Sunday, September 30, 2012

Early Morning Mayhem

The nights have been getting colder and most days have come with at least a brief episode of rain. The slow, autumn rain that makes you want to duck back inside and put on a sweatshirt. Maybe have a little mid-day whisky and talk about splitting some more wood and cleaning the chimney...as you peer out the window at all the bright yellow aspen leaves glistening cold and wet.

And it made me wonder if the weather was getting the water in my local pike lake down to a more comfortable temperature. Cool water that brings these primordial hunters in close to cattail-laden shores. Fall fishing for northern pike is never as crazy or lights-out as it can be in the spring, but is worth the effort if the drive ain't too far. Which, for Erin and I it is under an hour from the mouth of our canyon and it usually is not too much effort to get up early enough to be on pike water before first light for some early morning mayhem and then back to the cabin before noon...to, you know, get on that chimney and wood splitting. And the Broncos game on the radio!

Sunday Morning Movie

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Calling it Early...

 The reports from friends where good. Tons of carp with their backs out of the water all morning...two days ago. And the weather reports were good, too. Sunny, no wind in the morning with a high of 90 degrees. All was lining up for a great day off. The Broncos game started at 2:30 and I could lay waist to the September carp flats all morning and them enjoy a few Millers in the early afternoon watching Peyton lay waist to the Texan defense...

The first sign the day was not going to pan out as I had planned was oversleeping. Erin and I didn't get our boots muddy until almost 9:00 and the sky was hazy and we could not see into the water very well. Remnants of the smoldering wildfires way up north most likely. But we made due. The carp were active even if they were hard to see. And the water was way down, exposing endless flats easy to walk and land fish. Glaring into the grey, poorly lit water strained the eyes, but we found and hooked fish regularly. Things were turning around. But I decided to call it early. Decided to leave an active mud flat to go back to the cabin and watch "makeshift mountain TV" and have a cold beer.

As it turned out...we could not live stream the game on Erin's computer. I had to resort to a radio station. And then, for the second week in a row the Broncos fell apart right out of the gate. I had to shut it off and go outside and split wood just to avoid breaking something. Wish I could blame it on poor officiating...but I can't. So let my day be a learning lesson. NEVER leave feeding fish. Not ever.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Doing it Right

"There are many ways to screw up carp fishing but only one way to do it right"


Sounds accurate...and that is why I walked into Rocky Mountain Anglers and asked for a guide. It is no lie that carp fishing is ridiculously difficult. One has to be extremely stealthy and shrewed fisherman if Carp is your game. Not only one has to know how the fish behave, what he eats, what he don´t eat, how to strip (trust me on that last one, the carp stripping technique is way different than salmon stripping) and last-but not least-how to hook these bad boys. One can see a lot of carp without catching a single one, not even be close to it. But man its worth spending hours chasing these gunners when it all works out!

Contributed by: Orri Gunnarsson

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Off the Injured Reserve

In the world of baseball it is called the IR...injured reserve. A much nicer way of categorizing your fellows than in the Army. Broke dick. Fucking profile. But then again, even the Major Leagues ain't the wolf pack an Army airborne unit is. Come up gimpy you get eaten. It is why I went two years without telling anyone my leg was broken.  But I live in a much different world now, so when I chopped up my casting hand in blender a week or so ago I felt comfortable telling the world about my idiocy as well as my disability. I was out of the game for a bit. Soon to return, if all went and healed accordingly.

Today was my first day back. And it felt oddly bittersweet. Like the onset of hunting season when I was a kid...which also meant having to go back to school. I have been tending to my nearly severed right thumb and it has only been the last few days that I have been brave enough to attempt some casting out behind the fly shop. The first time I screamed like a rabbit in a Victor leg-hold...and then bled through my bandages. But was happy as hell. I still had the strength and ability to throw a straight 60-footer. Good enough for any type of fishing, by god!

I hurt a bit today. But not too bad. Landed ten carp. Nothing of any size...but reassuring none-the-less. But it was bittersweet, like I said. Because now I have to start splitting wood and doing my share of the dishes again...

Sunday Morning Movie

Monday, September 10, 2012

The View from the Back Seat

Many years ago I attempted to teach myself to cast a fly rod with my left hand. I think I was in the Army at the time and must have had a brush with my own mortality. It wasn't too severe, but it made me wonder how I could function if disabled. I guess I had enough respect for the irony of Murphy's Law to know that if I were ever to lose the use of one of my hands...it would be my right. My casting hand.  So, when I held on tightly to the eight razor-sharp blades of a gifted food processor and, for reasons unknown to me now or at the time, promptly turned it on...I was at least semi-prepared for the inevitable consequences.

I came out of the mishap without too much permanent damage despite the entire kitchen and parts of the living room being temporarily transformed into the Reservoir Dogs movie set...me, of course, doing my best impression of Mr. Orange writhing around spurting the red sticky all over the warehouse loading ramp. Being of a certain ilk (tougher than I am smart and more stubborn than gifted) I elected to stay away from the ER and Camp Medicate instead. With Erin's help, we dosed my "stump" (as we are now calling it) with hydrogen peroxide and wrapped all my mangled digits up tightly with gauze and duct tape and hoped for the best. My self-prognosis, aided by large amounts of alcohol, was good. Within a day or two I fully intended to be back on a creek somewhere with fly rod in hand. My left hand, but none-the-less fishing.

As it turns out...thumbs don't completely reattach overnight. And no matter if you can out-cast the Dalai Lama with your good arm, (big hitter, the Lama) you immediately regain your newb-certificate once the rod is put in your other hand. And you can't drive stick. And you need to ask your girlfriend to tie your flies on. And...can you come take my fish off for me? Erin did drive me to one of our favorite small trout streams, but I took along no rod of my own. I exchanged fly boxes for wild mushroom identification books on loan from the library, wore work boots instead of wading boots and donned the comfortable flannel I like for around the cabin, instead of a quick-dry fishing shirt. And I settled for poking around stream-side, watching Erin fish and attempting to ID some toadstools. Occasionally she would beckon me over to a particularly promising pool and hand her bamboo four-weight over to me. Have a go! And I did manage to catch one small cutthroat and an equally small brookie. Erin did have to tie the fly on for me, as well as all the rest. A fine guide. Hey, Lama...how about a little something, you know, for the effort? But I guess eventually we all have to see what the view is like from the back seat. And, if you have good people around you it ain't so bad...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tip of the Week

Try not to be the one holding onto the blades of a Ninja Master Prep QB1004 Food Processor when it is suddenly turned on...because, among other negatives, it will seriously limit your ability to tie flies.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Lake With No Name

On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life. There were plants and birds. and rocks and things. There was sand and hills and rings. The first thing I met, was a fly with a buzz. And the sky, with no clouds. The heat was hot, and the ground was dry, but the air was full of sound...
The entire walk in (the first part of my journey) I had this America song stuck in my head. It was early in the morning and the only other soul on the mountain was a bow hunter making his way back down. The three of us, heads down, kept up the pace. The first miles where to be on trail, but from there our travels took us on our own. Off trail. Bushwhacking up to a high-elevation lake that I had never fished before...and never heard of. I had not heard of any reports from the lake because it had no name. It was on most maps, but just that. There. A dab of blue ink surrounded by lots of thin black contours.

You see I've been through the desert on a horse with no name...
As alluring as it sounds, I don't necessarily trust a lake with no name. Not a high lake that takes the good part of a day to get to and may or may not hold trout. Or even really be there. It could have just been a cartographers typo or fabulous practical joke. I don't mind little ditches in town or warm-water ponds behind barns that are too small and private to warrant a name. They will have a carp or a few bluegill, at least. If not, oh well. Drive on down the road to something familiar. But high lakes. With no names. Like guys with no names. Don't trust them. He goes by Butch. What's his real name? Dunno...just calls himself Butch. Good with an ax, though...
Joe had promised there at least used to be trout up there. Good trout. Big cutthroat. Back in the day. What does that mean, exactly? How long ago? Five years, maybe? Oh...that's not so bad. Now how far off trail is this again? There did turn out to be fish, the same big cuts Joe had seen before. And there was no trail in, and no sign of other fishermen--or climbers, or hikers. Just the one bow hunter. So it ended up being perfect and totally worth it...which, really, doesn't take that much. But the trout did not show themselves at first. It was many hours after we arrived before the first rise was spotted. Later, as we were picking our way down the scree fields on our way back to civilization, Joe admitted to Erin and I that for awhile he was afraid something bad had happened and there truly were no more trout. Winter kill, or something. But Joe (and Erin, too, for that matter) persisted and never gave up hope that it was weather or time of day keeping the trout down deep and that given just the right turn of events a big, red-bellied cutthroat would point its nose at the surface and attack your fly. Which is exactly what did happen and it was fitting that it was Joe's fly being targeted. Because he had been the one keeping on. Not me...I tapped out early in the second round. Poor conditioning? After a few hours of casting into this lake with no name and not trusting it and not seeing hide nor hair of a trout (or should I say skin nor scale?) I got distracted by the the boletus mushrooms and the bouldering possibilities for those of my friends looking for new problems. Like the little boy I once was being distracted by the butterflies and pretty rocks when Dad wanted me paying attention to the end of my catfish pole.

So, I did feel a bit silly and juvinlie when, out of the deep blue, big cutthroat began to rise...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tip of the Week

When in doubt, and if life gotcha down...climb the nearest mountain, pretend your life is set to an 80's action movie soundtrack and strike a pose, bitches!