Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Prolonged Goodbye

Lately, I have been fishing almost too much. Every second spent not working has been spent fishing. There are a few times that I have been out that I still have yet to write about. One of my favorites was a day on South Boulder Creek below Gross Reservoir. In that same area and the headwaters of Boulder Creek are the places I have been exploring lately. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the high mountains, in the still water butted against high alpine peaks and the most recent place was teeming with feeding fish.

The weekend started when Joe came to visit from New Mexico. After settling into Denver, we decided that a high country camping trip was in order. As far as my knowledge of Joe’s fishing adventures go, I can not remember a time that he has been to the high country to fish. At least not this high. We hovered around 11,000′ in one of the most spectacular mountain valleys I have seen to date. It was almost otherworldly. The flow out of the lake spilled down a cliff and the story was the same for the inlets to the lake. Like strings held by mountain peaks to hold up the lake.

The trek began the day previous, with Joe, Jace, Jacob, and I fishing some beaver ponds about 1,000′ below the lake. We fished while we waited for John to head up the mountain from work. It didn’t take long for “Dave’s roller” to start pulling fish from the river. Still small, but very feisty critters. The roller seemed to be the ticket for the whole trip. When John arrived we mentally prepared for the “2 mile” hike to come with sandwiches and other assorted tortilla holding material. Not to mention the unbelievable Cool Ranch Doritos and bean dip. If you have yet to try it, do it.

I woke up early to tie some extra Rollers and a quick breakdown of camp and we were off. Wait…

Ok, we’re off!

After hiking the 4.25 mile trail we couldn’t wait to get catching fish. Even at the entrance, they rose to the surface in numbers I barely fathomed. Early on in the day the fish were ultimately aggressive, but as the heat of the day wore on, the bite slowed to deeper water. We saw that water from a distance and there “Chewie” and the soon to be famous (not really) “R2D2” shined in glory. 2 deepwater bugs found fish hovering around the bottom. Looking into 20′ of absolutely clear water is a sight to behold and watching a fish cruise through what looks like the air is even more spectacular. One of those things that you long for when your eyes close. Joe, John, and I had no trouble getting into the fish, but the kids seemed pretty intent on taking in the world around them. More than anything, the snow.

As each second of the day ticked by, it was one more cast, then we will go, one more fish and we are gone. So far from the truth. After quitting with the excuses of staying, we descended. Then ascended. Then descended again. Strange trail. The four of us were exhausted when we made it back to the truck. About a minute into the drive to John’s car, the kids were out like wet noodles in the bed of the truck while we relived the amazing day that we had.


Lesson #12: Don’t Die!

Lately the lessons for the posts have been slacking. Today the post will be dedicated to the lesson. This could be the most important lesson to consider during your trips to the mountains. In fact, you might use this lesson on a day to day basis in normal life (ie: non fishing days). You may even feel that you should share this bootlegged secret in the dark corners of a speakeasy. Share this information at your own discretion. In fact, you may be wondering at this very moment where I, myself came across this highly confidential and curious lesson. This is that story.

The sun was still lofted high in the sky, like some great creature pierced the veil of our big blue atmosphere. Peering in through the peep hole into our world the giant could see the melting snow and fresh new grass trammeled over by a few sets of wandering feet. The world was happy, not the grass so much, but in general. Birds sang new tunes with little musical notes spewing from their beaks, lullabyes to the bears to sleep the day off. The trees could have been dancing and somewhere in the forest, bigfoot could have been baking an apple pie. All was right in the world as two wayward fisherman made their way up the mountain.

Ascending to well over 11,000 feet in elevation was easy when it is fueled by the anticipation of catching wild trout (at least as wild as brook trout come). The trail was more of  a creek ready to wade through, rather than solid ground that is easy on the feet. The quality of the trail made a difficult ascent. Scratch that, a better phrase would be falling up. The happy world pointed the direction with a few precariously placed and super swinging signs. Two fisherman stumbled, as happily as one can stumble, onto a lake that dreams are made of. Accented by the contrast of blue sky, green trees, gray alpine mountaintops, and soft snow, each thing added to the next. The giant artist’s brush strokes were filled with intent.

Then, with all the help of positive and negative charges, the sky blackened. Fury could not remotely describe what was about to happen. The trees went back to being trees. Bigfoot decided to give the apple pie a rest until another sunny day. The bears of the sky were awakened. The two fisherman were in the line of fire. 60 vertical feet marked the alpine. 60 feet of error. 60 feet away from lightning. Finding a place to wait it out in the trees could have been a good idea, if it didn’t start to hail. A hurried resting place still made for wet and slightly painful spot to reside. The lightning struck everywhere, some futuristic weapon firing upon its enemies from the sky, fighting a war against electrical conduits to ground. It turned sand into crystal and humans to potential ash. Beneath the canopy of trees being beaten down by hail and the potential fear of a lightning strike, the two fisherman waited.

The storm had passed and the two fisherman emerged from the sanctuary feeling as though they had cheated death, cheated the wrath of the clouds. Then, it was time to fish.

It is always good to have an indian guide for when you lose the trail. Sometimes better than GPS.

At first the take was slow, but quickly picked up. The fish were small but aggressive and would only eat “chewy” the aptly named woolly bugger.

On the way down, they only fell on the slippery surfaces a few times and spoke of the day that they just had, the adventure. It is always pure adventure when your life is at risk, makes you think about the ordinary things in a different light. This was one of those ordinary days where we learned, “Don’t Die”.

 

 

 


To Whom It May Concern…

Recently I’ve found a new job. I didn’t realize that 10 hour shifts would take so much time. I hope the lame attempt at a joke worked there. Good news though, I’ll have 3 days a week to fish. Lately, fishing has been kicking my you-know-whatsit. The rivers remain high even after the runoff has slowed and the rain is becoming a bit bothersome. Did I move to Washington or Colorado?

Undaunted, there is still an adventure to be had today. My guess is that when you read this, I will be casting to fish that may or may not be under my fly.

A few weeks ago I mentioned “The Battle of the Buggers”, I was going to post later about the bugs that we were using, so this is a good time to post the picture of the bugs.

There are a few things I do a bit differently when it comes to tying buggers. I use flashabou as a rib. Whenever the dubbing gets scruffy, it really adds a dimensional look. The ones on the right were the winners of the war. Olive and brown buggers. I’m off to fish! Sorry the writing was a bit off today! Enjoy this weekend!

 


The All Night Buffet

Maya mythology has a name for the inky darkness that  water takes on at night, Xibalba. Translated, it means the place of fear, the underworld. The Maya would make sacrifices into caves filled with water. Sacrifices not just to the dead, but also the lords of the underworld. They would make these sacrifices, sometimes human, with the theoretical thought that the barrier between water and air, or light and dark was the magical entrance to another world. Water at night has a different feel, different unknown factors. A fear of what lies beneath the water is in every person to some degree. Night multiplies the fear. Your eyes play tricks on you suggesting an alligator, or even Nessie (sans apple pie), are casting shadows beneath the water. Waiting for you to get too close.

Casting a fly rod into the darkness is a humbling experience gauged by feel rather than sight. You don’t realize how much your cast is based upon vision until your line pierces into the veil of darkness. It requires a certain mastery of your rig, or at the very least, luck. Once the line hits the water, instantly your eyes widen to accept incoming light, trying to see some sign of where your fly is. The stars that reflect off of the water are your only guide. A short strip and water pushed away from your indicator glistens with reflected starlight. There it is, waiting for nocturnal leviathans stalking prey in the shallows, for the denizens of Xilbalba to give it a tug.

A quick evening session before eating and calling it a day, that was the plan. The water was on the extreme side of murky and the fishing was slow. No fish to hand after about an hour, but the cool rain moved in and changed that. Offering a few fish before the sun finally made it’s way behind the steep canyon. As night began to set in, we headed back to the car and with unspoken words, Xilbalba called us. “Stop. Fish here for just a moment in the fading light. The car is right there. Cast.”

Passing motorists thinking, “What fools.” And fools we were. Hopped up on caffeine and fishing.

It was an all night buffet. A fish on every few casts.

We doubled up on fish more than a handful of times.

They began to grow in size.

Before we knew it, the clock rolled over to 1am. Both of us starving, in need of a break. Time to go home… Relish in one of the greatest, once in a lifetime fishing day nights. Keep remembering it, don’t fall asleep while driving to dream about it.