Monthly Archives: April 2011

Non-Serviceable Parts

The wind is so bad that it blew the tent flat.

This week has been really rough. Busy here at the shop restoring some vintage equipment, and then computer problems. The worst part is that this rough week has been amplified by a brutal skunking the previous weekend. What’s with the late posting you ask? Well this leads me to my first topic. Non-serviceable or proprietary parts have been the bane of my existence since I first read “made in China” on a box. I am really sick and tired of the mentality that if it breaks, you HAVE to buy a new one. The same goes with fishing gear. So, in order to curb all of this nonsense, from this day forward things will be created by me. Rods, reels, flies, packs, gloves, and any other thing that I can think up. This process was brought along by the computer that I am currently using…

Stage 1: Destroy, Stage 2: Recreate, Stage 3: Wrap with packing tape to make it look "NEW" again

In the spirit of doing it yourself, here is a fly that I would like to share. This little guy works great in clean, deep, or shaded water. More designed for ultra deep and steep canyons full of pocket water.

Step 1:  Start with a size 12-16 Tiemco 2457 or a similar favorite hook with some curve to it. I like using a black tungsten bead for clear dark water, if you are fishing tea colored or brown dirty water, a gold bead will work better. Throw on the bead and 5-6 wraps of .020 lead. Push it up under the bead.

Step 2: Build a Ramp of thread behind the lead wire and cover the wire.

Ramp to the point of the hook.

Step 3: Tie in 1/8″ olive scud back at the ramp you made and tie back. The trick here to get a smooth body contour is to allow the scud back to wrap around the hook. It will naturally wrap around in the opposite direction when you attempt to tie it in, wrap it a few times and pull tighter as you tie the thread back you want the scud back to come off of the fly at an angle. This trick is the key to tying this bug without a giant bulb on the rear end of the fly. Wrap the scud back to the thorax of the fly.  At this point you can leave the tag end to use as a wing case if you are trying to create a more “leggy” type of nymph.

Use thread underneath to segment the body.

Wrap scud back forward

Step 4: Tie in 2 pieces of flashabou and dub the body. I use peacock ice dub for this one, but you can use peacock hurl if you like a tighter fly. I like to tie them in a “V” shape. Brush the dubbing down and tie the flashabou forward.

Brush dubbing down

This is where everything gets magnified

Step 5: Whip finish and top this off with epoxy or bug bond.


This bug is extremely versatile and mimics a slew of insects hiding beneath the rocks. Because of the black bead and scud back, it casts a hard silhouette in darker water. Fish it deep in cascades and under waterfalls and get ready for a surprise. The tungsten bead is very optional. I’m not a big fan of tungsten in my part of the world due to the amount of boulders you might cast against. Tungsten beads crack easily.

To fish stained water change it up to a tan scud back, brown dubbing, and a gold bead. You can also tie legs into this, but I find that it is best to just let the dubbing act as legs. If the bugs in your area (colorado, and every other state in the union) are fatter than NM bugs, you can taper the body and make it fatter by dubbing under the scud back.

Good luck out there!


Survival 101: Water

I’ve been trying to find a way to squeeze in some survival tactics into the blog, and haven’t had a chance. After chasing around stockers and small browns, I figure this week was a good time.

I never thought the subject of water was controversial. Until now. Allow me to begin this with a…

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, nor do I claim to be one. Medical science is a silly matter. Because of this, I must portray both sides and take no responsibility for actions the reader may take after reading this article. If you have a question of concern, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR!

This is a general overview. I will probably have another post in the future on how to properly clean water and different ways to do so. That will more than likely contain a better list of water contaminants and ways to destroy them.

Easy stuff first. Water quality. There are a ton of hurtful things in groundwater, mostly coliforms and giardia lamblia, with some parasites and fungus tossed in there. For a full list of things (which I do not really consider complete but sufficient) look here. One very common problem in a wilderness setting is Giardiasis. It affects approximately 2,000,000 people per year in the United States (estimated). For the sake of this post and the reader, I’m going to attempt to keep the “nerdery” to a minimum.

The cause of Beaver Fever

Giardia lamblia is a tank. It is transfered through animal waste, including humans (I hope you aren’t drinking coffee right about now and if you are, I’m sorry). Beavers, in the case of the wilderness, are the main source of transfer so take extreme caution against it where you know there are beavers. Also, take that same precaution in places where you aren’t sure. It only takes around 5 of these little parasites to keep you running off into the woods to spread more of them. Giardiasis (infection of Giardia lamblia) is dangerous in a few ways, in most cases it isn’t deadly unless (as with all intestinal issues) you are immunocompromised. It has the ability to resist chlorine. Most purification tablets use chlorine to kill bacteria and it is a good idea to always check your labels. They usually mention what they do not do, and more often mention that they are for emergency use only. There are 2 ways to destroy the parasite, boiling or filtering. Quite frankly, boiling unfiltered water doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Remember, if you are at higher elevations, water needs to boil longer or under pressure to effectively kill what it needs to kill.

Cute and cuddly or armed and dangerous?

The real danger of Giardiasis does not come from the parasite, rather your body’s reaction to it. (put down your coffee) It causes you to have diarrhea, which makes you dehydrated and leads us to our controversial subject, hydration (resume coffee). There is a rule of 8×8. drinking 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water per day, totaling 64 ounces. There is also a simple equation to follow which is half of your body weight in ounces, for example, I weigh 165 pounds, 165x.5=82.5 ounces per day. Some say 3 liters (101.4 ounces) for men, 2.2 liters (74.4 ounces) for women. As far as I have read, none of these account for the amount of water you get from food, which is about 20%. Some people drink more water than others and each person is different, therefore kidney function is also different. My advice to you to find out how much water you should drink is to actually log the amount of water you drink on a normal day and add 30% for a camping trip. The problem here comes down to dehydration and over-hydration. Articles on the subject make it seem like you will die instantly if you drink too much, or you will die instantly if you do not drink enough. These can’t be further from the truth. Hypovolemia is low blood pressure due to low blood volume and sits on the extreme side of dehydration, it takes approximately 2 days with no water to set in (shorter time if you have an open wound). Hyponatremia is the loss of sodium and other electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, etc…) from the cells. Without that protection on the cell, your cells (especially brain cells) swell causing high blood pressure and when this is tied into brain cells, you can have a stroke or other brain issues. In order for this to happen, you must have too much water for your kidneys to process, around a gallon per hour for a couple hours. This is also known as water intoxication. Giadriasis can cause either of these. If you have (coffee down) vomiting tied in with diarrhea (continue coffee), you become dehydrated and electrolytes are low. If you overcompensate with too much water, it is possible to give yourself hyponatremia.

In this case, relativity does fit.

If you are out in the back country, it is a good idea to calculate the amount of water you will need for the trip. I’ll use myself as an example here 165(weight)x.5=82.5 oz Then 20% from food 82.5x.8=66 When you plan to hike into high elevations you will notice that you urinate more often. Yes, it is triggered by high elevation. There is nothing wrong with you. You also breathe at a faster rate, thus losing a bit more water through the lungs and just standing in the New Mexico sun can wear you down. Plus you are working your body harder than normal. So, add around 30% to compensate. 66x.3=19.8 19.8+66=85.8 ounces; That should be your total water input per day of hiking. How much water would you need for a trip? I would need to pack 2 gallons of water for a 3 day trip. 3(days)x85.8(oz per day)/128(oz in a gallon)=2.01 Drink when you are thirsty and don’t overdo it. Instead of slamming down water, drink it slowly through the course of a day. Nuts, dried bananas, and other assorted dried fruits are great to have to keep your electrolytes up, they play a key role in hydration. Keep an eye out on your urine, if it is slightly yellow or clear, you are good. If it is darker or very odorous, drink a bit more water. Always keep a sports drink or Pedialyte in the case of Giardiasis. If you do catch a case of the beaver fever, go home. Aren’t you glad I didn’t explain electrolyte transfer?

If you have any kidney issues, heart problems that have you on a low sodium diet, AIDS, or any other medical issue involving a prescription medication, talk to a doctor before long trips into the wild.

  Lesson #6: The better your food and water, the better your trip. Everyone is different, maybe leave the liver and onions at home this time.

You Forgot the Machete (Wild and Scenic Pt:2)

Day 2: My internal alarm went off at 6am. My car hates me. Some of the most uncomfortable nights sleeping are ones spent in my car. As my eyes peeled open I could see the temperature gauge in my car that read 29°F. Frigid cold after a week of temperatures in the mid 70’s.  I looked out of my window to the Rio Grande as I ate my pop tarts and saw a peculiar rise from the corner of my eye. A carp rising halfway out of the water, a formidable foe for the 8wt rod seated snuggly in the passenger seat. The “just in case I find some pike” rod. This just didn’t seem the time to go for a good carp. Maybe it was the cold or the time it would take to rig the rod for carp. I still had to put on the winter clothes. With it decided to skip over these guys for the time being, I encased myself in layers of thermal clothing and headed upriver. I didn’t think the fishing would be that great today and it was true with only one fish to hand.

The fish were thinner higher up the river

The distance that I had to walk for a single fish was a bit too much for me. Over the eroded basalt that was as slippery as glass and the sharp incline of the canyon I couldn’t justify one fish per mile. The sun was bearing down on the walls of the canyon and it was best for me to just move along. One of New Mexico’s issues is the sun. One second you are freezing and the next you are burning alive. Partly cloudy days in the springtime can be confusing when you are trying to decide on what to wear.

On my way down the canyon to my car there was a guy in a kayak paddling UPRIVER! This river is a quick mover and has many sections of class IV rapids. How he came to the point where I was baffled me. When I made it to the car, I decided to move to the Red River again. Further down, I was sure to find migrating fish coming up the river to spawn. Migrating Cutthroats to be exact.

All of the pictures I took of this fly came out red...

Quite the comfy tying station

I sat in the parking area for a few minutes trying to decide what to tie on. The day before, upon my inspection of the river, I had found a ton of caddis larva peeking out of their created homes and was inspiration to tie a somewhat caddis-like larva. Impromptu, in the car, I mounted my vise to the steering wheel and went to work. A dozen or so would do the trick. As a test, I found a small hole to fish the fly. The instant it hit the water, a few fish came out of nowhere racing to get it and the larger fish won. As I was about to take it’s mug shot, it bounced back into the river and went into hiding. The fly had worked and I had to press on.

There is a trail along the river there and you’d better prepare yourself for that hike. It isn’t very long at 1.7 miles but how it is laid out will astonish you. It meanders along the river going up and down the canyon over rocks that will make you lose the trail and back down to the river again. Passing through swamps made by springs and creeping along underneath the low trees and brush. I spent most of the hike leaned forward almost on my hands and knees. Mind you, I am 6’2″ and with the wading boots probably closer to 6’4″. You would have to be about 3′ tall to comfortably hike this trail.

Note that I am seated

When the trail ended, I continued on down the river, and I thought the hike was bad when there was a trail to follow. This river is fast. There isn’t much water here, but it gets pretty rough in places. The deep sections reach about 10′ and the river is very technical. Not a place for the novice fisherman. I was getting very tired and had to stop and fish my way back up. Hole after hole, every first cast was a hook-up.

Crystal clear

I came to a realization on the first fish I caught down there. As quickly as I had set the hook, the fish drilled it’s way down to the deepest and fastest section of the run. A trait held only by a cutthroat. Sure, other trout do this, but they are easily pulled from the current. This fish went down and stayed there like I was hooked into a rock. When I finally pulled the trout from the current, it quickly darted downstream around a rock. It wasn’t as big as I thought, but it’s about quality, right? I had to land this fish. In nearly a full sprint, I followed. Stripping the line in as I ran over the rock that made the riverbend. Then, I tripped and landed on my back on top of a rotting stump. My rod still in the air, I felt defeat as the pain finally settled in. There was still tension on my line. The fish was still there. Not a cutthroat, but half cutthroat. What a fight indeed. Was it worth it? Yes.

The straw that broke the camels back

One of the best trips I have had in a long time. Fighting a cutbow is one thing, but fighting them in a fast river is glorious. Made the twisted trip though underbrush, over rocks and logs, and through swampy mud worth every second of pain I endured. Maybe I didn’t get the big fish as another fly fishing friend did a couple of weeks ago here, but trips are really what you make of them and any trip fly fishing is better than any day spent watching tv (I enjoy my day job).

The fish that waves goodbye

Blistering Wind and a Lonely River (Wild and Scenic Pt:1)

Caddis pupa and cranefly larva ready to go

I can’t think of a better evening than one spent at home tying flies, drinking a beer, and ordering out for pizza. Well, I can, but let’s at least put this in the top 3. Earlier in the week, AZ Wandering’s latest post really got me in the mood for some stream born fish. Then, of Dry Flies & Fat Tires suggested that I check on the caddis hatch in the Rio Grande.  That kills 2 birds with one stone. Also, it kills a third bird that is the possibility of a big 20″ brute.


Day one alarm buzzed at 4am telling me that the early bird isn’t fast enough to get the worm that was eaten by the early fish. Poor, sad hungry bird. With a swoosh, I was off to the river. Two and one-half hours, a cold pizza breakfast, coffee, and an energy drink later, I had arrived. The trip seems a lot shorter than it actually is. The longest part of the drive is from Abq to Santa Fe on I-25. If you have a problem with road rage, find a detour.

A low and mighty Rio Grande

When I arrived at the river some of the fish were already splashing the surface and this fueled my fire as I tied my rig up. My first cast received a strike that pulled my 3/4″ indicator at least 10′ upstream before I even reacted. Whatever this fish was, it was going full steam ahead before and after it took my fly. Needless to say, I missed the fish and stood there confounded. Only twice did this happen and I missed both times. The mystery fish will have to wait (I have an idea of what it was). The word of the day was most definitely subtle. Small twitches from the indicator revealed the first fish of the day. Subtle strikes in this river are nearly impossible to detect due to the undercurrents and general rough nature of the river.

The first fish of the day

Further up the river

Living within this river, it isn’t hard to believe that the fish grow very strong. The fights were unmatched and I know I was only catching the mid-sized fish. There must have been 10lb+ trout somewhere, but where? I hiked for hours up the river, spot fishing likely places on the way. It is not an easy trip to hike and probably the most difficult I have had. The long deep pools weren’t producing for me, so I decided that I could cover more water by fishing the deep runs. In other words, more hiking than fishing. The area is very scary as far as danger goes, from rattlesnakes to deep holes in the water that may exceed 30′. One of the many reasons wading isn’t the best idea, but you may find that they are needed in some areas.

The wind began to pick up around 10am and I was content with the fish I had caught. Content enough to find a place outside of the 50mph+ winds. That place would be Red River. The canyon winds enough to create shelter in some areas, oh yeah, they have trees there as well. I first pulled off by the hatchery and the wind was still fairly rough but moving upstream. Leaving me to hang back and highstick 20-30′ in front of me without casting. There, I hooked into numerous little browns 3-6″ and knew why. A bit too close to the parking lot. Weather was moving in and it was getting late so hiking down the Red River would land me stuck in a canyon in the cold and rain, with the possibility of a swelling river.

Lately, I have heard reports that the upper Red River was “turning on” and with all of the pressure the lower section has had, it was worth a shot. I pulled up to the Fawn Lakes campground (which was still closed) and the snow began to fall. My car told me that it was 27°F, far cooler than the 65° I had been fishing about 20 minutes prior. This section of river always provided me with fish in the past and is usually the test water before I head to the quality water. Higher pressure means the fish are slightly more picky and finding your bug here guarantees fish in the quality section. I switched flies from the caddis pupa to a bug that I had tied for the Rio de las Vacas and it paid off quickly.

Skittish fish

You would think they grew more over the winter

The cool thing about the upper Red River this time of year are the holdover rainbow trout. Smarter stockers from last year grow a bit more and become more willing to take natural foods. The sun had set behind the canyon and was setting on the horizon and the light I had left was fading quickly. After catching a few fish, I decided to make my way back to the car and stop at one more hole on the way.

They mostly come out at night... mostly.

The day was complete indeed. A good day was used scouting the area for more possible adventures in the future. Because of the rain and snow, it was decided that the passenger seat of my car would be my place of rest for the evening. Who knows what the coming day would bring. I did know that my day would begin again on the Rio Grande, but maybe it would move elsewhere. To be continued…

Let The Games Begin

As you may already know, last weekends trip brought me back to the Jemez mountains. My brother is a fan of lake fishing and so am I to a degree. A fan of Fenton lake, not so much. Talk about over fished and over harvested, this place is the first thing that comes to mind. Regardless, the lake is well stocked and happens to be on the cusp of Seven Springs Hatchery, one of the few pure strain Rio Grande Cutthroat providers in the state. Needless to say, Fenton is also stocked with them on occasion. Since the lake is on a river system that has cutthroat, it is stocked with triploid rainbows to block further dilution of the strain. I for one, am a fan of triploidy. Why? Well, they grow larger faster, there is no cross breeding, they are way more gullible (some studies show that the optic lobe and cerebellum are nearly 20% smaller than that of a stream born fish), and they fight a bit harder (assuming all of their fins are intact). Fun to catch, but better to eat. I say keep stocking the place and promoting the park. The rangers there this weekend were very strict, checked all licenses, and issued fines to cars that did not pay. I say go them.

"My God, it's full of cars"

New Mexico is plagued with bad fisherman and I don’t think the state was hard enough on some policies in the past. This was the first time I had been asked to produce my license outside of Tingley in at least 10 years.

I hope these people don't mind their picture...

We arrived shortly after 7:00am and already people were lining the shore, getting the best spots before the crowd wiggles its way between you and your fishing buddies. We parked in the free parking zone and were on our way to the lake. We figured that we would start by the dock/dam and work our way up to the inlet. I figured, this time of year, the holdovers and fish born in the lake would pile up in the inlet for the spawn. On the dam, the stocker pods would still be lingering around the place they were dumped in the lake. There would be enough fish here to break the ice with that first fish. Nate was the first to get one and he got it on the second cast, and the third cast, and the fourth cast. Leaving me with no fish. My 8wt. was rigged with a leech and that goose biot from last time and a short cast (rather than the 70′ of line I was putting on the water hoping for the big one) gave me my first. As Nate switched flies to one of the woolly buggers that I tied the night before, I was up to 12. Then the brotherly competition was on and it wasn’t long before he caught up to me. This called for drastic measures. Two fly rods, one dead drifting the leech combo, and one twitching a woolly bugger.

Good bug!

These fish weren’t even remotely shy and would pull at least 6′ before letting go, then they would give you a second chance, if the first 4 seconds wasn’t enough. This came in handy for me because my drifting rod was laying on the ground next to me. This was the first time that I have seen a 10″ fish pull an 8wt. rod into the water. The fish were hitting really hard and were very active. Around noon, the fishing slowed way down. Nates next fish would prove why.

Nate releases his cutthroat.

Usually around midday the cutthroats begin to scan the shoreline in search of the minnows, and that was the ticket for the woolly bugger. Nate was confused as he fought the fish, wondering what it was and why it acted so curiously. Afterward, he decided that it was best if he added a spinning rod with powerbait. He tipped the scales in his favor. At noon, we were tied at around 30 fish each. From then on I got about 20 more fish to his 40. Bringing the total number to 70 for Nate with 2 cutthroat, and 50 for me with 1 brown toward the late part of the day. I contend that powerbait fish didn’t count and he was throwing my bugs around, thus all the fish he caught counted as my own. Giving me the “W” (plus it’s my blog, Nate). Can you feel the brotherly love? Seriously though, Nate always out fishes me, he has a knack for finding spots that are loaded with fish, and it is usually me that nabs the big fish of the day. He’s the only fishing buddy in the world that I can trust his gut over hard scientific fact.

It's heavy for the size...

A word on the brown trout: I have seen pictures of monster browns that are pulled from this lake once every year. These fish are usually 28″+ and very fat and healthy. I tried to dig up these pictures, but they were never posted on the internet. I knew the pictures were fact, but a fish this size makes a lot of eggs. Over the past few years, I had NEVER caught a brown in this lake and it was very hard for me to believe in this “Loch Ness” type story. Now, my story has changed and I can quit blaming Game and Fish for the typo (although, there are still many waters on the “Fishing Map” where fish are omitted or are said to be there and do not exist Ex: browns in Bluewater creek and the lack of mention of brook trout in Canjilon among MANY others).

The day became windy and we decided not to camp, I missed my chance for some big cutthroat in other water, but I’m going to save the secret spot for the weekend of the 15th. Until then, I think I’m headed back to the enchanted circle for some High Mountain fish thanks to the inspiration from AZ Wanderings. Speaking in that regard, I know I have a few loyal readers by now and I have to thank them for visiting the other blogs that I have linked under the blogroll and thank them again for reading my blog in general.

This is a Tasty Burger!

Nothing says yummy like Samuel L. Jackson. My trip has been delayed yet again, my budget forgot to include a fishing license, so I have to drive 200 less miles to Fenton lake. Before I go though, I thought I would include a life adventure that happened last night. My friend Alex, his wife Casey, and I decided to have a little BBQ. During the summer, this happens at least once a week. It’s quite fun and also hones the skills of cooking and gives me ideas of ways to cook things in the wild.

This particular evening we were making burgers. When I say we, I mean Casey was making fries (which should be world famous), Alex was cutting cheese (in both ways), while I cooked the burgers. Well, Alex had an incident while cutting the cheese (the actual cheese) and sliced his thumb wide open. You can tell the measure of a man by the pain that they receive and their reaction to it. Did they faint, freak out, or remain calm? Not only did Alex remain calm, but after his first aid kit was retrieved by his wife, he began to self-administer the most sterile and well planned first aid that I have ever seen. I really wish that I had the video camera, he could’ve made an excellent training video.

Is it really a good idea to drink and bleed?

After about 30 minutes in bandages, we removed them and the wound was still bleeding. It was under my suggestion and supervision that we superglue the wound together. So, I rummaged through my first aid kit Fly-Tying kit to save the life of a friend. I figure if he loses his thumb, it is totally my fault.

Next up, the burgers. There are a few ways to make burgers. I’m usually a straight up burger guy, but here is a tip for your next burger adventure. What I did with these is folded salt, pepper, garlic, a touch of balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. You can add whatever you like to this, but stick to enhancing the flavor of the burger rather than adding flavor to it.  Roughly 2 tbls of liquid to every 5 pounds of beef. Just fold it a couple of times as to not destroy the consistency of the meat, it will look a bit swirly. Next, throw them on the grill and prep a rub. For burgers, I like 7:3:1 ratio. 7 parts chili powder, 3 parts brown sugar, one part salt. The possibilities are endless for rubs as well, just sub in whatever dry ingredients you would like to add for any of the others. Example: 6:3:1:1 or 7:2:1:1, the last one being the combined total of all other dry spices. If it comes out too sweet, add more chili powder or paprika. When you apply this to the burger, remember that there is sugar involved, when sugar burns it does not taste so good. Add rub in the last couple of minutes of cooking to get the full effect. I throw on the buns and whatever I can to the grill as well. Be careful with any oil over an open fire like butter or bacon. Your perfectly heated and resting coals will become a raging unstable fire.

The rest of the night turned out very well and the burgers made me pretty euphoric and stuffed my insides. I had 2 half pounders and felt as though I was going to pop. If you are still concerned about Alex’s thumb, he’s ok.