Monthly Archives: November 2011

Oh, The Night (The First 50 Yards)

The night creeps in slowly, hauntingly. The air, much like the river, drains down the canyon walls bringing winter with it. Along the mountainside, diesel engines from groomers pave new paths for skiers, and like the inner workings of a clock, countdown the time before this river and others slow to an ice-choked crawl. There is tension along this river, yet a sweet peaceful light is cast by the moon emerging from the canyon walls. The moon ushered in the night as the wind ushered in winter. Work quickly. Work patiently. An inhale with the back cast. An exhale to lay the fly in the seam on the forward cast. The exhale previously invisible, was now visible. More peace. Each nervous heartbeat ticked away the seconds left in the day. In my head was the rush of the river , the breathing, the casting, the machinery, all a symphonic crescendo to the coming end. 

I watched my nymph swiftly sink into the seam, a flash, set, tension, an explosion, release. Twice. Then, I hooked into my first 10″ freight train on this river. 

I looked at the moon. It shined a brighter light upriver. Begging me to test the waters further upstream. The leviathon awaits.


“Project Healing Waters Is a Go. Over.” *click*

I’ve been getting the itch to build a rod lately. I’m growing tiresome of the 15+ year old 5 wt. I have been using as my duty rod. My natural inclination is to ask someone I know to help me out. Enter Larry from Fly Fishing Crazy. We chatted about the blanks that I would purchase for my first build. For me to get acquainted with the process, I decided on building an 8wt. It didn’t take long after the decision was made before Larry brought up Project Healing Waters and the rods that T.L. Johnson has made to also support the effort. Did I mention that it was in his truck the whole time?

Project Healing Waters is an organization dedicated to the assistance of disabled vets through fly fishing. Unlike a lot of organizations out there, I can actually sum it up in that one sentence. Crazy, right? I have a few military friends and I know how active duty can change a person. My brother is one such soldier, sent to Iraq to fight. Coming back, he seemed a lot different and his social interactions with other civilians were gone. We took a lot of trips that summer and fishing really changed something in him. He said that it allowed him to concentrate on something other than the past, to focus on a new endeavor. A lot of these returning soldiers need that same kind of help. Injured or uninjured. PHW provides that support through tying and casting classes as well as fishing trips.

My Mission: To test the 4wt. T.L. Johnson Army #001 and return it safely to Larry.

My Location: Cache La Poudre; approx 1400 hours

Synopsis: I loved the 4wt. You could feel the rod load and release, giving you a smooth and accurate cast with a great presentation. The loading came in really handy when mending line. The rod easily threw around 5-6′ of line almost effortlessly. Too effortlessly for me. I would throw out a 6′ mend when I wanted 6″. Something I got used to in a short period of time. I’m used to nearly roll casting to get a 2′ mend in my old rod. The rod really did everything I wanted and the line followed it’s instruction like a soldier and his general. There were only two drawbacks to the rod (Larry told me to be honest). If you overload the rod it under performs. Which by all means exists in every rod out there, and the way this rod is made, you can feel that overload point and how much leeway it gives you is fantastic. Issue #2: There is a slight delay of about 1/4 to 1/2 second in the hookset time. The rod loads a bit if you try to quickly set the hook, making longer distances more difficult to set, but remember that this is a 4wt. You shouldn’t be trying to lay out 70′ of line. The playing of fish was fantastic as well, I could have easily fought a fish with an 8x tippet. The flex of the rod was great, and it holds a lot of power in the lower third. All in all, this rod was great! It really reminds me of a woman. If you try to push her to do something, she won’t. If you don’t ask, she does it on her own and then some.

Now… Should I finish the mission and return the rod? Oof… tough choice.

More on the Poudre trip shortly…

To edit this post, I did not mention that when you purchase a rod 20% and $20 of the purchase price go to Project Healing Waters. Order them here! You know that Christmas is coming…

The Best Bad Good Day Ever

Recently Sanders and I made a trip to one of the most fishy looking rivers on the planet Earth. The South Platte. To me, fishy is technical, confusing, and incredibly hard to fish. Just my style. Fishing isn’t really fun unless you work at it. This day was that very definition of the word fun. It was the best bad good day a person could have. Good: Watching healthy fish feed in every seam. Bad: Well, I guess that deserves a story.

The day started early with a phone call that I thought was my alarm. It was Sanders, I answered.

Me: Hello?

Sanders: You ready?

Me: (thinking Sanders was lost in my part of town trying to get directions) Where are you?

Sanders: In front of your house.

Me: What time is it?

Sanders: 6:00 am

Me: Shit! I’ll be out there in a minute.

As I scurried out the door trailing my boots, bag, and fly rod behind me I thought that even the best good bad days ever begin with a hitch, right? My hair was matted down from the pillow and there were creases in my face from sleep. It’s ok when you are fishing. I guess that applies when I’m not at work. It was cold in the morning. In the rush, it went unnoticed. Before I knew it we were off. Then again, maybe I didn’t know. I hadn’t yet fully awakened. To the gas station for crullers and coffee! Closed. Ok, to the river!

If I remember correctly it was in the teens. That’s too cold for fishing. Not because it is hard to endure, but because of line freeze. Being from New Mexico, I know cold. It is a place where fishing in the morning is a pipe dream with days that start from 0 and go up from there into the 50’s. Here, it’s just cold. All day. That canyon never saw 35 that day.

When we peeled ourselves from the warm car to greet the river I was chilled to the bone. Must have been 33 degrees. I’m not cold when the temps drop below 33 or when they are above 35 or so, but when it is in the 30’s woah nellie. We gawked at the river and the fish that were crowded therein. I walked along the ice that had collected on the waters edge. I had forgotten to bring the studded soles and was slipping around in the snow and ice. I felt like a child. I knew at some point it would give way, and it did. I’m glad I was wearing waders. I was ecstatic that the water was only knee deep. Hiking over snow covered boulders where the river was impassible was impossible. This is what I needed. Punishment. Punishment for a prior skunking. After wetting the lines in a few pools and coming up with nothing, I was only left with hope. Then, when we least expected it, success!

All of the time driving was worth it. Enduring the cold, worth it. Falling through the ice, worth it. Scrambling out of the house, worth it. Sanders stealing my glasses and holding them hostage, worth… Wait, that wasn’t really worth it. A day with a good friend and a few fish in the cold is the best bad good day I can think of.

Lesson 17: Test ice before walking on it. You never know how deep the water really is.

White Hot Love After a Blistering Cold Day

As I hiked down the trail back to the car I sang. Not a soul felt like hiking in that cold snow. I sang louder knowing that John and I were the only two people left on the trail. The karaoke disc in my head played silent Christmas songs and I sang them out loud to an empty hall. I’m sure John and the trees enjoyed it. After all, I feel like I’m a great singer and I’m sure the trees would agree.

The thoughts in my head were bouncing as well. The day was exceedingly hypnotic, fresh, crisp. I watched the snow collect on the pine needles and pull the dying grasses to the Earth. The clouds were low in the sky and the images of being there were perfect. The catching was on and my goal of the “Big Trio” was accomplished. There was a bounce in my step in the few miles of trail to the car.

Just before we made it to the car, I thought one last thought. Hot Chocolate. Not just any put-it-in-the-microwave cocoa. Cocoa from scratch. White Hot Cocoa. My mouth began to water and my body went into relaxation mode. After the hot cocoa, it becomes hibernation. Yes, this potent stuff has coma inducing side-effects. Here is how it is done:

Warm up 1 cup of cream in a big pot:

Add 1 cup of white chocolate morsels and allow them to melt, don’t get things too hot, good things take time:

Add 4 cups of half & half slowly. I usually do it 1 cup at a time every minute or so. If you go too fast the chocolate will recombine and leave strings of chocolate on top of your mug:

Right before you serve, add 1/4 teaspoon of the best vanilla you can find:

Serve. Enjoy. Hibernate.

Also, in an 8oz glass you are looking at like 1200 calories. Just saying. Note the beer mug I served myself, I need insulation this year.