Sunday, December 18, 2011

Flyrods, the endless search for perfection....

During a family retreat in Grand Lake, in 1989 my father handed me his Sage graphite fly rod and said "go on over to the water and try it out..." So I went to the lake side, as it was close, but I could not get the fly very far out, the lake is so large and the wind so ever present, you need a boat really. I decided to go into the park, headwaters of the Colorado, and see if I could use it more efficiently there. I went to the edge of a nice little bend in the water and sure enough, a brookie hit this big ol' black cricket on the line. I was such a rookie, not sure I even knew about catch and release at that time, but I did release...not sure if the little guy survived, I sure hope so. And then I had little brookies racing after this fly...I kept it away from those guys...I figured it out a bit that this bug thing was attractive to fish.

So I kept this fly rod, at my father's request. And I used it a few times, but nothing to talk about. In 1994 I took a great little class in the Colorado Mountain Club, for $69, six weeks of fly fishing "school". Started out with a dozen people, ended up with four, and the three instructors stayed on the entire time. So by the third week I had my own instructor basically. It was the best six weeks of help one could get for the dollar. Classroom, to grass lessons, to Waterton Canyon for bug lesson, then three trips to the St Vrain. And they liked my Sage, said it was perfect.

Then I got distracted. I met a man with a Harley, and that led to a decade of riding motorcycles. I even bought my own, and for 45,000 miles I passed streams and rivers, with longing in my heart to be standing in water, or near water, with that rod in my hand. One can only do one thing at a time and do it well. The Sage gathered dust.

In 2008 I sold my Harley, my husband sold his Ultra Harley, and suddenly like a light switch we found empty time. In the quiet of long days, we realized that we needed something to do, and me, being the one to always say "I am thinkin'....", and that would lead us down some long road somewhere, for an adventure just about every time, I said let's look at those fly rods. My father had given me another rod along the way, and a man's vest, and we basically had the stuff to put on my husband and get him on the water for the first time. His vest by the way had NOTHING on it, no implements hanging from it, I think we had one net between was baby steps at day one for him. However he was game. Not sure he felt about it as I did, as he is used to fishing with a chair, container of worms, bobbers, and beers...going no where too fast and watching for the tip of his line to start a wigglin'. That would drive me insane, sorry about that, I have to move, discover, wade, inquire around the corner, and SEE fish.

So we started heading up to the hills and standing in water. And Harley's would roar by us, and at first our hearts would break and we would say "oh well..." But then....I would take his hand down to the waters, and we would step in and I would say "look at the fish over there!...Good spot!" And he would say "ok, what do I do?" And I would go back to Colorado Mountain Club words that I was taught, and repeat it to him, and we would start the teacher and the learner bond, standing in flowing, musical waters. He started to understand.

That began new pages in our life together. The most fun was a week in Crested Butte, which was really what it takes sometimes, to immerse yourself in opportunity to fish. We had a guide for a day, and Mike finally caught some fish on the Taylor, lower section. Then we went out the next two days and did the same tasks, much easier with a guide I must say. However the Sage rod was working well enough, and Mike's Pflueger rod was ok. Would not be my choice, but it was free, and you have to "earn" your way up the fly rod ladder. If you like to fly fish, reward yourself with a nice rod, if you don't like it after all, won't hurt to hang up a beginner rod.

One day on the Gunnison by Three Rivers he caught a really nice brown, on his own, working the water his own way, I just backed off, always a time to shut up and let someone get the space to work on the skill their own way.   He was so happy.

We went to the same bend that evening, under a full moon rising, and backed the Explorer up to the river, put on some great Andean music, ate dinner on the bumper of the car of all our leftovers, as it was our last night in the Butte, and fished under the setting sun.  Life could not have been better.  Was a moment that when I think of these days, always makes my eyes water. 

He started to like fishing with me. His vest began to be a piece of clothing to hang everything sparkly under the sun on it, which I then had to say "hide some of that stuff, these are wary fish here".... Just as he gets going I change the rules on him.

And no, we had never used a Ross fly rod, just bought on their reputation.  Which is ok to a point.  This rod has landed some very nice fish, not big ones like on big water, but nice nice fish.

So now it is Christmas again.  I do not want jewelry, I don't wear it well, seems to get in the way, I do not need more clothes, just gave Goodwill clothes I will never get into again, once being a size 4 as I did not live with a person who wants dinner every night, before we were married, so I put on a size or two.  I don't want a flat screen, good with the HD that we have had, even if it is outdated a few years.   What do I want?   Well, a fly rod.  A new fly rod.....

This summer I had a guide for a day, my own guide, just for me, as I had been treating everyone else in the family to a guide, now it was my turn.  I had been following AJ with Estes Anglers, who I just have a lot of respect for, and took him on as a guide and the two of us spent a full day on the Upper Big Thompson, with a RL Winston 4-5 wt., 8'7.    I loved it.  Was a better feel than my Ross.  Surprised me.   I think before one buys a fly rod they should use one on the water first.  This RLW had such a nice way that it cast, felt solid but light when fish on, and overall I liked it....

Now what to do with the Ross, if Santa brings me the RLW....I was thinking to give my nice Ross to my husband, and then turn around and sell his on Craig's list, or somewhere, as it is a nice rod, but mine is a bit better.   Have to think about that....I have a 3 wt., a nice Ross 6-7 wt. and a Ross 4-5 wt.   I am set for about any water, little water or big water.   Some people carry two rods with them, rigged up for different water when they hike in....Lord am I that good yet?   Not sure!   To hike up a trail with one rod and waders on etc. is enough alone when one is bushwhacking!   Two going through the brush, ha ha, that would be interesting.  

So now husband is thinking about fly rods in a new light.   I came home from using the RLW and could not shut up about what a great day I had...

Hurry up Santa, I did sit on your lap at the Toy Run and I did say I wanted a new fly rod, and you did say "it's always good to want..."    What???   Really??? 

I have been such a good girl!  Would this smile lie to you.....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter video's to keep me smiling... it's cold outside.... No going to the Big T today for fishing....

So I thought this was fun when a friend sent it to me....

Can't take the nature out of the animal, either one of these....I bet this big ol' salmon made it back to the water....the dog, he is just being a dog!

Stay warm!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The visiting Redtail Fox

On Thanksgiving we had a visitor, a lovely red fox.  I needed to take some shots of something that day for a photography class I am taking, needed some depth of field, and then there was my subject.  My sisters were giving me sibling grief when I used the words "depth of field"....they must not tried to get beyond the point and shoot cameras yet....but I brushed them off saying "what do they know anyway..."

This was my favorite of the fox

Was very funny reaction from my middle sister, after I sent her the fox in her yard photo, she emailed me back and asked me if she could use it for a Christmas card.... I sort of smiled a bit and wanted to say something smug, but decided not to give into that attitude and instead replied "certainly"...and added "this was working with the depth of field, I will show you this next time we are at your home, enjoy the shot..."

This fox came so close to me I got the shot I wanted, his eyes,

Was he so beautiful?   Thanksgiving Day visitor, from the forest to my camera....I was well pleased...


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park, aka The Park,

The first time I stepped into RMNP I was maybe nine.  I remember my Dad driving up to the top of Trail Ridge, in an older Buick, with three little girls and my mom, and stopping at the top.   It was one of those days at 12,000 feet where you could see the top of a storm in the Grand Lake area, clouds were puffy and white and quilt-like, as if the earth was covered in a white blanket.   That was it for me, I loved this place!

The Park is my favorite place to go most often.  Never leaves me wanting.  I have so many pictures that I have been lucky to have seen the shots, some a once in a lifetime for me, as I have to work and cannot always be in The Park the few days flowers are blooming, or at sunset with a full moon.   However I have been pretty lucky just being the frequent visitor.  

This was my recent trip, an early winter trip into the park and to Lily Lake, what a beautiful day.

Lily Lake


My little trout stream in Horseshoe Park

Have a great day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Circus Peanut, my favorite hopper....

July 4, 2010 on the Pine River, on a stretch of private water owned by my son-in-laws family, I happened to learn my first lesson on hoppers.  You see I am a bit of a nymph fisherman, well fisherwoman, that sounds so odd to me, fishergirl is better.  My companions this week were all dry fly fishermen, and very good at it, one a Master Caster, but never making a person feel less important.  A Master Caster knows where he/she fits in, no worries from them, they got it dialed in.   Bruce, the owner of the land said to me at the end of day one of fishing, and doing somewhat all right, hit a hat trick on Peasant Tail, well Bruce handed me my first foam hopper, named the Circus Peanut.   His words, after opening one of his so very many fly boxes, his words, "here, take this, put this on tomorrow, it's a hamburger"...meaning to a big trout it looks like a mouthful and not a tidbit.    So I did just that, when I went back to our cabin.

But I have to say on first view I was thinking "what is this thing, it looks like something from the Walmart fishing isle...all yellow and fake looking"....but, I trust Bruce a lot.  He has always taken me under his wing and in such a humble manner.  But this hopper was funny in appearance.

Next morning I went to my hat trick area, which I had nicknamed "The Nursery" as it was in front of a log, and nearby some tall grass, and that area was a little slower.   I had caught four nice trout the day before in this same spot.   But this time I approached with quiet low body caution.  Quietly casting from a crouch position I landed this Circus Peanut upstream and a foot away from the grass.  It drifted along, all yellow and funny looking, little legs wiggling I am sure.   Along the large dead tree all of a sudden was a hit, hard and strong, and a true take.  Hopper was gone and running in the mouth of a 19 inch rainbow.   Bringing her in I named her the Nanny, and she was beautiful.   That funny hopper worked!   I was so surprised and eating a little humble pie...   A new lesson was imprinted on my mind now.  Hoppers.

One year later my husband and I were given the gate pass to the locked up private water, for a week!  No one but us.  It was gorgeous.

Fall on the Pine, alone and unfished water, jackpot.

I had the Circus Peanut, my one and only, and put it on the line, went to the log area and on the first cast along the grass, bam, out shoots a huge rainbow, maybe the same fish as previous year, leaping out of the water two feet to hit this hopper.   It landed so hard on the water that it broke my line in the middle.  Dang!  Dang!  And also took my Circus Peanut, my one and only.   I nicknamed her the Cannonball, because she reminded me of a kid hitting the water with legs tucked, Cannonball!   A huge splash.

I was livid that this fish did this, stinker.   Later I put on a beetle and had some nice strikes, but sort of fished out that water.  But she was still there.  Leaped out of the water nearby, then took off to the grassy side and did dolphin leaps up and down in the water along the bank.   Maybe trying to work out my hook.   I am not sure.   I do think she was saying na na na na can't catch me...

Next day I went to four fly shops looking for a similar fly, to no avail.   Finally found a nice grasshopper at Let It Fly in Pagosa.  Went back to the river and fished that hopper.  First cast out came the Nanny, good take and had her this time.   Every time she saw the net she screamed downstream.   My husband had to help me get her to the net and made the critical error of grabbing the leader between my line and the fish, a big no no, and broke her off.   Dang, Dang, again!

But my other fly was not in her mouth, which made me feel better, now a new one was there as she swam off.

So now my search is for a new Circus Peanut.  Funny thing is the night before we went to the Pine I got out my macro lens and took photos of it, on many sides.   So now I need to find a hopper tier to make me this hopper.   It is awesome bug.

In Bass Pro I was telling one of the guys there who has befriended me about my Circus Peanut and what a nice fly it was....I got so excited I called it a Circus Penis...."good lord", I said, "I mean Peanut, just let that go by you, thank you for not even blinking"...but my husband started to laugh and I gave him "the look", but I am sure that my fishing friend thought it was quite funny, took as all back for a second...silly Circus PEANUT...

Here is to my wonderful Hopper, laying in the stream somewhere on the Pine River, under a little ice over now I would think....I miss you.  

If you can make me this hopper, I would love you forever.......


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bears can climb, fast

We encountered a bear at a lodge last summer, in a tree outside our lodge window, three stories up.   The next morning we went outside to see where she climbed up the tree, and this is what we saw.   A bear can climb up a tree in a few seconds, we saw her do this.   And down as quietly as you would wear soft aware of that when you are walking in the forest!    You see these marks, you are in their zone!

It was actually a lot of fun, from our side of the glass I should say!

Game wardens...

This last summer a game warden came to the area on the Big Thompson where I was fishing.  She was nice enough.   Had all my items where I needed them, so it was pretty easy to take care of showing I was legal to fish.  It was catch and release area....first time I have ever been checked, so it does happen.

She came to the back of my car with all my fishing stuff and just had a gal to gal chat...just like this day.

In this same spot a few weeks later I came upon a truck with out of state plates, pretty common at this turn out, easy to get to so those that don't know Colorado would pull right in, very accessible.  So I am up stream a bit, fishing solo that day, and using my good manners on spacing.   I see these guys casting out lines with spinning reels.   Hmmm I think, those legal?   Guess so, it is a lure on the end, but this big ol' treble hook on the end.   Ouch.   So I keep on working a school of nice trout and MYOB....sometimes you have to just do that, stay out of others way....  But then they catch a nice rainbow.  Take it up to their truck, wave it around, dangling in the air...for quite a long time.  I am livid.  Finally after about five minutes they get it off the hook, with a lot of work, and toss it in the air and into the water, splash....

Poor fish.   I am certain it would not have survived.

No cell service in this spot.   I wonder what one does.   Take down a license number, type of car?   Call it in when you can get cell service?   How do you prove it?   Sure can't start pointing a cell phone video at them, if you are lady alone....

It is people like this that just make me so sad for the fish that we love so much.   When I land a trout I am at every moment trying to keep the little guy alive while setting him free...that is my main goal.   I hardly take the time to stare at the colors on my favorite, the brookies...but I want too, just stare...they are so pretty....then I stop and say "yikes, get this baby back to the!"  

Next time Ms. Warden comes up to chat I am going to ask her what to do with those kind of people that fish in the manner the men above here fished in...without putting myself in a fix at the same time.

One thing that I know about the game wardens, just say the answers to the questions...don't deliver too much info....I have heard possession can include your mine has no wild fish by the way...I let them all go.   Unless I would be camping and it would be legal to keep, then they are delightful. 

But I have a hard time in this point in my life about bonking a trout on the head and ceasing the life...20 years ago I could....then one day I looked a brookie in the eye and thought again...thought about living under the ice all winter, being tough and smart, and being put in a freezer and set them free from that day on.

I like that I can come back in a few days and fight the same fish...something about that is fun.  I tell him, "come on fishy, let's play the game, I catch you, you fight me, I let you go, and we meet again next week"....unless he gets smarter.

And once he tastes steel, he is gone for the day... gotta love a smart fish.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Good morning...

The skies I wake up to, facing east.   Some days it is worth the early rise to catch this fleeting moment.    As my day will be very busy, short week at work and yet the same amount of work to do, I shall need this view to put a smile on my face and start this Monday....have a great day as well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

my kind neighbor, her great gift

My friend Ginny gave this to me, it is classic Orvis reel, and a rod too, although they don't quite line up as a fit together, I was able to work it out.  This reel is pretty nice.  It will go on the shelf soon, think I locked it up.  Orvis may take it and fix it for a small fee...but it sure made for a nice day of fishing on Glacier Creek.   How she could say "I don't use these anymore, take them...."  and Orvis written all over them...her random act of kindness for the day.

And it was only this last year I found a rod and reel along a river, forgotten in the dusk, and brought it home.   Heard a biker guy was going fishing, fly fishing and had no rod and reel...passed the one I found on to him.   Not sure he will use it, was more of a salt water guy, but you never know.

That was my random act of kindness for the day.

And a reminder to never leave your rod on the ground!

That is my fishing tip to you today!

How I got here, to the water.....

For a decade I rode a Harley Davidson, my own.  I would get up on riding days and travel to Estes Park, Peak to Peak highway, sometimes on long journeys to Durango, and always look at the rivers and the flyfishermen, wishing I could be doing that.  My father gave me his Sage fly rod to use in 1989, and never got it back, he really didn't want to fish that much after all.  So I had dabbled in the state of fly fishing, and I had fished with open face rod/reels way back in younger days.  I even had a day in the Canyon at Decker's, in the late '90's, where I hooked into some luggers (by luck and help from a friend), but really, I had no idea of what I was holding in my hand, this Sage fly rod and a nice little reel, for it's time.

My Dad, me, and the Sage

After a decade of riding motorcycles I sold mine, and then my husband sold his Ultra Classic.  I had to find something to do again.  Staying indoors or in town was not an option.   There in the tube was that Sage rod.  And I took it out one day and started getting it together and took a trip to the streams I had rode by on my motorcycle.    What a change in perspective.   Yes, Harley's are loud on the road next to the Big Thompson, but I kind of enjoy it when a dozen go by.  They always wave, and I back to them.   I wonder if they are wishing they are doing what I am doing, and thinking about changing up their day?

Big Thompson on a Fall Trip

The cost to me in waiting so long to take up the fly rod again has been enormous.  I have had to drop into fly shops all over Colorado, asking for help, advice, hearing tips and stories, it has been so much fun.   And I have made so many friends in these shops.   I have had to do crash courses on mending line, changing flies, finding good fly tiers, reading river reports at 10:00 at night, and basically wishing I was not diving into fly fishing now, but 20 years ago when I was much younger.  

I read that my life expectancy is only so long, and I thought at this age I would be getting ready to really enjoy life, then the unexpected pops up, I get a read flag that I have a little heart issue, it wants to beat too fast sometimes, and for a year the idea that I cannot hike anymore, run along the bank trying to net a trout, just drives my summer.   I had a little surgery this year, during that my heart stopped five times, I came home with a little paddle mark on my chest.  Now for me, that was a game changer!  I need to get going on what I want to do while I can!    So needless to say, I was gone just about every weekend this last year, from about April to early October, on the water.  

For all of us, at someday, we will run out of days to wade the waters.  The image at the end of River Runs Through It is embedded on my brain, an old old man threading a dry fly with old old hands, I want to be him....

I am thankful that my husband will fish with me, that he likes fishing, although he had never fly fished before he met me.  Of course I bought him a nice Ross reel and rod, if he doesn't have good equipment fishing is just not fun, one has to catch a fish to make it worth the time, in his mind anyway.   So Christmas is fun here.  

And he laughs because when I say on a Thursday..."I am thinkin'....."   he knows it is going to be trip to water, somewhere.   And he most often says "I'm in..."    When he is not wanting to fish, I just go alone.  The need to be in water is much stronger for me than for him.  I am all right with that.  Just a bit more careful on how far back I go, how fast water is to cross, are there moose or bear tracks around, a bit more cautious.   For me, just standing in Glacier Creek and hearing the sound, feeling the sun on my face, the scent of pine in the air, the little bugs over the water, that is enough.   To catch a brookie is icing on the cake. 

I have already been dropping hints, yesterday I said "maybe next weekend we go up to Estes, watch the Laramie Parade of Lights, spend the night, dress in layers the next day, go down the canyon, and fish our little spots on the stream, water is low now, and there are fish there, or maybe we can go to the visitor center where they were leaping out of the water into the falls in September, remember?  Sure those were stockers, but by now they are a little bit wild..."   Maybe?  

He said  "I'm in".....

Youngest daughter had this idea....

Holly, my youngest, mentioned to me that I should start a blog.  Reading a blog can be so very much fun, when one has the time.   Some I enjoy.  Streams and rivers in the summer call my name so I am rarely out of the water to read or compose a blog, which equates to I have a life lived fully.  That said, here in Colorado the wind and the chill do not let the voice of the stream reach my ears.  I need a lot to do in the winter.   So I told her I will do that, start a little blog.  She and her sister live far far away, it might be the one way they can here my voice, my real voice.  Cell phones, in my opinion, are a downgrade in quality from my old LAN line, and I get a type of "stage fright" when having a conversation on a cell phone.  And it is hard to have privacy sometimes to have a quiet conversation with them.   So a blog is one way to reach them, with random thoughts and what I am up to.

Reading that sounds a bit boring, that is my fear about a blog.  I don't want to bore the reader.  And ramble on too long.  Neither bode well.  I have not idea what one blogs about, anything I guess!   A time to be creative.  Now that I do like.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Will I make it to December......

Lily Lake is iced over.  The park is asleep.  Small bugs are still busy under the snow and the ice, and the greenback cutthroats are feeding where they can. I count the days until spring like others count to Christmas....if I can make it to my birthday with a smile, there will be only six more weeks of winter...says the groundhog on most days. When I cannot get warm enough I think of the elk, the calves, and I feel sad for them, it is so very cold living in the forest. I will go visit Lily next weekend and fill a photo frame of her, decked with white I am sure. How many days until Christmas? I would not know...but ask me about Spring....