One Last Fix...

Alright - I'm going to by-pass the chatter and just post some pics from the last few outings.

Actual fish pics seem to be in short supply in the blog-o-sphere as of late, so here's my contribution.

There's not a lot because, frankly, I just haven't focused too much on blogging this year - and my last outing, I lost my net on the hike in, so getting any type of video was really the last thing on my mind when I hooked a fatty.

Anyway, in case I'm too lazy to make a post in the next month, Happy Holidays to all of you fly-heads...

And in case I'm too lazy to make a post in the next 6 months...see you on the water.


Hoisting the Colors

In answer to KVeMAN's comment - yes, I am still alive. And yes, I have been fishing. What I haven't been doing is posting. And it has absolutely nothing to do with being lazy, or because the college football season kicked off a month ago, either. Nope.

It's mostly due to time, which seems to be at a premium as of late. When I was a kid, I always thought that growing up and being older was the ultimate score - no set bedtime, no school or homework...just go to work, get paid and spend the hours in-between having fun, doing cool adult things.

Yeah, I wasn't too bright as a child. Actually, I'm not too bright as an adult, either, but I digress...

Come to find out, this whole 'grown-up' deal is a major rip-off. Aside from not being remotely close to what I envisioned as a kid, time seems to speed up the older I get.

With the exception of meetings. Somehow, those seem to be immune to the mysterious space/time continuum that comes with getting old.

Stoopid inconsistent space/time continuum.

So, being that my last post was in....JUNE (*gasp*), I think it's high time I hoist the main-sail and unfurl the colors once again.

Don't be alarmed - that's just me using sailor's jargon and trying to sound all pirate-y and such. How that translates into me stepping up my blog posts is a mystery, so let's just pretend that it all makes sense.

So the month of July was busy...between vacations, work and travel, there was limited time to hit the rivers. But when I did manage to get to the water, the fishing was so-so, due to wacky run-offs, excessive heat/cold, the Amish curse (a superstition of mine), Fate (who has it out for me) and the undeniable fact that I have the attention span of circus monkey.

Not that I didn't catch any fish - there were some nice ones thrown into the mix, but nothing to get too excited about.

August...essentially a lather, rinse and repeat of July. However, my son and I did manage some good hook-ups (above) during a weekend spent in Estes Park, including this large sucker that took a Black Mamba that Tristan was drifting low and slow:

Labor Day weekend was great - three rivers in three days: Friday evening, the Dream, which produced about a dozen smaller fish for me right around dusk.

Saturday was the Taylor, and a meet-up with Josh (aka Bigerrfish). At the end of 9 hours of hardcore fishing I was a miserable 0-12. That's right. Twelve ginormous fish hooked....and all twelve either spit the bit or snapped my line.

However, there was a herd of sheep-type-thingies down by the river when we arrived, so that was a bonus.

Sunday, I managed to fish Elevenmile Canyon which, after a day of painfully technical fishing on the Taylor, was akin to throwing a line at a stocked pond, and I walked away with a handful of respectable fish after only a few hours.

Fast-forward to this past weekend; my nephew decided to come on out for some fishing - specifically, to hit the 'Canyon' and hunt some lunkers. It was also the weekend of the Fly Fishing Frenzy, with loads of fellow bloggers descending on specific locations, and looking to wreak havoc like a swarm of locust.

And since wreaking havoc is always at the top of my list, I figured I needed to make this all work, somehow, so I decided to split the difference, stay in Estes that Friday night, and meet up with the group on Saturday.

Since my nephew had never been to Estes, and being that he's a fan of the Shining and Dumb and Dumber, the famous Stanley Hotel was a must. Having spent many weekends here, it was great to be able to share the experience with family.

Plus, my son was thrilled to have someone with us that was equally enthusiastic about hunting for ghosts as he is.

I, on the other hand, flopped my lazy arse on the bed and watched college football, since the spirits at the Stanley are probably sick of my schtick by now.

So after a relatively 'quiet' night, we hit Saturday right square in the mouth, starting off with a hearty breakfast, followed by copious amounts of bumper carts, bumper boats and some mini-karts.

After that, it was time to hit the river to remind some fish that their pea-sized brains are no match for a walnut-sized brain. Granted, the rod gives me an unfair advantage, but hey...is it my fault that fish haven't yet mastered the art of building rods to toss fake burgers on to the banks of the river?

I think not.

Now, this trip involved a little less fishing than I would have liked - with an 8-year-old and a newbie, it was a little tough to find some 'me time'.

Most of the trip was spent tying on flies, untangling lines, and trying to put them on to some fish. In between all of that, I was also scanning the crowds for anyone that remotely looked like a blogger that was part of the Fly Fishing Frenzy.

Note to self - Fly Fishing Frenzy bloggers blend. Too well, it would seem.

By the time the fishing came to a halt, I had pulled several fish, my son (who's cast and drift really surprised me) pulled 2, and my nephew...well, let's just say that he enjoyed his time in Estes Park.

To be fair, he's still really new to the entire fly fishing experience, and I'd like to get him out again, just he and I on the water, so we can go over some solid fundamentals that he can build on. Perhaps this Spring....

Oh, and my son caught a snake, as well.

So about 2:30, we had some elk show up on the river - the bull is the one that we noticed first, followed by the cows. Being that he was only about 15 yards upstream from where we were fishing, we decided to pack it in, head back to the truck, gear-down, eat some lunch and watch the animals from the safety of the truck bed.

Several times while we were eating, I thought we'd see someone get trampled - so I kept the camera at the ready, mainly because I have a dark sense of humor and think that shit would be hilarious.

Hey, if you're stupid enough to try and approach a wild animal, and it tears you up...too bad. It's called 'Natural Selection' and it means that you didn't have the wits to avoid obvious danger - ergo, you are erased from the gene pool.

Fortunately(?), no blood was shed, the elk moved on (along with a caravan of gawkers who remained dangerously close to the animals) and we wound up calling it a day a little after that.

But a great day it was - granted, I didn't meet up with anyone from the Frenzy, but we had a great night at the Stanley, had some fun in the morning, and enjoyed some good fishing in the afternoon - not bad. Not bad at all.


Shifting Gears

It's summer - so it's time to shake the funk, have some fun, and slowly get back into the swing of all things warm weather-ish. And by that, I'm referring to fishing, first and foremost, with a smattering of vacations/camping, swimming and riding motor-x thrown in for good measure.

And maybe just a few fireworks, as well. Ok, maybe a lot of fireworks, being that I am still a primate at heart, and a huge fan of fire and it's integral role in the act of making things explode in epic fashion.

More on that in the July post...

Anyway, summer couldn't have happened at a better time - with the inner workings of my gray-matter still reeling from some heavy situations during the first part of this year, I'm in wicked need of an attitude adjustment to get me back on the path of all things righteous and less...big people-ish.

In other words - I'm sick of having to act like an adult, which means it's time to make an executive decision and shift gears back to play time.

Ironically, I can do that, being that....I'm an adult. *sigh*

And kids are the perfect vehicle for getting your 'childish' on. Whether it's playing a painful game of Ouchy Ball in the dark, or wasting an hour getting my ass kicked at Wii bowling, kids allow us grown-ups to be silly - if only for a little while.

It's also the only time I hit the warm water to bully the panfish - which is what we did on our self-proclaimed Weekend of Epic Fun tour.

As the name implies, the weekend was full of fun activities, the most obvious being fishing. Which we did in spades. We caught so many damn fish that my son lost interest in using a pole, and opted instead to just use the net.

"How much do I get if I catch a fish in the net?" he asked me, while standing knee-deep in the pond. "$30 dollars," I replied, never believing in a bajillion years he'd pull it off.

Guess what? I owe him $30 dollars. And another $10 for the dragonfly he snared, as well. Obviously, I'm someone you can fool all the time.

And once he got the technique down, he wound up snagging another 15 or so fish...with just the net alone. Fly rod? We don't need no stinking fly rods!

The highlight of the day was biting into a sizable cat that kept skirting the edge of the pond like a junk-yard dog on patrol.

Yeah, I wasn't geared up to be hitting a 15-20 lb. cat. Hell, I didn't even think I'd hit pay-dirt to start with...but tying on a version of a worm that the other fish seemed to love as well, I drowned the poor fly with a ton of split-shot just as this prehistoric beast took his pass by my perch.

And I'll be damned - he took it, which surprised the hell out of me.

The surprise soon turned into panic as I realized that this...thing, on the end of my line, could easily snap my 5wt like a toothpick. The sheer power and solid weight of that fish on my line was unlike anything I've ever felt on a long rod.

Lucky for me the line snapped about 30 seconds after I sunk my hook in it's mouth - but I'm thinking I may have to get myself a heavier rig and focus a little heat towards the catfish from time to time.

There were also several carp - much bigger than the cat - that could be fun as hell to land, too.

I just need to avoid those sucker bets that are draining my wallet so I can afford some gear.


Perfect Strangers

Yup - I've been slacking again. But this time around, I can't fully blame it on being a lazy primate...although I'm going to try my best to do so.

Between work, psychotic weather patterns and the passing of my nephew, it's been a little tough to make it to the river, let alone, show up in the proper mind-set.

Case-in-point: I hit the Canyon a couple weeks back, only to realize that I had left quite a few 'essentials' back at the truck - namely: all three cameras, my sunglasses, lanyard (which was still sitting on the bumper), most of my water, and my cope.

Yeah, it was one of those kinds of trips - seems like I'm always good for one, every year, so I'm just glad I got it out of the way.

With about 2 hours of sleep under my belt, I was up and on the road by 3:30 am...weekends in the summer are not the most ideal time to fish - especially with most of the local waters blown out from run-off.

My plan was to hit the lower sections first, and then move up the canyon before 7 am...but once I got to the water, my plans quickly flew out the window.

Levels were down. Waaaaaay down. It was December/January levels...but the fish were out in force. And most of them were big.

The first hour or so was a Monster's Ball - I swear, there wasn't anything swimming around under the 18 inch mark - and I took 'em to the woodshed.

And they returned the favor on my line. I was running 7x all the way, and one by one, after a brief run, roll or jump, they wound up snapping me off.

All of them, except the biggest of the bunch. Get this: I was a little slow on my set, so the fly actually wound up inside his mouth, with the line stretching out past his teeth. It took me a good 5 minutes to get him in, through numerous rolls, shakes and two jumps - but the line held.

Go figure.

Oh yeah, and there was a creepy little black bird who, for some odd reason, felt he needed to ride my ass for the better part of the morning. I first noticed him when he buzzed me. Afterwards, he ended up on shore, about 3 feet behind me...screaming his head off.

How do I know he was yelling at me? Because when I turned around, he was staring RIGHT AT ME.

At first it was kind of funny because he was so irritated. But after a while, he got into my head, and I started to wonder if maybe I did do something to piss him off. Cut him off in traffic, perhaps? Made fun of his bright yellow beak and he got wind of it? Who knows....

I tried to go into the pack for the camera to get some evidence, but the little shit would fly away any time I turned around. Once I went back to fishing, he'd show up again. Yelling his head off.

Finally, I decided to buzz him on my backcast...and eventually, he split. Which is a good thing, since the last thing I needed was to get into a tussle with a bird I didn't know.

Anyway, the water levels were down, but the fish were out in obscene numbers, so some advice to any of you planning to hit this stretch - get there early to hit the hogs. They're not spooky at all, but they do take some effort to stick. They're more interested in playing grab-ass with each other than eating an artificial fly, so wait for them to quit monkeying around and then tag them in between play-time.

Smaller is better right now, with the levels as low as they are - 6, 7 or even 8x would be my advice (I switched to 6 after the millionth line-snap...and the hits dried up). I know - it's damned if you do, damned if you don't...throw heavier line, and you'll strike out. Throw lighter stuff, and they'll snap ya' off. Pick your poison.

However, they're active, and getting to play some fish, is better than no fish at all - by 1 pm, when I decided to leave, I was a miserable 2 for 18. But hey, I got to ride a lot of ponies, and I did manage one real nice one, so there's no complaints here.

Next up, some warm water fishing with my son - who is dying to put the hurt on some bluegills, and I am more than happy to oblige, since I don't have to spend the week on the road...


Memorial Day / Project Healing Waters

My life moves forward - I go to work, I raise my son, and I spend time on the river, pursuing a hobby that provides me the comfort and rewards that only another angler can appreciate.

Yeah, my life is pretty simple, and it is that way because others have made sacrifices throughout the years. They've left their friends and families to go to far away places to perform their duty so that others, like myself, can ponder something as trivial as the recipe of the next fly.

Most will return home, while far too many have not. So this weekend, take a moment to thank those (past and present) that have served, and to honor all of those who have died - let their families know that you care, and appreciate, the sacrifices that have been made.

And while you're at it, check out Project Healing Waters, a program initiated and conducted by members of the Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited. It serves military personnel who have been injured or disabled, and helps aid their physical and emotional recovery by introducing (or rebuilding) the skills of fly fishing and fly tying.


Saddle Up, Ladies...

Well, truth be known, I wasn't really 'out' of the saddle per se...it's more like I've been slacking, which is an easier adjective to swallow than 'lazy'.

Not that I'm advocating the ingestion of adjectives at all - or even nouns or verbs, for that matter - but if I had to swallow one, it would have to be 'slacker'.

Unless there was a dangling participle close by, then all bets are off.


SO...my last post was at the end of November - and with access to the canyon unfairly choked off for the better part of two months, I decided it would be a good time to take a breather myself.

I was planning on taking most of December off anyway, but my nemesis, Fate, was in good spirits and blessed me with...two months of free time. Woohooo!

Well, 'free' is probably not the most accurate description...I had plenty to keep me busy, which is a good thing, being that in most cases, when left with little responsibility, I either wind up in the ER or with the Feds chasing me around the neighborhood.

Between the holidays and some long over-due maintenance on my truck, December was busy, but relatively uneventful.

Unless you consider vacuuming up one of our parakeets with the Dyson, an event.

Yeah...I really did. How am I supposed to know that, in the wild, vacuums are an apex predator in regards to small animals? I think I've identified a serious gap in nature documentaries. Are you listening, NatGeo?

Not to worry, though - she's fine. I, on the other hand, am still a little freaked out about the whole incident. Plus, I don't appreciate being the unwilling pawn of a blood-thirsty cleaning device.

After the holidays, I decided to upgrade my home studio with some new toys, and spent the majority of January transferring software and getting my new machine (12 Core! OH YEA!) up to snuff - so my time hasn't been completely devoted to inappropriate scratching while crashed in front of the TV.

I also managed to hit the river a few times, too, but my heart just hasn't been into throwing a line these past few months due to some serious distractions that I've had rattling 'round in the ol' brain-bucket.

Hey, put some BB's in an empty coffee can and shake it up real good - that's exactly what the distractions sounded like inside my head (minus all of the voices clamoring for sharp objects, of course). Annoying, right?

Yes, annoying enough that I wasn't able to concentrate - and when I'm not dialed in to the task at hand, I don't have fun. And when I don't have fun...well...let's just say that Alpha Male thrives on fun and excitement (and bacon - lots of bacon).

But something encoded into one's DNA can never fully die, and just like that, I woke up one morning with an over-whelming urge to drift some flies.

I also had to pee, but the burning desire to fish is what really stuck out - and since this blog isn't about my morning bathroom rituals, let's just forget I even mentioned it.

And while you're at it, forget that I used the words 'pee' and 'burning' in the same sentence, too. No, really, I insist.

Anyway, the desire was back but I wasn't in the mood for the same-old Canyon action. No, I was craving some uber-manly shenanigans, so I opted to make a run for one of my favorite pieces of water - hell-bent on rolling some pigs to shake the funk of the less-than-stellar enthusiasm that I've been sporting the past 3 months.

Oh, and since Eva unceremoniously stripped me of my Man Badge a while back, I was looking to get that back, too.

"You don't deserve it," she said, with zero compassion. "You can have it back as soon as you start showing some initiative again."

Evil woman.

Actually, she didn't really say that. I made that up. In reality, it was a little closer to this: "What the hell is wrong with you? Do I need to kick your ass?"

If there's one thing I can't stomach, it's losing my Man Badge, and she knows it. Hours of scrubbing, in a steaming hot shower, cannot cleanse me of that shame...

I just wish she'd do the 'trick' where she steals my nose, instead - at least I can live without that.

So, it was off to 'Paradise' - where the water runs cold and deep, and the fish are bigger and more cautious than the late Strom Thurman, waddling around at a civil rights event.

The agenda itself was rather ingenious: spend 2 days fishing.

That's it.

Brilliant, no? And I came up with that one all on my own. Sometimes, being a simpleton does have it's place in life (HA! In your FACE, high school career counselor!).

While the skies were clear and blue, the wind was a demon unleashed, looking to wreak havoc on anything and everything.

It was, without a doubt, one of the more vicious wind storms I've driven through - Highway 285 was shut down to all high-profile vehicles...and for good reason:

Even with the wind, we managed good time, and arrived at the water's edge around 2 pm...and months of listless fishing, and piss-poor enthusiasm became a distant memory as I forced that river to bow to it's Sensei.

I mean it - in about three and half hours of fishing, I beat the hell out of that water and left it in smoking ruins.

The really bad point to the whole evening? Eva had forgotten her reel, and the extra one that I usually carry, just happened to get left behind at home. DOH!

I tried to offer her the use of my gear, but she politely declined. Over and over again.

So we wrapped it up a little early and went back into town to get her a replacement reel and to get ready for the next day - which included a trip into Montrose and a day of fishing with Josh (aka Bigerrfish).

Now, Josh is one of my oldest friends from the Blog-o-sphere world, and he and I had been talking for some time before we actually got to fish together last year - and now it was my turn to return the favor and fish one of his local haunts.

(as a side note: Midgeman is next on my list to fish with - and although my lack of organization in the fly box department would push him to strangle me, I think I could learn a lot by throwing a line with him. Josh...come join us!)

So it was up early and on the road to meet up with Josh at the local McDonald's which, by the way, only had ONE golden arch on the sign. Huh? Isn't it all about the golden ARCHES? As in TWO? Needless to say, this disturbs me greatly...

Inconsistencies aside, Josh lead us to some tail-waters on the Uncompahgre river and we set about harassing the local residents with our own brand of guerrilla fishing.

And although it's fairly obvious from reading his blog, let me say that Josh is an outstanding angler - his river knowledge and angling style are finely honed and it's always a pleasure being on the water with him.

I also need to throw some thanks his way for humoring me in my need to get OCD on specific targets. Let me explain:

I have a problem...well, I have many, actually, but one in particular is with fishing. When I spot a particular target - specifically, one that presents some serious challenge - I zero in and I'll go until I either hook that damn fish, or die trying.

For me, that's the juice.

Josh and I found a curious bend in the river, that was loaded with a lot of nice, sizable fish. The problem was, they were all facing downstream and feeding on a sub-surface back-current. On the top, the water was all over the board, but underneath, it was moving at a good clip back up the river.

Throw in some wind, and one could say that it was a casual angler's worst nightmare. Oh, and it was not easily accessible due to the rocks and steep grade of the bank, and there were trees all around it. Yup...a place only a couple of insane dudes would try to fish.

But we worked it like a rented mule, and then worked it some more and we managed to hook and net quite a few of them. We also lost a lot of fish, too.

Josh showed some sick skills with the long-rod, and I'd like to thank him again for playing with me on that bend.

Meanwhile, Eva was working over a nice little spot on the river and managed to hook quite a few fish, herself. It was a great reward for having missed out 12 hours earlier on the other river. Watching her throw her line, her skills are showing marked improvement - her mends and adjustments are coming automatically now, and her drift is starting to show signs of being spot on...yup, she's got it.

After that, it was back to the trucks for a quick snack, and the 60-mile drive to the scene of the previous night's blood-letting, to roll some hogs.

Josh immediately lazer'd in on some sizable targets, and set about trying to snag them - and it made my heart proud to see him with his own little OCD problem. He worked that run for the better part of an hour, and finally managed to stick himself a monster - the fish was easily pushing the 27-29 inch mark...

After an epic battle of wills, however, the fish broke free...and if you've ever been into a beast of this size, only to lose it after a heroic fight, you know how much that hurts.

Josh did manage to hook into another monster fish which managed to break him off again - welcome to the Taylor, my friend!

I caught a few more fish (lost even more)...and just as it was getting dark, and we were getting ready to head into town for dinner, I hooked into 3 monsters, back-to-back-to-back. One and three managed to shake the hook, but the second wasn't so lucky:

Yeah, 7x, a #22 fly and a prayer. It was touch and go around some rocks, but I finally managed to get him to net.

A big fish story that actually ended in my favor.

Overall, the weekend was epic - great company and fishing that was off the charts. I've got plenty of video to process, and will try to eventually get some posted here.

In the meantime, I'm going to sit back and enjoy my Man Badge again...and plan the next trip to the river.