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Tying Them Flies

Winter brings opportunity for fly tying. You can of course tie any time you want. If it is nice enough to be out fishing though, flies can wait. Right now we are sitting in almost single digits in Utah, which means its bloody cold. Funny story. A friend and I went fishing in below freezing weather. We thought, yeah no big, fish have to eat no matter what. Which is very true. But after fighting cold freezing winds, de-icing the eyelets after every cast we were getting discouraged with the lack of fish. The I watch my buddy remove a glove and drop his hand into the ice cold river. I’ll be damned if he didn’t come up holding a fish. Plucked it out of the stream. Well…we figured if the fish are that cold, maybe it was time for us to wuss out and call it a day.

So it’s on these freezing cold days that I like to tie. it occupies some time and I still feel like I am fishing to a point. Gearing up is part of the process after all. One fly I never tie, because I never us it, is the GloBug. Why don’t I use them? I’m primarily a dry fly kinda guy. However, this last fall I was having trouble catching fish during the spawn. I’m guessing that the feeding fish were targeting in on the eggs floating down stream. That’s all it took. I picked me up some yarn, and I’ve been searching the net for the simplest way to tie. Here is the video that makes it short, sweet, and to the point. So this week I am going to give it a shot. I will film it and see how they turn out. If it isn’t to ego shattering I will post my failures and successes. Here is the video. Check it out. And please, let me hear from you on what you think.

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Last Trip Of 2017

A fishing trip in the winter…what’s not to like? It was an especially good way to wrap up the end of 2017. I can always find something new and exciting about each trip out on the water. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s a fish. Occasionally it’s the swarms of hatching insects creating 50 fish days. This last trip out was no different. My brave little sister sent her man, Cody, on his first solo trip with me. She should know better. A semi new to fly fisher, but let’s not hold that against him. Point is, we were out in the elements, chasing away our winter blues.20171231_122600

Mid-winter and we found our way to Clear Creek canyon. The aptly named river has been a regular winter playground for me as it runs low through the valley, out of the snow drifts and freezing temperatures of higher elevation streams. 11:30 am, standing on a slab of anchor ice, weapons in hand, we set to work. Usually in the winter I stick primarily to midge patterns. The day was unusually warm for the end of December so I rolled the dice and upped the fly to a size 16 Elk Hair Caddis with a size 20 bead head Zebra Midge for a dropper. It didn’t take long for us to see some action. Better still, the fish wanted that Caddis.

The low flowing clear water meant we could be seen a hundred yards off by a fish with enough sense to check his rear view mirrors, so the approach was low and stealthy. One particular stretch got us both into fish. We attacked from both sides, each landing a couple. Although they were small, it didn’t take any of the fun out of it. 20171231_134559We fished the couple hours of sunshine we had before the mountain peaks threw shadows across the pools, dropping the temperatures, and lowering our resolve. We both had several catches to add to the notching post, as well as some good memories. Dry flies in winter, gotta love it!

The Itch…

The semi warm days, and the sun over head makes it difficult to sit inside and ignore the call of the waters.  My experience tells me that midges will be hovering above the pocket water. Caddis nymphs will be crawling to the tops of the sun warmed rocks.  The Brown Trout, although wary, will be sunning themselves and lazily snatching prey as it drifts by.

Times like these I find myself looking to the joys of others in attempt to waylay my own fishless days. A favorite way to cure the itch is visiting The New Fly Fisher. Check out the video below and you will understand why.

World peace

Christmas, a true love hate relationship. I am known to be a Scrooge, or a Grinch. Probably because I’m cheap, and I hate Christmas. Humbug! This year I have decided to try to find something, anything to be excited for over the holidays. I thought long and hard. The relentless music, the well wishers, the bell ringers, the “friends” that show up out of nowhere to bring baked goodies made in a sometimes “questionable” kitchen. And to quote a genius, “All the noise, noise, noise!”

But then it struck me, as ideas sometimes do. Santa brings fishing tackle. Free tackle. The kind I won’t get yelled at for buying. Guilt free fishing supplies. This year I must have been good. A new set of breathable waders and some much needed nippers for my fly vest. So, I did it. I found the one thing to like about Christmas. Like so many things, it is all perspective. If I focus on all the parts of Christmas that I find miserable then it will indeed be, miserable. If I find one thing to enjoy, it makes it a little easier to endure the last minute shopping, the family I see twice a year because that is the limit of my tolerance, and the terribly overplayed versions of Christmas classics.

To sum up, Christmas is good if you get fishing tackle. Therefore, if everyone got fishing tackle, everyone would be happy. If everyone is happy, there will be peace. Holy Crap! I just found the answer to achieving world peace. Fishing tackle for all!!!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Something Personal

(For those of you used to a post about the outdoors, forgive me this post. I needed to share.)

I didn’t recognize the number.  I was writing, too busy for trivial interruptions. I immediately denied the call with a lazy auto text, “I’ll call you back later.

My text was answered with, “No, call back now! This an emergency!”

“Your daughter has been in an accident…” The words sent a shockwave coursing through me, gouging every nerve. Fear and love, the two most powerful motivators. I had just been hit with a resounding dose of both.

Time slowed to a crawl as I cranked the ignition of my old Chevy Blazer, hoping that it would sense my urgency and fire over. Deep ruts in the gravel drive, a testament to what was at stake. Buildings, streets, and cars, streaked past, a liquid blur. Life around me, unaware of my desperate state. I don’t recall the 7-mile drive to the scene of the accident. The flashing lights stretched out for half a mile. A mass of guiding lights, each showing me the way. When I saw what was left of her car, I silently called to her, “I’m almost there!20171207_102409

A chilling swath of debris followed the car from where it struck the hillside and proceeded to flip twice, ripping rocks and brush from their earthen beds, before coming to rest upside down. An unrecognizable piece of twisted metal still smoldered as the firefighters worked to douse the flames. I ran past the flashes of blue and red, past the stench of fire and the crunch of shattered glass beneath my shoes.  I ran until I finally saw her.

Her tiny form lay on a stretcher, a brace supporting her fragile neck, fresh blood on her hands and forehead. I swam upstream, against a current of faceless emergency responders trying to reassure me that my daughter was okay. But they didn’t understand. I had to know. I fought my way to her side, her tear stained cheeks and tiny scarlet covered hands triggered an indescribable pain in my chest. I struggled with the overwhelming feeling of relief, and the need to vomit. I kneeled at her side gently holding her hand in mine, while the EMT’s readied her for transport. The fear behind her eyes began to melt away as my wife made it to her side a moment later. In her face, I could still see my little girl. I could see all the times I’ve been at her side when she needed me the most. And I silently berated myself, for the times when I was not. In that brief moment huddled close in the back of that ambulance, I realized what it truly means to be a father. It is pain, and suffering, in times of trial. It is laughter, and, it is love.

Seven days have past and my little girl is back on her feet, taking on the world. She walked away from the wreck with a few good bruises and some minor scratches. Yes, she might end up with some scars, but eventually, they too will heal.  It would all seem a terrible nightmare, if not for the twisted and burned wreckage that remains in my driveway. A reminder of what I could have lost. More important, a reminder of what I still have.

I still have my daughter, and I, am still her Dad.

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Memorable Moments

Throwback Monday? The next new black? Okay, probably not. However, I thought I would give it a shot anyway. On my way to my other, other job, there was a light snow falling. It’s been well established that I am not a big fan of winter. So instead of writing a post complaining about the weather, I thought maybe I would look back on previous outings that were memorable, both in the company I was with and the fishing.

I love to fly fish, but I also throw lures and baits when the time calls for it. On a spring day last year, I was out chucking worms to hungry trout when I landed this bad boy. I was surprised to set the hook and hear the drag scream when the average size fish in the lake is thirteen inches. I didn’t get a measure or a weight of the Rainbow, but who needs all that when you have pics to prove it?20160522_144840

Also in the spring, just after the snow melts enough to get access into the high mountain lakes, a good friend of mine loaded us up on an ATV and we hit some backwater. We were hoping for a few holdovers from the previous year, but I was yet again surprised when I landed this nice Tiger trout on a black Wooley Bugger. Such a pretty fish!20160609_121820

Last, and definitely not the least, same trip, different lake, we caught some Brook trout and stopped to fillet them out. As my buddy was finishing up with one fish, we were visited by a hungry Weasel who stood begging for the remains from our catch. He darted in and out of the rocks watching us and stealing bits of food when he thought it was safe.20160610_222847

With Utah having such a mild fall, and so far, a nonexistent winter, I have no idea how the spring fishing will be. I can only hope that it will be as good to me as it has been in the past.

Tradition

For the past ten years my family and I have held a tradition where we go to a local lake the day after thanksgiving to fish. The lake is a lowland lake and partially spring fed, meaning it rarely freezes over. When we first began going there, the fish were abundant and it was generally just me and two of my brothers. Over the years, things have changed, just like things do. The fishing has gone from a decent fishing lake, to nothing but a shadow of its former glory. We have added new members to our yearly trip including my dad, my little sister, my nieces and nephews, and occasionally a good friend.

I arrived at the lake at 8:30. The skies were gray with passing clouds. When the sun did touch the water it would throw up ghostly wisps of steam. It was cold, but not as cold as years past. First order of business was, you guessed it, getting a line in the water. By time my line was cast, my family started showing up. We rushed to get a fire going while the younger ones huddled close, teeth chattering with red noses. The crackling of the dry pine and smell of burning sap made me long for summer. The Utah winters can be cold and harsh. This year we were lucky. A hooded sweatshirt, long pants and a hot fire were just enough to stave off the morning chill.

I set to work getting breakfast while the others rigged up tackle. There were some complaints as I set the Dutch Oven atop the coals, but they were quelled with a steaming mug of hot chocolate my brother had brought. The air soon filled with the smell of crisping bacon, diced onions and peppers. Mouths watered at the promising aroma of a hot breakfast. Chopped potatoes, finished off with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese, we soon cooked up gut weighing, rib sticking, breakfast skillet. If you’ve never had a skillet breakfast over an open fire, be ashamed. Be very ashamed. It’s amazing.

And the fishing…well, it was fishing. Not a bite to be had among the eight lines in the water. It didn’t matter. All thoughts were now on the hot food piled high on plates. Many stories of past trips were shared as we ate. We talked about the holiday, and the ones to come. We talked about family. We told jokes, and we laughed. More important, I watched as my nieces and nephews with their dads, my brothers, passing onto their children the experiences we have been enjoying for so long. I watched them eat greedily claiming that this was the best breakfast they’d ever eaten. I smiled watching three generations of my family come together and enjoy each other’s company on that cold winter morning.  Fishing may have been the reason we started this crazy tradition, but family is the reason we’ve kept it.