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.