Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tribes - High Lake Cutthroat Fisherman

I just read my first copy of The Drake magazine - Spring/Summer '09. It contained a feature titled "Tribes" which outlined a handful of different sects within the fly fishing community. Among the featured tribes were Flats Guides, Tailwater Chasers, Striper Fisherman, Steelheaders, Fly Tyers, and Bass Fisherman. I really enjoyed the concept and would like to give it a try.

I give you the High Lake Cutthroat Tribe.


To hunt high lake cutthroats in the Rocky Mountains is a maddening endeavor.

The game is sick and twisted. If there truly are fish gods, then the High Lake Deity is the outcast who resides in a high up cave of self imprisonment enveloped by wispy clouds. The outer rock is beaten glossy smooth by the ages of relentless hail and streaked black with lightning soot. The other gods share worried whispers in varying flavors of disapproval of his cruel ways, but he pays them no heed. His tittering laugh sweeps down the mountain and sends reminding chills up their spines.

His will keeps the high lakes locked in ice for, give or take, 9 months of the year. The higher the altitude, the smaller the window of accessibility. When the ice finally melts, it's the cutthroats' cue to start spawning for a month.

Does the spawning make the fishing easier or harder, ye' high lake wanderer?

Ask this question of a veteran high lake angler and you can expect a response of a shot of bourbon dovetailed with a glare through eyes of chipped scree. There's miles in those eyes, miles.

The miles weed out a large share of curious anglers right off the bat. The interesting thing is that the true high lake angler actually takes pleasure out of the hike. The hike is the foreplay before the sex. Every step of distance, every foot of altitude might as well be a direct measurement of the lack of pressure on the fish that live beyond.

No information about the lake online? "Great."

Distant trail head and then no marked trail? "Excellent."

The last guy who tried it never returned... *ruffling of a topo map*

It's about experiencing seclusion in a vast expanse. It's about seeking multiple accomplishments. It's about venturing into the unknown compulsively and not necessarily being concerned about coming back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

September Blues

Man, I'd never have thunk it that September would be a slow month for fishing for me. Aside from a successful high lake mission, it's been rough. Not to mention, my brother has been quite adventurous recently and has been using the camera for his own activities during days that I've been fishing. After all, it is his camera.

Here is the day saving cutty from an 8 mile bushwhack. Well, technically, screewhack:

Then I got slapped with a skunk during a tour of South Park. That one really stung. I went back last weekend thinking I knew where the fish were and, while beating the skunk, had a relatively slow day. The morning included breaking off the first fish o' the day due to ice in the guides; just an unbelievably amateur move. I then brought a cookie cutter bow to hand, and then proceeded to break off another fish due to somehow getting my line wrapped over the rod when I set the hook. That was all the action on the day. I was utterly disgusted with myself.

However, in my own defense, I was exploring a place and idea that just didn't pan out. I now know to not return to a certain place during this time of year, so I was able to take something good from it.

As a substitute for fish pics, here are some woolly buggers I recently tied up for some river brown action later this month. I had this CDC hackle sitting around and decided to put it to use. I think it looks pretty cool and should have nice action underwater.

Hooks are size 4 and 3x long. The front half of the buggers are lead wrapped and the heads are tungsten. They'll be deep divers for sure.