Monthly Archives: June 2012

Legendary…

This is one of those times as a fisherman, you may feel as though I am bending the truth. I can assure you that I am not… Or am I? These past few weeks have brought me some great fish and I really can’t believe my luck as of late. I’m ready for my brutal skunking.

In the night, I hiked down to the river. It hadn’t quite turned to the inky black that is fuel for my greatest fear. I squinted to see the bottom of the river. Small shadows lined the earth beneath the river. “Nothing but ten to twelve inch fish,” I said to John as we set up the tent. We both shrugged it off. Any fishing was good. When we finally hit the river, I caught my first surprise. A yellowstone cutthroat, at least 18″. I figured it was a fluke. When I met up with John upriver, another larger than the last. John scowled, I scouted higher. John fished a hole full of the monsters. He hooked into a small rainbow. Ten inches at best. I looked away and heard a loud “holy $%!#, look at this!!!” A fish was aggressively chasing his rainbow. Not just any fish, the legend. I couldn’t really tell its size, but I would guess around 26″ or so. After releasing the rainbow, he recast and looked at me and said, “that would be crazy if…” I saw it roll over on the Hail Mary. John turned ghost white and we both knew what just happened. That inhale… Preparing for something in silence. It rolled, I jumped in, it ran, swam under the bank, under my feet, ran again, I missed with the net, it went over the waterfall and found a massive hole beneath the waterfall, I reached in to grab its tail. This moment felt like I was saving a man, like I had him by the arm. At one point I thought I grabbed a tree. A shake, a slip, and gone. My heart sank. It was my fault. I had lost the largest fish of John’s life. Heck, the largest cutthroat I have ever seen. The legend lives. Feeding on small rainbows… Waiting below the falls.

Both of our phones were dead, but here is the bigfoot type shot of the next fish.
image

Advertisements

Lost and Found Pt: 4 (Redemption)

They were ghosts of past fish, protecting the lives of the future. Legends, protectors, guardians. Through the gin clear water I spotted the residents feeding in the seam. Their red flashing sides a remnent of stocking in the early 20th century. They were legendary in their own right, carrying genetic code from both steelhead and redband. Like messengers to the future about what not to do and the ghosts protected it, kept it sacred. I knew they were there, just beyond the seam, either out of sight or invisible. The only evidence of their existence was a hookset, a screaming reel, then nothing. For two days I tried to land one, the third day brought a new feel for the fish. When I connected with the fish, I felt the movements. Dancing against one another. Playing the game of attrition. Watching the head shake and dive as my rod pointed left and right. Then it ran. I could feel the strain in my line. I had a ghost. Down the chute it went. I ran along the shore, through bushes and over rocks keeping tension against the ghost. In the slow water I felt it growing weaker and the power it still had. I worked it in close and saw Hail Mary sunk just above the maxillary. The ghost was real. image

Sorry about not wearing a shirt… It was hot. Here are a couple more fish for ya…
image

image


Lost and Found Pt: 3 (The Last Straw)

Maybe I’m committing some sort of phrase crime, but “the last straw” reminds me more of “drawing straws” than it does camels. In movies, to up the ante of suspense, the last guy to draw the straw always gets the short one. Camels are obviously no exception to the rule. The idea is that something so miniscule is piled on in such a way that just one more can wear you down completely. This thing on day 3 was the mosquito.

Some things force me to randomly burst into dance, old funk is one of those. Mosquitoes also make me dance. In a way that is much more frantic and uncontrollable. Sometimes even running is involved, but this isn’t the first time…. *cue dream sequence* July something, 20 something. The day and year aren’t important. The place, San Juan river, New Mexico. It was something like 322 degrees outside and the only way to cool off was to stand deeper in the 30 something water. The fishing was insane on dries and I couldn’t leave. 3:00pm came, I had been marking the time of day to change flies. It was time, a tan foam top emerger. Why? The mosquitoes. Millions of them, so many that i was the only one left on the river and no amount of bug spray could keep them away. The fishing became better, but there is nothing you can do to fan bugs off of you when fighting fish. When I made it home I counted… 133 bites. I remember it well. I was almost in tears and the fever made it worse. *cut dream sequence, present day*

When we arrived at lake #3 you could hear them looming in the distance. The idea was to get low, wear some camoflage and wait, bayonette ready. Although armed, no weapon could defeat this enemy. It was 2 against a few million. It seemed that even the fish were hiding. We moved to lake #4. There were less numbers, but more aggressive beasts. Interpretive dance was the only escape. Fishing improved. Lake #5. We were on the front lines, dancing, running, and screaming. Lake #6. More front lines fighting, and fishing was awesome if you could sit still. Lake #7. All was calm as the sun set. With one fish to hand at this lake, I was alright. There were only a few mosquitoes. Was it worth the 40 some bites? Fishing is always worth it.
image

image


Lost and Found Pt: 2 (The River)

The River is code named “Lost and Found” after Annette and the fact that this river is so overlooked. The day started early after an all night snoring competition between John and I. If there was a ranking system for snoring, I’m sure I know the top 10 competitors in the world and he and I would rank in the top 5. As it stands, the winner is still yet to be determined as there was no “official” judge.

Without a hitch we were off to fish while other campers dreamed of home after a long weekend that seemed a great idea at the time, but after a few days in the forest with family, things get rough. We looked over the river with great anticipation saw fish from the road as we geared up. They were feeding. They were massive. They were ripe for the picking and it wasn’t long before John’s resident skills paid off.image

The fish here surprised me everytime, like hooking into a freight train moving solidly up a hill. Not only that, but these fish were brilliant swimmers to the extreme and put a wicked bend in the Sage One that it has never seen. The rod did play the larger fish better than I thought it would. Still, even with its superb construction, I lost fish and flies by the dozens. Some fish would strike so hard and so fast that they would break the 6x tippet before I even realized a fish had taken the fly. Frustrating. After some time, I did begin to find the groove and landed some of my own.image

Days 1 and 2 on “Lost and Found” drained the life from me. Between the sun, extremely difficult terrain, fighting fish, and casting, everything hurt. I even felt as though my rod was starting to feel lethargic, on the last limb, ready to throw in the towel, or die trying. Every step worth every cast worth every fish.image

Toward the end of the second day, I found the hole of holes on the river. I deemed it “The Chute”. It was the last pocket of water twenty feet from some wicked whitewater. Let me give you a quick rundown of fish before I explain the difficulty here. The fish in the river were averaging 16-19″ and a 12-14″ fish was around one in ten. 20″+ fish were about one in three and nearly impossible to land. For the days we were here, I needed to land a 20. So many times I set the hook into them. So many times I caught a glimpse of the fish before it was gone forever into the depths of Lost and Found. I cast into The Chute and pulled out a few fish (most importantly one containing 2 of John’s flies from the previous day), but there was one I that nearly gave me a heart attack. I saw a flash and set, solid hook set, no movement. I thought I had been snagged on a rock until I moved forward and saw its back vaguely beneath the current. It was a fish and it had the Hail Mary locked in its jaw. I pulled harder lifting the fishes head into the current. It did not like that at all. Off it went. It is said that a rainbow trout can accelerate to 23mph in one second. This fish easily broke that record and flew through the air like a salmon trying to get to his headwaters to spawn. My reel screamed in pain as the fish swam full speed down The Chute and into the deep run 50 yards downstream as I gave chase on land at a much slower pace. I made it to a slow pool along the run to work the fish. As I was settling in, the fish violently shook its head and both my flies and fish were gone. It was time to go. We moved on, to higher country.


Lost and Found Pt: 1 (The Journey of “Annette”)

There are so many metaphors between life and fishing that in this particular instance, they all apply and may remain unnamed. Even as I write, I know that some will shine through. If you know me very personally, you know what I have been going through as of late and again references to my life will be found in this post. Which is why the words will come first. Parts 2 and 3 will contain the trip (and the fish).

Lonely, drifting there in a back eddy, swept down the river by unnamed circumstance, she waited. Before I met her, Annette knew it was time to travel. She waited in a place she new I would find her. Maybe this was her freedom, maybe she needed to drift this this river to begin a new life. Trying to run from things that never happened as she chased down a dream. Stuck somewhere between both on a journey that only understands how to move forward. I removed her from her river, saved her, controlled her environment, and respected her. What more could she need? The same question that i have asked for years. What more is there that I couldn’t give, and why wouldn’t you say so if there were? Annette needed something new, I only know this after she left and would only ever truly understand and grasp the idea after she was gone. Hindsight is always 20/20 and one can’t be mad for things that have happened in the past because this is today and what we have to deal with is what we have right now. Annette was gone and I didn’t even realize that she had left. She didn’t slam the door or scream, just quietly moved along into another river, maybe to the ocean with calm waters where life would be simple, maybe onto that dream she had, maybe back home where I had saved her. The answer may never be found. Does it really matter? We know the case and the possible future, but Annette knew the future and that is good enough for me. On my way further down the same river, I accepted it somehow. This had nothing to do with me at all, it was the Journey of Annette. I walked further and ran into a group of fisherman, after hello’s one asked, “Did one of you lose a net?”
I said, “Yes, she is yours now. She is on a journey.”