Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Knot

The last thread reminded me to link the proper way to tie a knot to the fly. As Jason will attest, the difference between the clinch knot and the improved clinch knot is a broken off fish or a landed fish. What makes it the "improved" clinch knot is step 8 in the animation.

I used to get frustrated with tying knots and skip the improved step. When you're standing in the water watching feeding fish it's easy to get excited and to brush over taking your time tying in the proper knots. The normal clinch knot will work as long as you don't hook into a big fish (relative to your line thickness)...

In other local fishing news, ice chunks are starting to show up in the rivers, and lakes are getting their lids. It looks like my first season of ice fishing is coming up. There may be a lull in fishing activity for me as the ice firms up and I hit the back country snowshoeing and snowboarding.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Big Trout, Short Story

I went out to my favorite local tail water this past weekend. It was my first trip out since the neck injury. My buddy Jason and I headed out there and the weather was glorious. About 50 degrees and sunny all day, with not another soul on the water.

I had tied up about 9 czech nymphs and planned to show Jason the way to slay it out there with them. As fortune would have it, czech nymphing just wasn't the ticket that day. We both had a hit or two without hookups.

We come up to a slow stretch of the river and Jason spots a rainbow about 60 feet below us in the canyon that is actively feeding in a lane. It's hard to read the size, but it looks every bit of 20 inches.

Let me preface this by saying that this river is known for its wiley trout. Any fish of size has been around the block and doesn't stand for the slightest hint of foul play. The approach, the cast and the drift all have to be purrrrrfect. Jason just picked up fly fishing this year and has really excelled, but catching one of these trout would be a challenge even for an experienced angler.

Jason climbs down the boulders of the canyon wall to the water and ties on an egg/nymph rig while I stay up on the rocks to spot for him. I told him how far away the trout was and damn if he didn't lay an undetected cast above it with a top notch drift right for its face.

The 'bow took a nonchalant glance at the egg before lazily wavering away.

"He's lookin... he's lookin," I stammer. "Nope he didn't go."

I see Jason's shoulders sink in a gesture of dissapointment as he gets ready to pick up the line for another cast.

"Wait, wait! Hes turned back at it... and hes following!" I yell out in amazement.

All I know from that point is Jason sets the hook and a flopping splash errupts the placid surface.

"Holy shit! YOU'VE GOT HIM! Holy shit!" I cry as I fumble for my net and begin to scramble down the canyon wall. Jason is tripping backwards, stripping line, letting it out, laughing, cursing -- doing the big fish shuffle.

I get down to the water, net in hand, and raise my eyes ready to do this only to see the tension in his rod abruptly release and the line skip across the water... fish off.

We crack a smile and give a high five just for the excitement of the ordeal. It's not every day you get to hook into a fish like that in a place such as this.

"The adrenaline is wearing off and it's being replaced with saddness." Jason laments.

I chuckle because I sure know that shitty feeling.

It turned out to be a bad knot on the fly and he knew it before we even took a look at the end of the line. It would have been his personal best trout.

I once read a story in which a young boy hooks into the biggest trout of his life and it breaks him off. The boy is sitting on the shore with his head between his knees crying when an old man walks up with a long gray beard scattered with odd looking, rusty flies. The old-timer tells the boy that maybe it was necessary for him to break that fish off in order for him to have the tools to catch a big one later on down the road. He plucks a few flies out of his crusty beard, hands them to the boy, and fades into the woods...

...and so is fly fishing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tie Me A River

I have a strange obsession with the woolly bugger and its a magical powers over trout. This is a variation on my previously posted purple bead head pattern. This one features the standard palmered hackle, a chartreuse wire wrap, some flash in the tail, and rubber legs.

With all this talk on my blog about czech nymphs, I figured I'd finally throw up a photo of one. There is nothing very exciting about these flies. It's wrapped with lead underneath, dubbed, covered with scud skin over the back, and then wraped with some 5x mono for segmentation.

My brother has gotten really into photography and I asked him to take some photos of me tying over some cold beers and music - to inspire creativity of course.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kokanee Salmon and Spawning Browns

I haven't put up a post in a while and the guilt has been weighing on me heavily. In the back of my mind all I can think of is that loyal reader checking my page only to find the same photo of me with my arm around Worm. I thought up a few solid excuses, but in truth, I have just been lazy. Sorry.

One of my fishing buddies, Vaughn, and I became obsessed with catching a mess of salmon to take home for many dinners to come.

The idea, of course, was to find a hot spot of podded salmon that will hit on every cast. A fantasy of raining salmon: every angler dancing up and down the banks on tippy toes playing hard-fighting fish, big grins, belly laughs, high fives, back slapping and such.

In reality, this involved us waking up around three o'clock in the morning, driving for hours, and then just being teased with something like one undersized salmon every hour or so.


Most days we even had our secondary plans all ready to go such as, "Well, I figure we can head over to the ******* river for trout after we limit out on salmon sometime around noon."

Nope. That whole "sometime around noon" graceful exit kept turning into me squatted on a desolate shoreline with bloodshot eyes and a five o'clock shadow around six o'clock with Vaughn murmuring something about his wife expecting him home tonight.

Keep in mind that there are easier ways to catch Salmon in the state of Colorado. It's called snagging.

I have this preference to not line up elbow to elbow with the likes of Mr. Deuce McAllister, fish kicking mullet man, guy sitting on cooler and family. This video is not shot in Colorado, but the scene is always the same when it comes to snagging.

No thanks. I'd rather have a slow day in pursuit of catching them in the mouth.

Moving on.

I decided to cut my losses on the salmon hunt and do what an angler is supposed to do during Colorado autumn - chase spawning browns and the rogue rainbows that are gorging on the brown roe.

I met up with the man, the legend known as Swizz and headed to a prime destination.

Sunrise while driving.

The action was slow which was disappointing considering the 3.5 hour drive each direction, but I learned a ton from Swizz and some of his friends that we ran into out there. Even though I got the skunk, I was able to take some photos of trout that those guys caught.

A prime example of a spawning brown all colored up.

A superior specimen of said rogue 'bow that is hanging out around the spawners gulping up the eggs.

I also spotted a sun dog at the end of the day and captured some photos of it. This is the second sun dog I've seen in Colorado. I find them extraordinary and enchanting and it put a smile on my face for the drive home.

On a side note, I was rudely awakened at four o'clock Tuesday morning with immobilizing pain in my neck. Long story short, my brother drove me to the ER with my chin glued to my chest and they said I just had to wait it out. Some strong meds and four blurry days later my neck feels much better. However, for this weekend, as they say in the NFL, I will be on the PUP list, so no fishing for me.