How Not to Fish

Looking back over my blog, I realized that I've never posted anything of substance - anything that can be deemed useful to someone interested in the sport, or looking to expand their knowledge base.

So this time around, I've decided to be a pal and provide some useful information to anglers of all skills levels - for free. Ain't that nice? I even went so far as to hit the water this morning, to test all of the information that I am about to share - and as I write this, I reek of children's sunscreen and bug repellent because I'm that dedicated to making you a better fly-fisher-person(s). The shower can wait....

Rule #1 Don't forget Stuff at Home

I know - sometimes, when you're going fishing you get so giddy and excited your voice churns up a few octaves and you run around the house making squealing noises while prancing around like you really got to pee (aka The Pee Pee Dance). So, knowing this, that's exactly what I did this morning - I basically made an ass-hat out of myself for the sake of this post - to put myself in the mindset of the 'excited angler'.

Now, being excited about something is all well and good, but in this case, it can be a painful mistake. Research has shown that running around like a dip-shit in the early morning hours, trying to get all of the gear loaded into the truck (which should have been done the night before) can (and does) lead to stuff being left behind. What kind of stuff, you ask? Important stuff, kids, such as:
  • Cutting devices (which were used the night before to tie on a new leader and then left haphazardly on the table when they should have been returned to your fishing pack).
  • Sunglasses (which should not have been removed from the fishing pack and worn, even though HD TV looks 'cool' when viewed through them).
  • Cell Phone (the fallout from this blunder could be huge).
  • Comfort Items (for some, this could mean a flask or a Filipino hooker. In my case, it's a can of Copenhagen, which is a necessary evil for me when out on the water).
  • Fishing Socks (you know, the thin type that you wear inside your waders to wick the moisture away from your feet and to prevent blisters? Well, I got blisters on my feet).
When going fishing, always plan ahead and allow yourself adequate time to get your gear loaded up and ready - you'll be thankful you did.

Oh, and I didn't have any indicators, either - not that that would have mattered, since I probably would have left them at home, too.

Rule #2 Don't Believe McDonald's

As a kid, I always trusted that clown and his gaggle of goofy friends: Mayor McCheese, the Hamburgler, and even Grimace and the Fry Goblins. I believed in them. So, when I see a sign on a local store that says "Drive-Thru Open 24 Hours" I believe it. And why wouldn't I? Why would someone lie about something like that?

Being that I was going to hit the 24-Hour drive-through at Mickey-D's (like I've done in the past), I neglected to bring a coke from home. After all, being open 24 Hours, the employees at the Golden Arches would be more than happy to handle my dietary needs at 4:30 in the morning, right? Wrong. They were closed.

Now let me say this: my ice cold coke in the morning is akin to other people's coffee. It's my 'go-fast' and I need it to get my day started off right. If I don't have one - things just ain't right. And neither am I.

So, in the future, always be prepared and don't rely on deceitful corporations to full-fill your needs. Bring your own stuff (just don't forget it at home) and you won't end up hitting the water coke-less and hungry.

And speaking of hitting the water...

Rule #3 Silly Rabbit, Hooks are for Fish

That's right - for fish, not fingers. The last two times I've been on the water I've managed to set some hooks pretty deep into my digits. Now, it's not like it never happens...it just hasn't happened with this frequency. And never this deeply.

So what to do when this happens? Grab your hemostat and rip the damn thing out. After all, I'm now on the water without any means of cleanly cutting my line, I have no sunglasses whatsoever and I am without any indicators. What's a little tearing of flesh going to matter in the grand scheme of things?

The really pathetic part about it all? A little while later, I set yet another hook, in the precise same location as the last one. It all has to do with how I hold the hook when tying it on - the problem is, one overly-anxious tug on the line to cinch the knot, and I'm reaching for the clamps, because I sure as hell ain't going to the ER to get that thing removed. Besides, a little #22 doesn't tear things up too much when being ripped back out, especially the second time around..

Thankfully, some more severe weather was on it's way, and by 1 pm it was time to high-tail it out of the canyon - with the way my luck was running, the last place I wanted to be was in a narrow canyon, on the side of a river during one of these nasty storms we've been experiencing as of late.

So the lesson here is, tie your flies on like a normal person, and avoid the overly-spastic motions - your fingers will thank you, and you'll avoid wasting 20 minutes of your life performing an impromptu surgical procedure in the field.

Sure, my eyes were strained and felt like they would bust out of their sockets from trying to peer through the glare on the water. And yes, my head was throbbing from a lack of caffeine and sleep....and I was hungry as hell and my finger looked like something from an Evil Dead movie. But it was still a great time. I was not at work, I was outside, in the mountains, on a river, fishing.

And yes, I did manage to hook some fish...but that's not what this post is about. It's about throwing myself into the strike zone and taking one for the team. Because I'm nice like that. Plus, I'm just feeling too damn lazy to process videos and pull screen shots.


The Agony and the Ecstasy

Sure, the late Irving Stone would not blink an eye at the events of Saturday, but then again, I doubt he was a fly fisherman either - but we, having been out on the water, know better, so it will be up to one of our own to write about it sometime in the future...

It's been eight months since I've last had the chance to fish the famed waters of the Taylor, so pulling into the parking area in the C&R section essentially sent my 'Angling Pleasure Receptors' through the roof.

Yeah, this river is a kick in the pants for fly fishing addicts everywhere - it's like (insert your politically-correct winter holiday here) for big people that fish.

Having bunked-down in Buena Vista Friday night, we were up at 3:30 am to make the drive over Cottonwood Pass and into the Taylor Park area, hoping to beat the horde of people that this river attracts (and for good reason).

The point was to get a good spot and hold it for the day - yeah, I know, to get the really big fish you need to walk the river and hit the holes where they're parked.

Since this was Eva's first time fishing this river, I thought it would be good to find an open section, with good seams that she could work on and hone her drift. Plus, I kind of liked the idea of staying put, given the heavy traffic that is on this river.

So, we wound up picking a section on the water, and worked it over good through the course of a day. On future trips, I promise that we'll play nicely and let others hit the section that we were on - Eva learned a lot, so next time I think she'll feel a little more comfortable walking the river and working more varied water.

Anyway - fish? Oh yeah. There was a ton of them in there - in the section in front of us, there were too many to count.

What's really cool is that, on the HD video, you can actually see all of fish in the water - and they're everywhere. It looks like a freaking fish hatchery, there's so many of them. But here's the catch: yes, the fish are plentiful, but they're not always so accommodating.

Watching a handful of 20+ inches of actively feeding trout, three feet off the bank in a foot of clear water and they're not hitting a damn thing you're throwing their way? Agony in it's purist form.

Even more hurtful is when the fish actually move out of the way of your fly as it drifts past, and then, just as smoothly, move back into place after it's gone. That goes beyond being 'snubbed' and is downright hateful on their part.

However, move downstream a few feet, throw your line in and you hit a bruiser on the first cast. Confusing, frustrating and pure excitement all wrapped up into one - a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows, and I love every minute of it.

With that many targets, it didn't take long for me to hit my first trout. The second one I nailed was a certified Taylor hog, which I pulled from some deep water a little upstream from where Eva was. After about 10 minutes of fighting, and a scenic walk down the side of the river, my line broke and I was left with....not disappointment...but exhilaration. He was a beast of a fish and it had been a rush trying to get him in the net.

As for Eva, she did well for her first time on a very tough river - she bit into some nice-sized fish, but the line either snapped or they popped off the hook. Also, the environment is not the most relaxing to be in when you're still trying to get your feet under you - lots of spectators and heavy traffic along the dirt road can make one feel overly-exposed, so she's earned another badge of respect for braving that testosterone-soaked Angling Gauntlet.

Me, I set and lost more fish on Saturday than I have in a long time - snapped lines, bent hooks, etc. seemed to be the norm. And I did it using only ONE fly and a pea-sized indicator. Josh, I know that makes you cringe to hear that, but you know my philosophy - find the depth, nail the presentation, and there's no need for multiple flies and gimmicky set-ups. Maybe sometime in the future, we'll hit some water, and you can try to teach me the errors of my way...

Up until mid-afternoon, the weather was fantastic, but then the 'storm' came in. And it came in with bad intentions. The initial gust of wind damn near took me off my feet - I had to kneel to keep from getting blown over. And the grit (from the dirt road) that it was carrying was brutal - I felt like I was staring, point blank, into the nozzle of a sand-blaster - and when you mix that with freezing, stinging (horizontal) rain....it made for a very unpleasant experience.

Overall, it was a well-earned break - sexy company, beautiful scenery, good fishing, some hooks embedded deeply into fingers and a seriously wicked storm. Yup, I'm living a dream. Oh - and loaded hot dogs from Coney Island in Bailey? Yeah, that's a great way to round out the weekend if you ask me.


7 Days and Counting...

...until Eva and I bust out of this place and head into the back-country for some camping and fishing on the Taylor.

I doubt I'll blow the doors off the river like Zach over at Fly Fishin' Fool - mainly because of my inability to grow an uber-sick carpet of chin hairs, and the simple fact that he is deadly with a fly rod.

But it will be nice to get away, all the same, and possibly land a few biggies in the process, even if it is just a quick weekend trip.

Pitching a tent in the Taylor Park area, and fishing the Taylor River....oh yeah, it's a much needed break from the day-to-day grind that is whittling me down to a dull nub. Although it's not going to be as long as I would have liked, due to a vacation black-out at work, which is seriously starting to piss me off (along with this annoying squeak in my chair). (July 2008 top - netting a pig during a quick 'guerilla' trip to the Taylor. Lower Right - camping and riding near Tin Cup with my son)

Last September, I spent a few hours on this stretch of water and wound up hooking 4 fish - 2 of which snapped my 5x like it was 8.0 thread.

This time around, we'll have a full day to harass the denizens of the river, so the haul should be a little more satisfactory. (left - reeling in a Taylor sub)

While it's not going to be the extended, relaxed weekend that we were hoping for, it should hold us over until we can make it out again (hopefully in July). And next time, we'll see if we can't get to the Gunnison, as well, like we had originally planned (Jeff, we'll need to pick your brain, bro!).

And yeah, we'll be hitting K's Old Fashioned Burgers while in Buena Vista....which has some pretty good stuff - until I move there and open my own burger joint. Bwaaahaaahaaa!

BTW, my 5 year old son took the picture to the right, below and the one at the top, of me netting the fish. I think he may give Alex over at Fat Guy Fly Fishing a run for his money in a few years.