Living a Dream...

Nice - fourth time in the Canyon in less than three weeks? All that clean living must be paying off for me....

Actually, my schedule has had me close to home for a bit, and it just so happens that I've had a little extra time to hit the river.

And believe me, when I see an opportunity like that, I'm going to grab it and run like hell - just like Orpah with your Twinkies.

Now, I've been trying to get some leeway to go fish the Gunnison area, but it's looking like that won't happen, now, until the end of July-er-ish...or there about.

In the meantime, however, I can go back to some familiar haunts and torment the fish there - and we all know that they have it coming.

I think deep down inside their fishy little brains, they know it, too. Which is why they always have that look of 'fake astonishment' on their little fish faces when you get them to net - not unlike small kids when they know you've busted them.

"Hey now! Why'd you do that?" is what they appear to want to say, their eyes wide with disbelief. At least that's how I filter it through my distorted take on reality.

Or maybe I've just spent far too much time alone, on the water, with creatures that have no eye-lids.

Anyway, you know the drill - pack and stack on Thursday...blah blah blah...up at 3 am on Saturday, yeah, yeah...Alpha Male needs meat...so on and so forth.

Having used the literary version of the WABAC(forward?)-machine above, I'm now at the water's edge with far less writing than previous posts and, after saying farewell to Sherman and Peabody, ready to start re-living my own Improbable History segment.

And now that we're at the water's edge, the first order of business is to study the river:

"Water? Yup...its still there and, by the Gods! it's WET just like it's supposed to be..." Yeah, I'm a finely-tuned angling machine.

Once that tedious task is out of the way, its time to roll up the proverbial sleeves and get to work dishing out servings of punishment, Colorado-style (which comes with your choice of red or green chile).

Now, today, the flows were up quite a bit from last week, and the current of the water was moving a helluva lot faster - which had me a little bummed out. High, fast water means adjusting the fishing tactics and using heavier weights. Ugh.

So, I load up the line with some split-shot and drift my fly through a happy bunch o' fish and POW! right in the kisser! And I thought to myself, '...eh, maybe today won't be so bad after all...'

Wrong. That would be the last fish I netted for quite some time and by about 11 am, I was 1-9 and getting a little antsy.

Granted, I was sticking some pretty hefty fish - plus, they were really active and aggressive today, so when you did hook one, it was a serious fight: lots of running and jumping and quite a bit of name calling, crying and ruined mascara, to boot.

Losing a few I can handle....but 8? IN A ROW? Plus, a couple of them were really sweet fish which makes it all that more painful. They would either shake the hook after a tussle, snap the line, bend the hook (twice) or, in one instance, snapped my fly like it was made of plastic.

Also, as the morning ground on, the hits were harder to come by - I came roaring out of the gates early, but by chow time, things were moving at a snail's pace.

So I decided to take a break, eat some lunch, and then decided that if I went 1-10, I would raise the white flag, flee to the comforting shelter of my home and, once there, wallow in my suffocating misfortune while I plotted my revenge.

And maybe do some laundry. You know, multi-task...plotting/laundry....that sort of thing.

Now, for the 'final' attempt before my planned walk of shame, I decided to go old-school, and attached a #20 Pheasant Tail (a solid TMC 2487). I also decided to go Medieval and changed out to 4x. Yeah, I know....Medieval Old School....someone stop me before I hurt someone...

After that, the fish started to roll on in...nice fish. Big fish. Pissed off fish. That 4x was about as harsh a mistress as money can buy (not that I would know.)...and the Pheasant Tail? They were hitting that fly like it was a speed-bag.

And they only wanted the #20 - I lost one fly, and tied on a #18, and got skunked. Digging through my pack, I found two more #20s and, tying one on, was back in business in no time.

I managed to take a few from the deep runs, but where I really did some damage was in the flats above the Family Pool, where they were piled up like the skeletons in my closet.

I turned that section of river into my own personal fish farm and there was nothing they could do about it.

The icing on the cake was that the 'crowds' were not an issue - where I was, I saw 3 people all day. It was the kind of day that dreams are made of...provided you dream about fishing, and not about being chased by rabid clowns, having your teeth fall out or, God forbid, Carrot Top.

So, having narrowly averted a stint in the 'Cone of Shame', I can rest easy now. But that doesn't mean I still won't plot against them while doing my laundry.


...Let Slip the Dogs of War

Ok, so my plans to make it out to fish the Gunni (or whatever other water Bigerrfish was going to subject me to) fell through for this weekend, so as a back-up plan, I set my sights on the Canyon.

Which isn't a bad thing, since I have some unfinished business up there with some aquatic life that I won't name....simply because I'm not a fish whisperer and privy to their identities, so labels such as Fish 1, Fish 2 and "...the bastard that snapped my line..." will have to do.

Let me recap: at the end of June I went in there and barely escaped with 3 netted fish after a long, hard day of fishing.

Last Friday (7/9), I went in there, all touchy-feely, and wound up getting smacked around like a Rodney King pinata at an LAPD birthday bash.

Going 0-5, in as many hours, was like waking up in the morning to find a naked Nancy Grace passed out next to me - the disgust and self-loathing was almost too much to bear.

It's obvious that the distractions of the past four months have softened my angling edge, and I've been fishing like a metro-sexual daintily sipping his double-latte-mocha-sheeple-frappuccino while browsing antiques, INSTEAD OF the aggressive, testosterone-laden Guerilla Angler that I truly am.

Plus I was slinging some...er, 'defective' 6x that snapped at the slightest sign of tension. Hell, it seemed like I could say one bad word and the line would cower and snap on it's own. Stoopid sissy line...

It's high-time I refocus and don the 'War Face' again - Sun Tzu and his battle philosophies be damned - we're talking a full-frontal assault, Ladies, and it ain't going to be pretty.

Back to the 5x? What took me so long? Jimmy Dean breakfast biscuit with extra, extra bacon? Alpha Male thrives on meat products. Throw in a super-sized pinch of cope to go with the coke, and some uber-aggressive tunes for the drive up, and I can literally feel the short-hairs growing as I drive.

Once on the water, I saw that the flows were down considerably from last week - and that's a good thing, since the fish tend to bunch up tighter in the deeper runs, making them easier to pick off.

On top of that, they were all active - feeding and moving within the columns. Yet another plus. [insert evil laughter here]

My first 3 casts all stuck a fish - sure, I lost two of them (and my flies) but that's a really good sign. Turns out, those first few hours on the river were beyond crazy - fish on, fish off, fish on, line snap, fish on, get him to net....lather, rinse, repeat.

Some were small (8 inches or so) and some were big. And some even made the big ones look small. And you can bet your sweet arse I tried for every last one of them.

I didn't get the video that I would have liked to have captured, for two reasons. The first is because I'm an idiot - apparently, I left the camera in record mode several times, and when I went to film the catch, I pushed the record button which actually paused it. Yeah, I be educated.

Secondly, with the summer crowds around, I feel a little stupid filming myself - especially when the other folks around me aren't having the same luck that I was. Blog or not, I don't want to look like an asshat if I can help it.

Anyway, around 11 am, the fishing slowed considerably, and by 1 pm, it ground to a complete stop. Oh, the fish were there, to be sure, but they weren't taking anything, which just made it frustrating as hell...and a good time to call it a day.

All of the fish I took today were caught on 1 of 3 flies - BDSP, the Black Mamba and a silly little worm that I threw together late last night while watching a rebroadcast of a Big Tenleven-Twelve(?) football game (when I should have been sleeping).

Although a really simple tie, it was deadly when I still had them in my box - #20 200R TMC hook, with tan 8.0 ultra thread and then wrapped with micro tubing. That's it. And it tore through them like black coffee and a bran muffin through your plumbing.

Not that I'm familiar with your plumbing and how it handles coffee and bran....eeew.

After that, the BDSP and Black Mamba did all of the heavy lifting - if the fish didn't take the scud, I switched out to the Mamba and scored a hit. When the Mamba stopped producing, I switched to the scud...

The two biggest trophies of the day were on the Black Mamba - one, put up a fight and ran me down the river before breaking my line (I got THAT on video), but the other, a nice 20+ fat, squishy rainbow wasn't so lucky.

Overall, it was a great day - I got my revenge through a vulgar display of superiority over aquatic denizens that run on instinct and have the brain the size of a pea. Which qualifies me for a management position.

Alpha Male is at peace.


Two States and Two Rivers

Vacation time - it's always good to get away for some R&R. In my case, that means heading back to Utah to spend time with family and friends.

Good food, small-town parades, roller coasters and swimming are all on the menu, along with a large dose of fireworks for the 4th.

In other words, exactly what a summer vacation around the 4th of July should be like.

And this time around, I made some plans to hit the middle fork of the Provo river, which is the section between Jordanelle and Deer Creek reservoirs. For those that may not know, the Provo river is labeled Blue Ribbon water due to the amount and/or size of the fish in some sections.

Except for the 5th of July, which is when I went.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - it's been a strange year for weather in the high country, and Utah is no exception. With a considerable amount of snow-pack still left on the Wasatch mountains, and with the reservoirs filled to capacity, the flows on most rivers are still up.

Including the Provo.

Along with high water levels, the clarity of the water left a lot to be desired. And for a sight-nymphing fool like myself, this is not good. Suffice it to say that the day ended in a shut-out.

Now I'm sure some of you streamer-heads out there (Josh) would have some decent luck, but for me and my sissy nymphing techniques, it was game-over by about 8 am.

Which is alright, because I had planned on hitting the Frying Pan on our way home, which just happened to be my son's birthday.

Since his Kid's Day outing back in June, Tristan has been begging me to take him to the river, but I've been hesitant due to the run-off.

Plus, I wanted to make sure I had him on some water that a) had a ton of fish b) was clear enough to see them and c) you didn't have to hike a mile to get to.

Enter the Frying Pan, where the water is clear and cold and there are more fish than you can shake a rod at. And, as I mentioned before, it was his birthday and wouldn't you know it, he happened to get a brand new pair of waders as a present! How convenient!

So we wound up on the river a little after 11 am, and found ourselves on a nice little bend just below the Toilet Bowl and flats. And in the water before us, were a lot of fish, which was perfect for a 7 year-old newbie.

While most of them were average in size, quite a few of them were pushing the 20+ mark - and for those of you that are familiar with the Pan, you know those fish are FAT and can bend a rod like nobody's business.

The twisted freak inside of me was hoping Tristan would stick one, while the rational father in me was praying he wouldn't. Sporting a 7.6 ft 4 wt and a reel made of plastic, the last thing I wanted was for him to hook a sub. Sort of.

His set-up: 7.6 ft 6x leader with about 8 inches of 7x tippet and one fly: the Black Mamba. I also gave him a larger, yellow foam indicator (but not too big), which is what I instructed him to watch.

At this point, I basically turned him loose and, standing a few feet away, I watched, as he side-cast his line up-river, and missed a take as his fly drifted down.

"Remember, when you see a fish move below, and your indicator goes down or stops, set the hook..."

After another missed set, I moved closer to him, and walked him through a cast, a mend, his drift, and a set on his first Frying Pan brown. And he went nuts.

It was then that I realized that I had left the net back at the truck - doah!

After that, I basically sat back and watched him fish - I tried not to yak at him too much, and in the process he missed a few opportunities.

One time, however, I saw his indicator drift down, curve and sink, and just as he pulled his line and said "I caught a fish!" and I said, 'no, you're on the rocks...' his line took off, pulled by a nasty, beast of a fish. Open mouth, insert foot.

While the rush of the set was on him, it also quickly turned to a bit of fear as this big brown damn near pulled the rod out of his little hands - I got over to him just in time to start re-adjusting the drag (which is useless on this reel) and trying to control the situation when the line snapped.

I know adults that haven't nailed a Frying Pan brick...and here's this 7 year-old, 30 minutes into his first taste, sticking a pig. Sweeeeet!

Anyway, we spent a little over an hour on the river, and then it was time to head back to Glenwood Springs for some sushi, swimming and whatever else he wanted to do on his birthday.

Sure, he snagged the trees quite a bit, and at times, his attention span wavered, but over-all he kicked it hard in the teeth, and walked away having scored some hits on the Pan.

I couldn't be more proud of him, and I know that this is only the beginning of his fly fishing adventures...and I plan to be there for quite a few of them, too.