Long, Cold Winter

Well, 2009 came and went, and it was filled with far less fishing than I had originally anticipated. Of course, I also didn't plan on the gargantuan workload that was about to bury me, either. So much for all of my well-laid plans.

When I finally had my plate cleared, and I was free to throw a line - the weather conveniently turned nasty. It's enough to make me want to lash out during the post-game interview and make a complete ass-hat out of myself.

Which is a problem, being that I'm not in a position where I conduct any post-game interviews, real or imagined.

So I'm left with no choice but to risk my life on icy, mountain roads, since I'm a sicko and in serious need of a 12-step program. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, 2009 turned out to be an uber jerk, and I wanted to get one last hurrah in before 2010 started kicking me around like the lone conservative on Real Time with Bill Maher.

I did manage to make it up one day - and a good ballpark figure for the early morning temps would be....oh, I don't know....100 below zero. Give or take a few degrees. I think I would have felt warmer (and had better luck) throwing my line on the dark side of the moon (which is also a GREAT album).

Lunar escapes aside, I was in the canyon. And it was brutally cold. And the fishing was slow. I hooked one (count 'em! ONE) fish all day, and that sucka' managed to break my line almost as soon as I set the hook.

I did meet up with Michael Gracie, however, and being able to converse with an actual flesh-and-blood life-form made the day swing by. Also, by chance, I ran across Jerry, the father of one of my son's school mates, which was a nice surprise. With two actual people there, it gave my imaginary friends a well-earned break. Now, if I could just get the Shadow People to take five...

Jump ahead a few weeks - and again, things are not panning out like I had hoped. Unforeseen work, unusually cold weather, a garage door that decided to bust a spring and some hinges....what the hell?

I also have a several pages of this blog that still need to be wrapped up and posted...I have a few more flies I need to finish tying and sent out to some folks....barely into 2010 and I'm already behind the 8-ball and feeling more disorganized than a group of ADHD sufferers trying to put together a pinata party.

Such is the life of a single parent.

As you can imagine, when a small window of opportunity presents itself, I'm all over that like Jerry Lewis on the percocet bottle in the 23rd hour of his telethon.

Bag packed? Check. Gear loaded? Check. Ready to fish? Hell yeah!

We got to the river a little later than normal and, of course, there's already throngs of people piling in. We look like a bunch of pioneers participating in a Government-sponsored land-grab, double-timing our way to the water, with nervous glances over our shoulders, while desperately trying to beat each other to the river's edge. It's pathetic.

Since my usual starting points were already taken, Eva and I moved up river, and found ourselves on a nice little stretch of the Ice Box, with it's deep runs, and overly-large fish. And let's not forget the nasty drifts and currents.

Let's digress and talk about those for a minute, shall we?

We all know that the deeper you go in a river, the faster the water is moving. Now, throw in a ton of large rocks, numerous currents and several deep cuts, and you should get the picture: the drifts down low in this type of water are an absolute nightmare.

What appears to be fairly predictable water on top, is nothing short of pure chaos the further down you go - the proverbial descent into Hell, if you will, with marriage to my ex awaiting you at the end. Ha! No, no....I'm joking of course.........

And, since nothing can ever be easy in this sport, this is also where the really big fishies love to hang out. And this is where we started our journey.

Eva started off by fishing to 3 large fish (25-30 inch range) in about 4-5 feet of turbulent water. I was aiming for a group of 6-7 nice-sized fish (18-20 inch range) in a seriously nasty current (that made Marty Feldman's eye's seem straight) while perched atop a rock, between two massive boulders. This gave me a window of about 10 feet (right to left) through which I had to cast my line.

Here's the catch - the water is moving fast, and the fish are in about 4 feet of water, which means I have to have enough weight on my line to get the fly down far enough (and fast enough) before my line wrapped the rock to my left (which happened a lot). A study in futility to say the least.

The current(s) was an altogether different story. It took me a long time and a bajillion casts to finally figure it out, and by that time, the sun had broke the clouds and was positioned perfectly above to where I could actually get a nice view of the fish I was after.

Problem was, they wound up seeing me, too, and a few of them left to go play someplace else.

During all of this, I heard Eva let out a yell and, glancing up, I could just see her line from around the boulder to my right, as it cut it's way through the water....and then snap. Talking to her later, I found out that it was a smaller fish that she had hooked and not one of the freaks in the channel in front of her. Regardless, good job Eva!

So, focusing back to the task at hand....I had good light, and I now knew where I needed to get my line in the water. I felt comfortable with the timing, and placed some faith in the mighty little Zebra that I had just tied on.

And then the Fish and Game dude showed up, which cost me another 5 minutes as we chatted and he checked my license. After he left, I prepared to cast my heavily-weighted line - which subsequently tangled up on me. I tell ya, sometimes it's almost like I wished I had just stayed in bed.

After an eternity of un-raveling my line, I finally got my fly into the water and, as it turned in the drift and started heading down stream, a previously un-seen shape darted up from some dark water and, just as quick, turned downward again....and I set my line. And I nailed that SOB.

And then it occurred to me that, this was the most idiotic place to be trying to hook a fish. I couldn't move from the rock I was on, and if the fish ran to my right or left, I was screwed. My sister is right - I really am an idiot.

Fortunately for me, this fish ran straight out from me...whew. He jumped a few times, which Eva saw from around the boulder, so she immediately came around to my side with the net.

It took a little jostling and turning, but I finally managed to get this pig over the net that Eva was holding and we got this guy bagged...just as my line snapped. At first I thought the hook had popped, but I looked at my line and saw that it had broken off at the fly.

Eva had to take the net off the rocks, downstream and around the boulder to get to some shallow water, and it was there that she attempted to remove the hook - and he bucked out of her grip and away to freedom before we could get any pics or video. Ah well.

Nice fish, though...18-20 and fat. Like a Frying Pan football, with an extremely dark top. He reminded me of the paint scheme on the old P-51 Mustang, with the olive top coat and polished aluminum sides and bottom.

(As a tangent, there's not much I wouldn't do to climb behind the controls of one of those old birds - and a few years back, while fishing in the canyon, I actually watched a ballsy pilot flying his Mustang - red tail version - down the canyon. It was an incredible sight.)

By this time, the sun had moved back behind the clouds again, so I switched out to the BDSP. I could still see one of the larger fish down low against the sandy bottom, but I had completely lost sight of several others along the dark seam of the mossy rocks below. The guy down low was an impossible target, so I was left trying for the fish that I knew were there, but couldn't see. Ugh.

After about ten minutes of casting, I managed to finally hit another one and, as luck would have it, he immediately darted around the boulder to my left. Snap.

Think I would learn my lesson? No way. I'm stubborn AND stupid! Woohooo! So I tied on another scud, and went back at it.

This time, it was about 20 minutes before I hit another one. And it was the big one parked low. I didn't intend to hit that one...and I never dreamed that I would be able to nail him...and I was completely caught off guard. How my fly wound up down there by him, I will never know. But it did. And it was in his mouth.

And then the strangest thing happened - something I've never seen before...and likely, never will. Rather than running, like fish normally do, this one stayed put. Instead, he started violently shaking his head and thrashing, while moving UP and DOWN in the column. And I'll be damned...he popped the hook.

And then he settled back down again and resumed feeding, as if nothing had happened. Me and my hook were a minor distraction to him - he wanted nothing to do with my nonsense, and he totally brushed me off.

That tripped me out. As I type this, I'm still just shaking my head in disbelief. I totally got owned by a fish.

The fly itself, did not escape unscathed. I pulled my line in, thinking maybe my tippet had snapped. Nope. There was the fly - and it was in bad shape. The backing was torn and the wire ribbing had been broken. It's also missing some dubbing from the rear, too.

I can only wonder if anyone else has experienced something like that? Bizarre....and a flash of intelligence that is actually a little disconcerting, to say the least.

Anyway, Eva (above, looking like a Ninja Angler) managed another hook-up, but that one popped her hook as well. I managed another one before the day was out...but alas, once again the rocks were my bane.

Not a lot of photos...and just a lot of stories. But sometimes, thats what this sport is about - and on the drive home, Eva had to remind me that, at it's core, it's about the personal experience, and not the showmanship that one would like to present in a public forum.

And she's right. This time, anyway.

Next time is a different story, though!