Home Waters

Wow - it has been over a month since I last fished Cheeseman Canyon - early July to be precise - which is something that hasn't happened in a long time. With a trip back home to Utah, a serious work-load and several weekends spent in the high-country, it stands to reason that my 'home waters' would not get the lovin' that it deserves.

Time to kiss and make up (cue the cheesy 70's porn music) and satisfy this hunger for some familiar fare.

Ok, so this time I managed to get us to the water at the perfect time - before the sun had risen, yet still light enough to see the water perfectly. And what we saw was not conducive to a happy homecoming: the flows were down, and the fish were few and far between. On top of that, the fish that were there showed more paranoia and skittishness than a season's worth of Intervention episodes.

On the plus side of things, they were all very nice fish - in the 15+ inch range. There was nary a wee-fish to be found.

So, we rolled up our sleeves and went to work, where Eva and I combined to lose a lot of fish to popped hooks and broken lines. The night prior, I had tied on a leader (6x) that I had bought quite some time ago, and it's been in my pack ever since. Also, I don't think the quality was all that great to begin with, so after the 4th fish snapped my tippet off at the leader, I changed it out. And guess what? no more snapped lines.

I also neglected to put on a new indicator - which I didn't realize until mid-afternoon. Like a BB rattling around in an empty tuna can, the thought finally soaked through my thick skull that I had been fishing sans an indicator since mid-morning. And you know something? I kinda liked it, in a sick, twisted sort of way.

For the most part, I would qualify the fishing as slow - simply because of the small number of available targets, and their level of anxiety. As far as flies went, PT's and midges were it - almost everything else failed to get a response (including my beloved scud, which only produced one fish all day).

And speaking of response - about mid-afternoon, I spotted a large target in some slow water next to the bank, and feeling rather saucy, I re-rigged with a dry and tossed it his way, and he went for it - only to turn away at the last second.

So I called Eva over, and we got her set up with a dry, and she started casting to him - only to get snubbed like I did. After that, we took turns tossing dries and getting ruthlessly spanked. He would come up, open wide, the fly would ALMOST enter his mouth, and then he would turn away, no doubt laughing at our expense the entire time.

After about 10 minutes of this nonsense, I had had enough. I may have no recourse when being laughed at by other people, but I refuse to get Punk'd by a fish. Dries may not be my forte, but I do know a few things about nymphing.

So, I tied on a PT, added some split shot, and a few casts later, with Eva manning the net, we had this clown bagged and tagged. As the old saying goes, "He Who Laughs Last is usually the One Holding the Net." After taking our revenge via taunts and embarrassing video evidence, he fought his way to freedom. Hopefully, a wiser fish for the experience.

You know, in the end, it was another great day on the water - the temps were pleasant, the skies were blue, and we were out on the water, enjoying Nature. These types of days are numbered, now, with autumn on deck, so every 'long-ball' day like this is to be savored.

Plus, we had some fun events that helped break up the day: a doe and her fawn crossed the river about 10 yards upstream of where we were fishing and, in the afternoon, as I was casting my line, I looked over to my right to see a large snake swimming the South Platte and heading almost directly at us. It was a day full of video opportunities.

Having two video cameras with us (sometimes 3, depending on the river) you would think we'd capture enough action to fill an hour. Nah...I'm a slacker. I do enough of that stuff on a day-to-day basis, and when I'm on the water, I want to fish. But, I think it would work in my favor to take a little more time to capture the moments on future trips.

On this outing, the underwater release shots look pretty good, so that has inspired me to put a little more focus on the videography aspect of things in the future - eventually, I may end up with enough cool, usable footage to actually make a kick-ass compilation - we'll see. I want to make sure I don't cross the line and turn my days of fishing into something that resembles 'work'.

So the river was about average for August - a bit slow, but it was still a great time. Next up, the Taylor - the fourth trip of the season, and one in which I have an agenda. No excuses and no distractions. By this time last year, I could claim three well-earned trophies (24 inches +) on that river, whereas this year, I am 0-for-1. The one pig I did manage to hook, broke me off after about 10 minutes and a scenic walk downriver.

I don't like getting snubbed...or owned, or shut out...or whatever you want to call it. It rattles my confidence and puts my Man Badge on shaky ground - which I've lost twice already this year. So, denizens of the Taylor River, you are hereby put on notice...I want one of you before the summer of '09 is in the books, so we can do it the easy way, or the hard way.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling it will be the latter.


Taylor Revisited

Ah, the high country. Nothing quite like it, especially at 4 am, being that it's still dark. And really cold. Due to a 'slight miscalculation' in timing, we wound up at the C&R section of the Taylor at about....oh....'WAY TOO EARLY' am.

Had I been the navigation officer for Columbus, he would have 'discovered' the America's around 1480. That's Christopher's loss, I guess.

So once the sun did start to rise, and we managed to thaw ourselves out, the fishing was pretty decent - the flows were down, though, and a lot of the fish were parked deep.

Which wouldn't have been too much of an issue, had my drifts not been skewed (which I want to attribute to ice crystals in my blood stream).

From the start, things just didn't 'feel' right...I was missing a lot of potential sets (or what I thought were sets) and it wasn't until later in the day, while drifting a San Juan, that I actually saw my fly outpacing my indicator by a good foot - which really tweaked my melon (not that that isn't easy to do - I get mesmerized by bright, shiny objects on a regular basis).

As for Eva, she did well, hooking her first Taylor brown and getting him to the net - along with some other fish that she hooked, but lost - which seemed to happen quite a bit for a lot of us on the river Saturday. But, that's part of the fun, right? RIGHT?

Around 9ish or so....I can't really say for sure, being that it already felt like we had been on the river for the better part of a year....Jeff Allen, of the Fly Fishing Mind of Jeff Allen and the Allen Brothers Quality Hand-Tied Flies met up with us - and being able to hang with him for the rest of day really made this trip a little more special.

His knowledge of fishing is vast, and it's really a pleasure to be able to watch a guy like Jeff get down to business. I'm more of a 'slash-and-burn-scorched-earth' kinda angler, meaning other guys send someone like Martin Sheen upriver to 'exterminate me with extreme prejudice' - I know enough to be dangerous and I have my own methods and style - 'Guerilla Angling' at it's finest (or worse, depending on your point of view).

Jeff, on the other hand, is the consummate angler - and it was really great to see him on the water, and talk to him about the finer points of fly fishing. Plus, he's just an overall great guy and it was a pleasure to get to meet him and throw a line together. If you're going to be in the area, and need some flies and/or information on the local waters, Jeff is your man.

He's also the one that bit into a genuine SUB. And when I say sub, I'm talking in the 30-35 inch range. This thing was huge. No kidding, when this thing made a run downriver towards me, I saw the water levels rise as it displaced the volume around it. It was so big, it had little fish orbiting around it.

To make matters even more interesting, Jeff was using 8x - which is a fine balancing act to make even the Ringling Brothers stop and take notice. Unfortunately, this hog made straight for a rock and wrapped his line, which snapped it clean. I would have really loved to have seen that fish in the net...yeah, like it would have even fit in the net. I would have had to make a full-body tackle on this thing to bring it in.

Aside from the constant wind, it was a really fine day on the river - great company in Eva and Jeff, and a lot of other friendly anglers that we happened to meet throughout the day (like the guys that ate our cookies with their beer - you two kick ass!). The sun was out, the sky was blue (I'm purposely avoiding mentioning the gale-force winds we had to contend with for much of the day)....what more could you ask for on a weekend in August?

Towards the end of the day, fatigue was really starting to hammer me - throughout the week I was getting about 5-6 hours of sleep a night - with the Coup De Gras being Friday night and the bountiful 3 hours of sleep that we managed to get. Water-boarding has nothing on the rigors that I seem to put myself through.

After 12 hours on the river, in the sun and getting assaulted by the wind, you can maybe relate when I say that the drive back on Saturday was a study in torture.

Hell, I was exhausted at noon...let alone at 6 pm...I kept going thanks to copious amounts of energy bars, caffeine, sugar and 'dip'.

The drive back was surreal, to say the least, including the three large bucks that ran in front of us on Cottonwood Pass (I think this may have been a shared hallucination due to exhaustion). That's right...three large bucks that were running together - which is never a good sign. Obviously, they had been up to no good, and after they passed, I waited a little while longer to make sure there wasn't a police car chasing after them.

And what trip to the Taylor would be complete without a stop at Coney Island in Bailey? Jay, I know I promised you a picture, and I made a sincere effort to get one of some loaded dogs for you...but it was too little, too late. So this will have to do (I'll post the pic as soon as Eva sends it to me). Bon appetite.


Of Mysis and Men...

Alright - so my plans have gone awry the past 30 days: extremely busy with work, a family trip back home to Utah (where a planned run on the Provo river never materialized), my new rod was mysteriously broken and....AND, I wound up bait fishing, not once....but TWICE. I feel so dirty inside.

Yeah, aside from visiting family and my son's birthday, July was a jerk in 2009.

Enter August. And the first free weekend in almost a month. Even better, Eva is finally finished with school, so now she's out of excuses as to why she can't come out and play. Also, I am in possession of a brand new rod, being that I know it will take a while for the good folks over at Temple Fork to get my other new rod repaired/replaced and sent back to me.

And lets not forget that college ball starts this month as well. Someone pinch me, because I must be dreaming - Woohooooo!

So what to do? How about hitting the Taylor River? Brilliant! Ok...so we're going to hit the Taylor and the fly of choice is a Mysis - which is a pattern that I have never tied, or ever fished in my entire 9 years here in Colorado. That's right: I HAVE NEVER FISHED A MYSIS PATTERN ON THE PAN, THE BLUE OR THE TAYLOR.

There, I said it. Ah, the shame.

So, why not? Because I'm a masochistic version of Lenny, that's why.

I've always preferred a challenge, and throwing a Mysis pattern just seemed...like cheating to me. Right or wrong, to me it would be like playing poker against those dogs in that hideous (but disturbingly popular) painting. Seriously, how good could they possibly be? They're dogs, and to make matters worse, they don't even have opposable thumbs, so they can't even hold the damn cards to begin with.

But then I started rationalizing, "...the really big fish on those rivers got big by eating Mysis shrimp..." Hmmmm....and with that thought, my moral compass went south in a big hurry.

So, having poured over page after page of information on these little buggers, I came up with my very own, uber-ultra-secret Mysis Pattern (like every other fly tier out there) that I have ceremoniously dubbed...the Mysis Pattern. A vulgar display of creative genius, if I do say so myself.

Being that I'm a virgin Mysis tier/fisher, this is either going to be a smashing success, or a ferocious kick in the testes. I'll give these patterns a few turns in the seams and see if they can produce, and if things don't look promising, I'll switch to the usual rogue's gallery of flies.

The plan this time is to hit some familiar runs at first light, followed by some vigorous walking and stalking the rest of the day - and with almost a month between fishing trips, I'm nursing a major urge to roll some hogs and my teats are getting a tad bit sore - so it's time to wean this baby, catch me some fish, and start acting like a man again.

And someone please tell those dogs that I'm gunning for them next.