Old Man Winter

Ok, so it was cold this morning. How cold, you ask? Really cold. Single-digit-freeze-your-guides-and-line cold. The put-your-hands-in-the-river-and-it-feels-warm kind of cold.

As if all the holiday decorations at the store weren't a big enough clue, the frigid temps and snowstorms we had this past week were a pretty good indication that Old Man winter had silently crept through the backdoor while I wasn't looking. Stoopid non-attentive eyeballs...

Not that cold weather would stop me from fishing - oh no, being about as thick as cement, it doesn't occur to me to stay home - the allure of popping some chubbies trumps what little common sense I do have, regardless of the temps.

Besides, winter has a way of culling the herds, eliminating the fair-weather anglers, which equates to fewer bodies on the water - and this greatly pleases the little anti-social gremlin that lives in my psyche.

For every 2 anglers packing up their gear for the season, there's always a nut-case like me still chugging along with indifference. And I'd venture to guess that some of you are the same way. Freaks.

Lacking common sense, I was at the river's edge at first light - and I was surprised at the water level. This time of year, flows should be down to a Larry-King-at-the-Urinal trickle, minus all of the grunting. However, the water levels were up again, and it was stained to the point that I really couldn't spot much of anything in the low-light conditions.

Not being able to spot targets, I spent the morning blind fishing runs, and managed to pull out a few smaller fish. And by smaller, I mean in the 6-10 inch range. On two of them, I didn't even realize that I had hooked them, so at the end of my drift, I pulled my line to recast and...OOOOPS.....airborne fish.

Yeah, not a good thing. Fortunately, they both survived the G's and their brief role as test pilots.

Actually, it was a smallish kinda day - by the time I left at 1 pm, I had pulled 11 of the little fellas out of the river.

Now, when the sun finally did manage to get up high enough....the clouds moved in. But not before I managed to zero in on several larger tubs in the Ice Box. With the higher flows, however, they were down deep, but they were all active.

So, lobbing some depth charges, I managed to bite into 3 nice subs - all in the 20 inch range. Two of them got lucky and managed to shake the hook after a nice fight, but one of them made it to the net. Oh yeah!

The only downside to an otherwise epic day? Burying a hook into my left index finger, and slicing my right index finger with the 7x. Seriously...that stuff was like a razor - cut clean and deep, and you KNOW it's bad when there's very little blood. Still hurts like hell as I'm typing this.

Not a good day to be an index finger, obviously.

Ah well - it was a great last day in the Canyon for 2010 - the parking lot will be closed for about 8 weeks, so it will be a while before I get to fish it again.

Frying Pan, anyone?


All Hallow's Eve

It's that time of the year - spooks abound, on the television, in advertising...and on the river, apparently.

And spooky is a great description as to how the fish have been acting - the smallest movements, the littlest flash from something shiny, and they are GONE.

And the numbers...where did all the fish go? Perhaps the same place my socks go to when in the dryer? It wouldn't surprise me to know that, somewhere, in between dimensions, there is a pile of my socks with a shit-load of fish just hanging out around them. Laughing.

Ah well, maybe I've just become spoiled and this is actually the norm - but it sure doesn't mean I have to like it.

Weather-wise, however, it's been nothing but fantastic - chilly autumn mornings, and mild (sometimes hot) afternoons. And with the water levels up, one would expect a bonanza of fishy targets to aim for, as the browns get freaky and the fish all start to gorge themselves for the upcoming winter.

But it ain't happening. At least, not when I've been around. Now, I know I can kill a good time faster than a positive reading on your swab test, but give me a break already.

This past weekend was a repeat of the past few trips to the river - fewer fish, that are a lot more sketchy than I've seen in some time.

I managed my first catch of the morning by basically crawling on my hands and knees to the edge of the water, while using a stand of brush as my cover.

Parked in about 4 inches of virtually dead water, I held no hope of keeping him close after throwing my line - but miraculously, he didn't flinch when I tossed my fly a couple feet ahead of him.

The really stupid part of this story is, with practically no current in the water, I was forced to slowly 'tug' my line downstream, pulling my fly closer to the fish....I admit, that this is pathetic, but desperate times call for desperate measures...

The amazing part of the story is, not being able to tell where my fly was at, or even if the fish was somehow fooled by it's ridiculously unnatural movement, I set my line....and I'll be damned, I nailed him.

Surprise doesn't even begin to describe my reaction. Utter disbelief, is probably more accurate. In any case, I caught myself a fairly decent fish.

After that it was up to the Ice Box...where pickings were just as slim.

I spotted one nice fish in an outside seam, actively feeding - on the surface, it appeared to be an easy drift, but upon further inspection, it was apparent that he was feeding on the back eddy of a rock that was sandwiched between two currents.

While I strive for some challenge in my fishing...this was pushing the limits of my adventurous side. In situations like this, it's not about skill, but rather numbers (of casts) and blind luck.

The one positive I had going for me is that the fish did not run. No matter how many times I tossed my line, and no matter how often I adjusted my position, that fish didn't bolt - which is great, because I had to work him for the better part of 20 minutes before I finally struck pay dirt.

Come to find out, with damage to his eye, the fish is running blind on the right side - yeah, I'm reduced to picking on the handicapped now.

I managed to call it an early day (which was good, given my lack of sleep the night before) and got home early enough to start handing out goodies to all the kiddies that got an early start on their Halloween fun.

Truth be known, it was a pretty great day - losing a couple of fish, and getting a couple to the net. It's really hard to complain about a day like that.

The next few weeks are fairly booked on my calendar, but, I will make time to re-visit my little, squishy friends in the canyon and, just maybe, by that time, they've all returned from wherever it is they've gone to.

And hopefully they've brought my socks with them.