper pattern into pool, fish swims up from below and eats! This trick works a couple times in a couple different spots.
11:28 - Beginning to get windy and not seeing fish.
3:30 pm - After not seeing a single fish for the past 4 hours despite walking all the way around the lake, fishing here and fishing there with a bunch of dries and nymphs, I finally call it a day and head down to Minam lake to see if anything is doing there.
4:03 - Nothing happening at Minam Lake either. Will walk around with rod in hand anyways for a while with hope intact.
6:44 - Finally decide no action is going to happen tonight. Have watched a group of people fish for the past two hours and only one catch on what looks to be a streamer. I don't really like streamer fishing. Decide to start a fire and eat.
6:53 - Notice a rise out in the lake which has gotten pretty still.
7:09 - Definitely some action going on out on the lake now. Evening midge hatch must be happening.  I grab my rod and head down there, but despite my best efforts I can barely make it out to where the fish are. This side of the lake is shallow and I have to cast my measly 4wt out 30 or 40 yards to get to the fish. My skills are insufficient, so I head back to the campfire to warm up.
7:53 - Finally exhaust my pile of firewood. Douse fire with stock of water I was smart enough to prepare while it was still light out. Head for bed.
9:03 - Wake up to something coming into camp again. Pretty sure that sounds like steps of a hoofed animal. At least I hope so. Bear spray and knife at the ready just in case.
10:45 - Wake up but no longer concerned with the possibilities of animals in camp.

Today's fish count: 11
Cumulative count: 46

3:57 am - Wake up thinking I hear something in camp. It's something again. Since this has already happened a few times I'm less freaked out. Stealthily unzip bag and tent and peek out. Can hear what sounds like antlers rubbing on tree out in the hillside a hundred yards from camp, but can't see it.
5:33 - Wake up wondering if it's time to get up yet. Not all that sleepy and light is beginning to creep in.
7:01 - Get out of tent, prep pine needle tea and eat oatey-meal.
7:49 - Pack up gear and put on back and start hiking out. Plan is to fish here and there on my way down to the trailhead, get there by early afternoon, and fish from there upstream until I need to call it quits.
8:22 - Come to a cool meadowy part of the Lostine river headwaters.  Flow is low, but bends of river are fairly deep and can see fish. Glassy nature of water makes most places very difficult, pick up a couple fish nonetheless. This is a cool spot.
8:35 - Massive failure of an attempt to jump the river. Came up about a foot and a half short (river's only 4 feet wide here). Not sure how that happened. Right leg and shoe now soaked. Wish someone had been walking by on the trail just then. Would have been hilarious for them to see.
8:40 - Accidentally step in a marshy area while fishing here.  Now left shoe also soaked.
8:57 - Call this area good. Only caught a couple, but it was fun to try and be stealthy. It was less fun to fall in the river and get wet.
9:18 - Find another cool spot to fish. Higher gradient section here with some good but very small pocket water. Nab a pair of brookies.
9:54 - Stop at a river crossing and figure might as well fish it a bit. Get one particularly dumb fish to come up and chase a skating stimulator. Get shown the door on all the other spots I try here.
10:36 - River gradient picks up to extreme and trail diverts away from river for a couple miles. I like pocket water so I go off trail and follow the steep river bank. Fish a number of spots with a little luck. Really cool place to go off trail and feel totally isolated.
1:09 pm - Reach the trailhead. Dump pack in car, put on waders/boots/vest, head to stream.
1:38 - After a bunch of what looked like great pockets and seams, and a trip back to the car to get a long sleeve since it's cold down here on the water, catch my first fish since gearing up. Small 6 inch brookie. Am very surprised not to have caught a dozen by now since the water looks so productive. Skills must be insufficient.
1:39 - Continue fishing my way upstream. Catch a few here and a few there, all brookies.
3:51 - Starting to get into higher gradients again. Makes for more hiking up and around cliffs, but for some good pools, but the pools seem to be kicking my butt.
4:22 - Lots of debris in water, not to mention overhanging trees/brush. It's a miracle I haven't lost any flies yet today. Decide to push my luck and fish in and around some deadfall. Feel proud to fish it without losing any flies, but don't catch any fish either.
5:26 - Get to a really big pool that I know holds fish and fish the hell out of it with absolutely no luck. Then get two fish chasing my fly as it goes under and I drag it in for a recast. This gives my rut-filled brain an idea. Cut off that fly and tie on a streamer....ugh. Cast streamer in, strip, strip, strip, get a follow, then a take. Decent 8" brookie.
5:45 - Nabbed a few fish from that pool, but time to move on.
6:16 - Make the decision to call it a day and a trip. Could have called it earlier, gone and set up camp, eaten some food, slept, and fished a couple hours in the morn before heading back, but instead fished an extra hour or so tonight and will drive back late and enjoy a nice safe sleep at home.
6:48 - Change out of wet and still leaky waders to sandals, hop in car, and start long drive home.

Today's fish count: 24
Cumulative count: 70 exactly

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Aquaseal product review

This isn't really a product review, but a random observation. And a ghost post while I'm out in the bush fishing.

It all started last weekend when I decided to finally patch up my three-year old waders. The left boot has leaked for nearly a year now, despite a number of attempts to seal it up. The right leg leaks just above the knee, and both legs leak fairly heavily up in the top part of the leg. Fortunately for me I prefer to fish smaller waters and rarely go in up to the knees, so I usually just go home with a wet left foot.

I located some leaks, cut some patches, applied Aquaseal, and set it aside to dry. But somewhere along the lines I got some of the goo on my knee, not to mention all over my hands. I didn't notice it on my knee until later when it had mostly dried, but I got most of it off my hands right away. No big deal though. I figured it would wash off. I figured wrong.

Here is what it looked like a week later:

And yes I do bathe, at least most days. Every day I tried using soap to get the stuff off but to no avail. I did finally manage to get most of it off, but it required picking with fingernails once it finally began peeling a little at the edges. And it's still not totally gone.

What do I gather from the experience? This stuff is sticky, and despite my persistently leaky waders I'm sure it works wonders when used correctly on waders that aren't way past their useful lifespan.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who wants free stuff?

A common pathetic ploy to get more and new visitors to your blog is to host a give-away. I recently realized my fly stock is doing quite well for this late in the year; thus, here I am hosting a give-away!

Here's the deal: I'm going to repeat a backpacking/fishing trip on the Minam River that I did last year and you have to guess how many fish I will catch. It's that easy. The closest to the final number wins a box of flies! Yes, free stuff! No, not closest without going over, just closest.

Here is the prize. They'll be in a box, but the box sucks; the flies are the real prize.

The plan for this year is to drive out Thursday night (tomorrow), camp at the trailhead, and hike in the next morning. I expect to hike the 6 miles to the pass by well before noon, then hike another 4 or so miles down, stopping a few times along the way to dangle fake bugs into the water. I then have all day Sat, Sun, and Mon to fish. Some of this will be up higher in the headwaters stinging small fish left and right, but some time will also be spent further downstream fishing slightly bigger waters for possibly bigger fish including bull trout and a chance for some anadromous fish. I talked to an elk hunter out here last year who claimed that there can be some salmons in the river this time of year, so I may waste some time in search of those. Tuesday I have to hike out and will probably just spend a couple hours here or there fishing since I want to be back to the trailhead by early afternoon. In fact I will probably try fishing the other side of the pass since I didn't last year.

Now I should give some details from last year so you can make an even more educated guess. I caught 7 fish the day I hiked in, 20 fish the next day in the river, the day after I had decided to try fishing one of the lakes and managed to catch about a dozen, and that was the trip. The other bit of info to consider is I took my small dog, Ernie, along last year who was enough of a hindrance that he gets to go visit friends instead this year. So add a day and swap the lake fishing for more productive river fishing, and make a guess in the comments.

I'll take a look at the comments when I get back Tuesday night and declare the winner. Comments will be hidden until the winner is declared to avoid strategic guessing. Tie goes to the first guess.

Spread the word!

Monday, August 27, 2012


The best friend of an angler who has painfully failed to develop all their abilities is ADAPTATION. And adaptation is what some friends and I had to resort to on a recent trip to the Frying Pan river.

At the start it was just two of us. We started out below Ruedi Reservoir at a place that looked good, and below the res most everything is good. Or at least it's supposed to be. We both caught a fish or two in the first hour, but it was very very slow. We hit a ton of what looked like extremely productive water but caught only a couple fish here and there. Not exactly what we were hoping for and not what we had experienced last year.

But hope remained alive because there had been an epic green drake hatch here last year that started right around dusk and that had left us fishing well past the point where we could no longer make out our flies on the water. We stuck around below the res for this epic hatch, and cousin John joined us right at dusk. But nothing was happening. There were a few fish here and there rising every 10 or 15 minutes, but nothing active enough to fish to. And when we got to the point where flies were no longer visible we chalked it up to a loss. Back to camp it was for a regroup, some beer, some whiskey, and some epic shooting stars. At least something was epic.

The plan for the next day? Actually nothing different than our original plan. Which was to head up above the reservoir to an area we had hit last year with moderate success and a ton of fun. It's a really cool and scenic area that requires some very technical casting and approach, but fly selection isn't as important. That's exactly my kind of fishing. So a short drive, a nice hike down to the river, and we were off to the races, and all three of us caught one in the first thirty minutes or so. And after those three fish it was pretty much over.

For the remainder of the day until early afternoon we struggled to find many more. If memory serves me right, we each got another or a couple more, but not much. Not what we had been hoping for, so despite the nice scenery and lazy time spent hanging out on the bank, we called it in the early afternoon and decided to head downstream quite a ways to another spot we had had luck the year before. On our way down there we talked to a couple locals who had been fishing just downstream of us. I am happy to report that despite our dismal success, the report from these two locals made us feel pretty good because they had chalked up snake eyes.

The next spot was a higher gradient section of river in a steeper canyon. For those of you not in the know, higher gradient means less need for being stealthy because the water is much more broken up. For some reason I find this stuff to be easy to fish. Just toss your flies in every single pocket of slow or non-moving water. EVERY pocket. If you can manage a dead drift you WILL catch fish. This section was a little more effective for me, although I think John and Brady struggled a bit.

We fished there until early evening, then headed back down below the res in hopes of a better green drake hatch. There were some fish rising, and a bit more than the night before, but it was pretty slow again. We all picked up a couple fish and had a good time, but memories of last year continued to tug on our hearts desires. We had a good time, as you can see from the picture here, but we weren't hooking fish left and right. You can't win them all.

As an aside, the picture here is a great testament of point and shoot cameras. I hit the snap button early because I could see this fish was still a bit green and I wanted to get a pic before it got away. This is what I ended up with. I would say it worked out for the best.

As you have gathered, this trip just wasn't panning out as well as we hoped. With another only sort of decent day (am I allowed to call a 10+ fish day "sort of decent"??) behind us we began to discuss what to do for the next day around the campfire that night. The plan we ended up with was to try fishing directly below the res if it wasn't too crowded for a while, then head back over independence pass and maybe fish some high mountain streams. With another upcoming day on the brain we all headed to bed and dreams of the fish we didn't manage to catch that day.

The next day was no surprise, if you've been to the Pan before on a weekend day. About one million people below the dam combat fishing shoulder to shoulder. We each had a section in mind to try, and they were all taken by at least three anglers so we said screw this and headed to Aspen. After a quick fill-up at exorbitant gas prices in Aspen we went up and over the pass and started looking for a place to fish the high mountain stream that flowed down the other side. We stopped at what looked like as good a spot as any, pulled out the rods, slathered on some sunscreen to cover the burns we had already attained, and headed down to the water.

It took about one cast each to sting a fish and they more or less kept coming. There were a ton of fish in a river you could almost jump across; it was pretty crazy. And I love brookies. They are just about the prettiest trouts out there. We fished this section for a while but were a bit hemmed in by marsh up and downstream, so eventually drove a few miles downstream and did it all over again with the same results.  In just a few hours in the morning I racked up something like 20 fishes, albeit all well under 10 inches. But there's something fun about catching a bunch of little fish from very small water where you have to be fairly stealthy and manage a good presentation. This is my kind of technical fishing. What is not my kind is what we already passed up that morning; well educated fish that will only take a perfect fly choice presented in the perfect way even as you stand directly over the fish. Give me the tough cast under an overhanging bush to a wary fish who is gone if you get close, please.

After those two spots we headed on down to give the Ark a few hours of our time, which produced about as well as the Pan had the days before. A couple fish, but slow in general. I guess the fish in Colorado are beginning to feel the drought. I hope they can all make it and I look forward to the big hearty fish in the coming years....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

I don't know why, but something about having a completely full fly box leaves me with warm fuzzy feelings inside.  And multiple full fly boxes provide even more warm fuzzy feelings.  Even the spare box is full (top left 2)!

In order to share the wealth, I might be having a fun contest here shortly....stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


If anyone were to look in my refrigerator at the moment.... well, let me show you:

Yes, I like beer. Yes, I drink beer. And as any true alcoholic will tell you, no, I'm not an alcoholic. I just like beer, and apparently a lot. Or maybe I'm in need of an intervention...

In all seriousness, though, this is a not so negative side effect of the recent overzealousness in my brewing efforts. I've been storing my overstock in a spare bedroom that naturally keeps quite cool, but apparently not as cool as I thought. When I arrived back home from some recent travels I noticed a strong beer smell emanating from that spare bedroom. After dropping my luggage in my room I went to check things out and found the remnants of what I can only assume was an IED that someone must have snuck into one of my bottles. When the room heated up a bit during our recent Portland heatwave, the IED must have gone off. I now have broken glass and beer foam coating the room. The glass sucks but is easy to pick up, and I can think of worse substances than beer to have a room coated with. So all in all no real harm done.

Fortunately the explosion didn't take out any of my other stock, and as you can see I've gone to storing the overstock in my fridge for the remaining duration of summer. Who needs food anyways?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bighorn Post #5 (finally)

In my defense, although it might seem like it's been six months since I took this trip, it has actually only been three. So get off my back! Good things to those who wait and all that baloney.

The past couple posts regarding this ancient trip were a little difficult to write because I didn't totally remember everything that happened. This one's a bit easier because it is only regarding a single very eventful day, and the last one of a long trip that remains the freshest in my mind full of cobwebs. Thank god!

Why was this one memorable and eventful? Because I caught more fish this day than any others, while fishing the least and was the end of a great trip. We were floating the river again and after a bit of a heated conversation I agreed to a crazy plan to fish 3 to B. That means 3 mile boat access to the B access (13 mile). I didn't want to do this because yesterday we had floated the full 13 and after about 6 miles or so there was so much moss in the water that it was nearly impossible to fish. Brady and John assured me that they had passed over an excellent spot that everyone else misses because of the quarter mile of stagnant water leading up to it, so I acquiesced despite my concerns. The pro to the moss's con was that we could get out ahead of a large corporate party that was going to be on the river and get to some good spots before the guides snatched them all up.

The float down to "the spot" was pretty uneventful and direct. No slowing down to actually fish a bunch of good stuff, just rowing straight there. Once we got there it looked decent to me, but nothing special. Nonetheless we all got rigged up and started fishing and within the first 15 minutes, all four of us in the first boat had hooked into fish. We continued to fish this long run with regular success and eventually some fish began to rise so there was additional fun to be had with dry flies, which was nice.

But it was one of those spots where you just catch too many fish too regularly, and after seven days of this we were getting impatient after an hour or two. What to do? Go carp fishing in the little pond that just happened to be on the island across from where we were fishing. So we grabbed my carping rod and a camera and went for a nice stroll. Not long thereafter we found some cruising carp and I was up. A quick cast out past one, strip, strip, strip, to get the fly right in front of him, wait.... The carp makes a nearly imperceptible dipping motion as if to suck something in, and SET! Carp on! He takes off like a freight train. Two seconds later he spits the hook, and carp off.  :(

Now it's Brady's turn. It took a little more effort to find another catchable fish, but we do, Brady gets a hook into him and this one doesn't succeed in spitting the hook. We proceed to follow the carp up and down the bank for the next 12 minutes before finally and successfully beaching him; a bigger net would have been nice. 

This pretty nice sized fish satiates our need for something other than trout for a bit and we head back to the river for a celebratory beer. Boat number two had arrived and the run we had been fishing was mostly taken up, plus I was still needing something different, so I grabbed my nymphing rod and walked downstream to a big and deep eddy. It was a very neat spot where a strong current dropped off a very steep cut and swirled back around on itself, essentially creating a 30x20 foot pit that was probably at least six feet deep with a very sharp seam.

After a little trial and error I discovered it was extremely difficult to get a good drift through this spot, which isn't surprising given that I was fishing over an upstream current out to super fast moving water with some dead water in between. This is always an issue in eddy's. The fly line gets stuck in the fast water or slow water while your flies are in the other and the flies get dragged around unnaturally underwater. It was also so deep and short that it was nearly impossible to get the flies to the bottom before reaching the end of the hole. But the good part was the seam and fish weren't too far away. At least 15 of them just hanging out in plain sight in the dead water looking at the food train ripping by in the current. Eventually I discovered what a lot of people already know and what I had been aware of but never really paid much attention to. Tight-line nymphing or Czech nymphing. I apologize for my ignorance if there is some difference that I am unaware of. But this is where you toss your flies upstream but not very far, then keep all your line and leader off the water surface and straight down to your flies which you can hold at a certain height (just above bottom). A tight line between rod tip and flies, hence the name.

I put on two of the biggest weights I had to get down fast, tossed the bugs about 20 feet upstream directly into the seam, and by the time they had floated downstream a few feet they had sunk all the way to the bottom where I could hold them up just a bit and deliver them straight to the fish's mouths. I figured this method would be more productive, but I had no idea how much better. Employing normal nymph tactics I had been having a pretty good time of it catching a fish every 20 casts or so. Then I caught one on my very first cast tight-lining. Sweet! Then another on the second! And the third!

Wait, there's no way it was that good, you might say. Actually it was. After three in a row I had a couple casts where I didn't catch one. But I continued catching fish after fish after fish on every second or third cast until I had caught at least 10. By this point I was actually feeling a little bad because there was a father and son fishing across river from me, and I saw the two of them catch a single fish while I was there. I could also see the kid out of the corner of my eye watching me with a slight look of disgust on his face just about every time I hooked a fish, and I know how impatient youngsters can be.  To that kid: I'm not usually this good, I promise. After catching the 10th or so in 15 or 20 minutes I just strung up my rod and walked away with a big stupid grin on my face.

I fished this hole another time or two later in the day with nearly as good of luck. We also found some fish rising heavily in the afternoon and had a good time feeding them dry flies, which they were happy to stupidly consume.

In all this time we saw only two boats drift by through out channel, whereas there were boats drifting by in the main channel nearly constantly. That can give you an idea of how underutilized it was. But the second boat deserves note. It was a big blow up float raft full of kids and two adult dads. They proceeded to go right over the run we were fishing, which was acceptable since there's nowhere else to go, then they decided to beach the raft about twenty feet downstream of our boat and between two of our guys fishing. Not acceptable, but tolerable since they were just some humyucks out to mess around.

We spoke cordially for a bit and found out they had left a hatchet or something here the day before and were just going to get it. Ok, perfectly acceptable. Then while the one goes off to look for their hatchet the other grabs his rod and starts fishing right next to one of our guys. Now we're back to unacceptable, but we figured it was just going to be for a few minutes so things didn't get heated. Yet... Things began to get heated when one of our guys decided to head downstream, so walked back along the trail into the bushes to stumble upon the guy who was "looking for the hatchet." Instead of searching for a hatchet he was in the middle of taking apart one of our rods, which we had left leaning back against the bushes and that he must have grabbed on his way to the trail. This is where things went from annoying to combative. I wasn't there so I don't know what our guy said or did and don't even remember which one of us it was, but he got the rod back and the other guy headed to their boat. There were some words exchanged, mainly from our side (understandably), and they headed on downstream. At least the ordeal gave us something to talk about, but how stupid do you have to be to try and steal something from a group of six 30-something guys when it's two kind of old guys and a bunch of little kids?

But back to the fishing... We continued to fish this spot until late enough to row out, and row out we did, under gale force winds. Normally rowing out means rowing downstream, but in these conditions we were actually rowing across stream in a feeble attempt to stay in the middle of the river. I appreciate chad's efforts and know I would not have done any better even though we ended up on the bank more than once. At least it didn't rain, as promised by our own personal weatherman, Tyler.

But the wind did blow away one of our tents back at camp. It was sadly, but not surprisingly the 25 year old Eureka tent that got blown back through a bunch of thorny bushes getting completely ruined in the ordeal. It had had a good life so we gave it a nice burial. You can see it in the background here. It's upside down and back in those bushes behind the tree.

We had another nice sunset campfire dinner along with some beer and whiskey and presented John with the big fish prize of a bottle of whiskey and a ridiculously big cigar. In all a great trip and I again apologize for not sharing it with everyone for 3 months. Life is busy even though life is obviously quite good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lights Out

On what seems like my thirtieth trip back to Denver/Boulder since moving away two and a half years ago, things did not go quite according to plan.  But sometimes deviations from the plan end up being better than the plan itself, and beg the question: “to plan or not to plan.” The Plan was to fly to Denver on Tuesday night, fish Wednesday morning on my own, then pick up friend and fishing partner Brady from work and drive up to the Frying Pan Wednesday evening. That would give us all day Th-Sat to fish, as well as most of Sunday.  A full three and a half days of fishing a great river!

But Lady Luck would have none of it. Brady found out he had a mandatory work function Thursday night. Boo. However, when fate ruins your plans it is better to think of it as an opportunity to make even better plans!  A glass half full sort of thing.

So instead of fishing something close by on Wednesday before driving into the mountains, my plans changed to taking a full day in my old haunts, then meeting some friends for dinner in Boulder, then fishing again most of Thursday.  

And so off to Walker Ranch (SBC) I was not too early on Wednesday. Part of the reason I like this place is it’s a nice one mile hike down to the water, then you get to enjoy an even nicer hike down along the river for about half a mile before the trail peters out. I walked down to the river and downstream as far as the path goes to my normal starting point. Then I decided I had all day and went just a bit further down to hit some extra water I don't usually hit.

It's really not that important, but there are a couple setups I have used to fish this river, and so far they have pretty much all been equally successful.  I’ve used P-Adams with a PMD or Baetis emerger, or with a P-Tail or Caddis dropper. I’ve fished hoppers and stimulators as the lead dry.  All attract and catch fish.  The only downside to using hoppers and stimulators is it’s tougher to catch the fish that fall into the “tiny”catergory, but that’s not much of a downside. But as I said it's not that important because I'm fairly well convinced that anything reasonable will work. This time I opted for a stimulator with P-Tail dropper. And my decision was vindicated after a couple catches and after seeing a few very large stoneflies on the water. 

This is the sort of river on which I generally expect to have 20-30 fish days in the summer once the flows drop below 150cfs (which they have), but the 20-30 fish are typically in the 6-8 inch range with a few nicer 10-14 inchers thrown into the mix as a bonus. This trip out was a pleasant surprise, even considering my expectations! I didn’t count, but in the six hours I fished I would bet a substantial sum that the fish total was north of 50. But that honestly wasn’t the pleasant surprise part. Rumor has it that THEY have established a new higher minimum winter flow, and it seems to have been excellent for the fish population. The pleasant surprise was that the majority of the fish I caught were in the 10-12 inch class, which probably increased the average fish size by 2-3 inches.  That is according to my random sampling of the dumbest fish in the river, of course. The fish were also extremely aggressive. It was fun to see the fish attack the fly, swim across a seam to grab it, shoot out of the water to gobble it up, all that stuff. They were HUNGRY and BIG.

The fishing report said this river is fishing at 5 out of 5 stars.  It is wrong.  This river is fishing 6 out of 5 stars.

In summary,









Sunday, August 5, 2012

Take life by the horns

I often hear people complaining about how life got in the way of them doing this or that fun thing. "Oh, I just had a baby, so I can't go on your week long trip." Or "work is too busy for me to take a couple days off next week." Or "another fishing trip? We just went on one!"

Well, I'm here to tell you that you should take life by the horns, tell it who's boss, and go do what you want.  Baby in the other room? Forget about it. Your boss says no to your vacation request? Screw him. If you want to do it, do it.

Take me for example. I was recently planning another fishing outing in Colorado. Yes, another fishing out. Surprise surprise. Last year I went out to the Frying Pan river in August and had an excellent time, so I figured we should do it again this year. Thus the planning. But then something came up at work. No! Famous last words. We had a very important client who was planning on coming for a visit on the exact days I was going to be gone. Damn!

So I told this client, change your schedule. Sure there are three of you and you have booked flights and planned for this internally, but hey, I need to fish.  End of story.

In the immortal words of Eric Cartman, I do what I want!

BTW, the real ending to that story is the clients had some internal problems and had to change their schedule. But I like to think that it was my sheer will that caused my schedule to free back up so that I didn't have to cancel this outing. Here I come!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Scotch Scotch Scotch!

This will be mainly a picture post. Because everyone loves pictures! And I am too lazy to actually write up a story.

I was in Missouri over the weekend for a family reunion. No, no, don't worry. Family reunions with my extended family are actually quite fun. Everyone is very easy going and everyone gets along. Especially (or perhaps even) when alcohol is involved. And it usually is.

One night we had a scotch tasting, and I'll be honest and admit that I was looking forward to this possibly more than seeing everyone. I'm sorry family, but it might be true. It sounded like a ton of fun.

The lineup was quite impressive. The whiskys were separated between Islay malts and others. For those of you who aren't big scotch fans, Islay malts are the ones that taste like burning. Of the "others" we had two blended (typically cheaper) scotches and four single malts. The blended whiskys were: Johnny Walker Blue (very not cheap) and Dewars (very cheap). The single malts were: Glenmorangie 12yr, Balvenie double wood, Oban, and Highland Park 16yr. The Islay malts were Smokehead, Laphroaig 10yr, Caol Ila 10yr,  Lagavulin 16yr (thanks for reminding me Darren), and the infamous Ardbeg 10yr. And for some reason someone threw in an Irish whiskey.

The lineup:

And yes that is a 15year old boy looking longingly and almost hidden by someone's arm.

The festivites begin.  Note the guy on the right.

So the deal is, when drinking whisk(e)y you don't add ice. It kills the aroma. BUT, contrary to conventional wisdom, it IS appropriate to add some water. The added water kills the potentially overwhelming alcohol so that you can actually taste the rainbow (of flavors). Don't add too much water, just a little, which is quite hard to get out of a pitcher like this when drinking tiny taster pours.

Caption: "Oh, this whisky is beginning to go to my head."

No, no, no, Matt. You don't drink straight from the bottle. Not at this point in the night. Save it for later.

I'm not so sure the kid in the olive shirt is of age either. Looks pretty young to me.

 Remember that guy from the second pic? Here you go:

Yes, plastic infused scotch. I don't know that it tastes that good, but I also don't know that someone wearing a viking helmet would notice the difference. I also wonder where exactly that helmet has been.

Toward the end of the night things were going way downhill. The woman in the center here was up standing on that picnic table not long hereafter. We still don't know why. But it didn't last long since she instantly kicked a glass off and it broke on the ground. I also couldn't understand much of what she was saying.

All in all it was an incredibly fun evening. I have never had such a wonderful array of drink in my life!

But perhaps if you're still with me you would like my thoughts? Well, I had had just about all these scotches before, but never all at once. Most of my previous thoughts were reinforced.

Balvenie Double Wood is the best "normal" scotch and an incredible value at $50-60.

Glenmorangie (pronounced orange-ee) is my brand, but I don't usually drink this one, rather the next level up of which there are 3 varieties. They are quite a bit better but I've been disappointed lately in the increased price. I wouldn't actually suggest this one.

Johnny Walker Blue, at $200/bottle is a rip off.  Sure, it's very smooth, but there really isn't that much taste to it. Not for me.

Highland Park is good, but a bit sweet for my taste. It's finished in a sherry cask, which is where it gets it's sweetness. I say take it out of that cask sooner.

Oban is good, but most people know that. It's pricey too at $75/bottle.

Michael Collins Irish whiskey was better than bourbon, but not as good as any of the scotches except....

Dewars: put it in coke or sprite or something. Please don't drink this one straight. Doing so might kill you.

Smokehead has a terrible marketing department. The packaging looks like some Americanized liquor, but I have news for them. People who buy scotch aren't looking for that. If you want to sell to those people your price point is around $15-20/bottle which I'm pretty sure you can't hit. Package it in a more classical style and all of a sudden people will take you seriously. Like they should. It's surprisingly good.

Laphroaig has excellent taste but is just a tad harsh on the finish. Not surprising for a 10yr and I can get beyond the finish so I really liked it.

Caol Ila is good, but nothing special.

Lagavulin 16yr is very good, but my tastebuds were starting to go by the time I tried it. I suspect it has a lot more smoky peaty flavor that I noticed.  Very smooth though.

Ardbeg is a beast and is usually one of my favorites. Unfortunately for me it was the last one I tried, and my taste buds were completely nuked. I could hardly taste it. Under normal circumstances it is not for the light of heart. It tastes like campfire mixed up with used bloody bandaids all tossed in the sea to fester and then bottled. Sound tasty? It is, I promise.

I swear there was another Islay, but I can't think of it. Maybe there was too much scotch that night for me to remember correctly.