Tag Archives: backcountryfishnerd

From Birth to Change

My birth into fly fishing began at age ten. My father, brother and I combed the shores of Bluewater Lake for catfish twenty years ago. Instead of finding catfish, we found a trout. At the time, I had no idea exactly what it was, but I did know that it was cool looking. My head was then wrapped around this fish. My nose buried in untouched books and magazines. My mother probably thought it was a child’s addiction, a passing phase. We were all unaware that this was a precursor to a life made from that addiction. A life so infused with fly fishing, time away from the water seemed like an eternity. Fly fishing ruined my life and saved it at the same time. Relationships were lost, friendships destroyed, all for one goal. To fish. The Lake...

Naturally, after twenty years, I returned to this lake. The lake of my fly fishing birth. Things had changed wildly. Upon my departure in 2002, the lake was so low and temps so high that the goldfish and white sucker population exploded. Gold bands largely covered the lake. Around the same time, Ramah Lake turned over and died taking its huge largemouth bass population with it. For the time, fishing was dead. I took my leave to Florida to study the worthless career path of “Audio Engineering”. Just before I left, there was talk about introducing bass to the lake. Then, talk of tiger muskie. The operation had momentum in 2003 when I returned. It takes a few years to grow a muskie and as I hiked down to the shoreline, thoughts of age began to surface. The oldest fish in this lake is ten, and we broke the state record five times last year. If you dig around in the world of studies and boring graphs, you will find that on average, these fish should only be around fourty inches. Not here, records are already topping fifty inches. This place has become world-class and it will remain that way for the next ten years.

I sat down on the broken shoreline and stared out across the lake. I was looking for signs of muskie. Ducks dove down into the water catching my attention, tricking me into the thought of swirling fish. There were no signs of fish, just calm and very cold water. I began casting clousers and other small flies to no avail. After the first couple hours, the story was about missed hook-ups and failing gear. I even had one snap a hook in two. Something wasn’t right. I tied on an articulating streamer pattern, only about five or so inches and the only one I had tied. On the second cast, I hooked up and lost the fly.frayed

It wasn’t long ago that I was out here and it happened in the same way. I swore I would come after the entire race to retrieve my fly. That day, I tied a ten inch double articulating fly that looked strikingly similar to a parrot. This could have been fueled by my subconscious hatred of parrots, but it was created to be big and bold. I tied with revenge on my mind.

On day two, I threw caution to the wind and tied on the monster. Within the first few minutes I had a fish in hand. They continually came after it, the fly bombarded by swimming baseball bats with teeth. In the wake of each miss, the fly would shed some hair and feathers, floating debris after being struck center mass by a torpedo. The fish came abundantly, sometimes waiting in the dark three feet from shore to come screaming out of nowhere. It became a suspense movie. My little brother was reeling in his lure humming “Pop!  Goes The Weasel”. Automatically, when turning that crank, you know a scary clown will pop out of the Jack-in-the Box. The question was, when? The clowns who stood before me in this lake weren’t happily colored clowns with red noses and a chipper attitude. These were voracious predators. Imagine a hand crank on the side of a lions cage, that is about the level of fear that works through you when you are trying to entice a strike from an unseen monster with a mouthful of razorblades. You expect the clown to jump out of the box at the end of the song. It never happens that way. Ever. That isn’t even the worst part of it! When you look down at the water and your fly, you will see the shadow lurking behind it. Even when there isn’t a shadow, your mind will create one. You will dangle that fly in front of the shadow, then the shadow disappears. It isn’t over yet. It’s like a dog waiting for you to throw its ball. Before you know it, you are evacuating your bladder while this fish tries to rip your arm off. You thought you would be casting until your arm turned to jello, but it isn’t the casting that gets you. It is the huge takes. They even give you a warning twitch! As if to say, “Hey! Watch this!”the take

The excitement never really ends. If you aren’t a smoker, by the time you finish muskie fishing, you will be. Just one to calm the nerves, just one more to calm the nerves… I couldn’t tell if my hands were shaking from the cold or from me being on edge. I walked around the corner into the sun for warmth. A cast and an immediate take and set. I didn’t know I was on with the biggest muskie of my life. As it lifted it’s head, I realized this fish could potentially put me in the hospital. I couldn’t tell the difference between excitement and fear. My whole life lead up to this moment. My life of fly fishing started here. Events of my life had been changing, as did with this lake. We evolved together. Even though we had our times apart, maybe the beginnings will be our future endings.Monster


The San Juan Devil

There isn’t much that can be said about the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. It is big and easy to fish. Once you understand the how, then you can begin to concentrate on what. I mean, there are only so many different thread midges one can have before you just start getting downright bored. To give you a heads up, everyone is going to tell you to fish a cream thread midge and a chocolate emerger from sizes 20-26 (and even smaller). To be honest, this is a good example of people trying to outsmart a half-witted fish. I made it a goal this year to begin picking off large tailwater fish with patterns in sizes of 16-20 based solely upon triggers. Despite what the world says, you can do this. Here is one such pattern…

Introducing the San Juan Devil! It’s a bloodworm pattern really. Typically red thread and red stretch tube or D-rib on a red hook. *Yawn* How bout…

Hook: Tiemco 206 BL #16-20

Thread: UTC 70 Denier Red

Body wrap: Red Stripped Peacock Hurl

Wire: SM red

Step 1: It is very important that you start your thread close to the eye of the hook and short. any lump in this fly is really obvious.

step 1

Step 2: Tie in the wire. Start precisely where your last thread wrap is. Make sure your wire ends near the eye, the head of the fly is the only place where there is a little room for error.

step 2

Step 3: Wrap thread back and keep it in the rear position. This is the part where you strip some peacock hurl (Plumule?). Just pinch between your thumb and forefinger and pull. Sometimes it will break in the process, but they are long enough to do it again in a lower position. Tie it in at the rear of the fly and wrap the thread forward. Do not do the typical three wraps and tie forward, this will create an unforgiving lump in the rear of the fly.

prep 2

step 3

Step 4: Wrap peacock forward and tie it in. Using hackle pliers will more than likely break the peacock (Note: I am dodging the term quill). Use your fingers with a light touch. It takes a while to get the feel, but the end product is better. If you start with a couple wraps a bit loose (yet still tight to the hook), the rest will go easy.

step 4

Step 5: First, I see now that I wrapped the peacock over the wire… So, that is going to bunch up a bit. Anyway, wrap the wire forward in the same direction. Trust me here, this works a lot better than counter-ribbing in this situation. I have found that it breaks less this way… Finish your wire on the opposing side you started it on and build the head as high as the wire. You can whip finish here, cover it with epoxy or do whatever you want at this point. It is done. I only whip finish, no head cement. I like to keep it as slim and dull as possible.

step 5

groupsjd

 

 


I’m Alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not much to say here… The season is tapering off and I need to put forth more effort into editing some things. Here is a snack.


Apex Predators, Lack of Teeth and Renormalized Rationality

tigerHumans like to believe that we are top tier predators. For most, it is true even without the use of weapons. For others, fearsome spiders and snakes reduce the ability to be any kind of predator at all. It is just a part of the human condition. Take away all we have and it wont be long before animals find out that we are delicious and slow bags of meat. What makes us the most voracious predator that walks the Earth is our ability to reason and control the environment around us. All predators do it to some degree. The Orca whale is a great example of this. Thanks to opposable thumbs of humans, we now drive cars with vanity mirrors and cup holders. To me, vehicular travel seems to be one of the most irrational things that humans have done. Why do I mention this? Imagine that there is only one car in the world. How much money and manpower would it take to create and maintain that single vehicle? You need a metal foundry, mines for each alloy, oil wells, refineries, and factories to produce all parts of the car. In terms of human survival, it makes no sense at all. According to some scholars and theorists, the only rational thing in existence is a computer or general computation, simple machines, artificial intelligence. To some degree, fish are simple machines with instinctual, rational thought. At least, this is how I see it. Days of a certain length, water of a specific temperature, optimal flows or height of water, and fish behavior can produce specific results. Fish do not retain memory of the past day, trout do not remember the exact look of the pteronarcys californica. They do know they are hungry around the second week of June. With this being said, there must be a certain instinctual reaction to insects. Much like a moth to flame. They just have to. Machines reacting to the environment.

It was day 33 in a row of work when I noticed a very distinct pain in my mouth. A tooth decided that it wanted to go. The pain was intense. The road trip that ensued was to get to a dentist, 4 hours southwest. I picked a doctor where I had planned on fishing, closer to where I grew up. Why not fish for something toothy when I had lost a tooth? It makes perfect sense to me, to desire the unattainable. Little did I know, my wisdom had slipped away, forcefully pulled from my mouth by a man given a doctorate by peers. Ironically, my line was also dangling in front of fish who should also have a doctorate. The elusive yet prolific Tiger Muskie, a true top tier predator. Their Achilles heel? Anything moving. The catch? They manipulate the environment around them, if your fly doesn’t fall within that harvestable world, kiss your chances goodbye. I see these fish as more curious and apt to strike at a moments notice. Very much like when your brother or sister points at you in the back seat of a car on a long road trip and proclaims, “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” Instead of slapping your sibling or telling on them, in the Tiger Muskie world, you would just simply eat them. That seems pretty rational to me. Rationality, by definition, is having the ability to reason. When a muskie looms a couple feet away from your legs, staring down your fly, you can see reason taking place. You can tell the fish is thinking. You know that it can see you, but can it also see you reason? This is the point where it becomes a game…workin

Fishing is a sport. Plain and simple. Fishing is not a means to attain food. I’ll go to the store and buy a fish to eat before I sit behind a vise for hours designing, thinking, redesigning, rethinking, and repeating. There are so many options of materials in the world of streamers. They begin as just options for coloration and become materials for the science that is swim. Back in the water, predators do not sit reading books of what it is that you will tie, but everyday they will see something new. Something you might already be working on. Everyday you are gone, they learn, they evolve. I can not help but to think the predator also sees you as sport. Like a dog with a towel, it just wants to see if it can beat you one time. Since I feel that these fish are involved with this game, I must play it. The game does not lie in the fight, it is enticing predator and predator into that fight. The acknowledgement of two warriors about to engage in battle, because the fish knows you are there and the acknowledgement is taking your fly.

Although game theory leans into mathematics to hypothesize the rational outcome of an event involving two competitors, one competitor always wins. To further dive into the theory, what happens when two rational players are involved? One would think the universe will fold in upon itself and we would end up in an eternal stalemate. Unfortunately, there will be no universal paradoxical conundrums here. 😦 The simple answer here is both players end up with zero loss or only gain, renormalized rationality. When fishing for predators, we are in competition. A game of evolutionary gain. They call the muskie “the fish of ten-thousand casts”. To me, on cast ten-thousand, you have just changed the game. You dropped your guard and became more like prey. Your actions of stripping became lazier and more erratic, your casts shorter, you sat down and became tired. You changed the environment by accident and by doing so, invoked the wrath of an apex predator that never drops its guard. Next time you are out there on the water with predators, rather than constantly changing flies, play the game and manipulate the environment around you. Change your game and attitude and you will find your huckleberry.photogenic


Mud, Guts and Glory

mudhdr

Fly fishing is for the sophisticated, the rich, the people who define class. As Johnny Cash would say, “They’re probably drinking coffee (whiskey) and smokin’ big cigars”. For most of us, this could not be further from the truth. Well, maybe coffee and cigars… People tend to view fly fisherman as a fine sort, a lot are, but most fly fisherman get down and dirty. Even further down the line, a select few get downright muddy. No matter how you try to glorify it and put it on the pedestal for those who only fish dry flies, the attempt can only be futile. Those who are “trout only” turn their noses and think of you as living in a sod house as they say, “Oh, I’ve heard that can be fun”. Please, allow me to get my straw hat, flannel shirt (or no shirt), and overalls. It is time you finally went a carpin’.

elkcarcass

The trip started out as a normal seven mile exploratory search around the lake shore. I was looking for trout who have remained unpressured for years along a section far too dangerous for boats. Fishing went very well, almost good enough to write about. I’m sure that you are reading this because you are not interested in 20″ trout. Right? On my way back, I found shallow water and saw fins drifting amongst the waves. I have read about this before. They call it the “freshwater bonefish” because you can see their fins moving about the surface, doing whatever it is that carp do. At times they would hurl their bulky bodies into the air so far that I would wonder how. Super-carp, that is the only reasonable answer. I stood in the mud awestruck, thinking how I could catch a beast like this. Digging through my fly boxes, I remembered tying a fly that I deemed curious looking. The Backstabber. Why? I have no idea. What does it look like? Well, like a classic poem, it is up for interpretation. In fact, you are wasting precious carp fishing time trying to figure it out. Buy one (or a dozen) and fish it.

Please take some time to read this letter that I am sending to the creator of the Backstabber.

Dear Jay Zimmerman,
You are the man!
Thanks,
David

backstabber

Where was I… Oh yeah! The brilliance of the fly is unparralelled. The secret is in the physics. Eyes on top of the hook shank put added torque on the fly to make it ride hook point up, but if you affix dumbbell eyes without any dressing, it will lay on its side. The marabou is what aligns the hook vertically, no matter how it lands in the water, it will right itself on the bottom. If you play with this fly in the sink, or take it with you to play with in the bathtub, you will clearly see what this fly is all about. It is a delivery mechanism for a hook to ride point up cleverly disguised as a… ummm… Well, whatever it looks like, a carp is about to be bamboozled. Think about it. Carp, mouth down. Backstabber, hook up.

I tied on the fly and in seconds I was into fish. Time began running away and I was still a mile away from my car. A mile through the mud. It was dark and I had caught more carp than I could fit into a couple hours of fishing. I was bursting with joy and excitement. I had to tell my friends. I received the typical blow off from some and others gave me a heck yeah, but one remained keenly interested. Sure enough, he’s English. A man who goes by the name Adrian, who happens to be a fellow guide. We had loosely planned a trip to chase these fish around the flats, but never really got around to it. In the mean time, I continued fishing after work until sunset, giving carp their daily workout. Also catching those pesky trout and pike.spotless rainbowpiked

The day finally came where Adrian and I both had some free time. We hiked down to the ol’ carp hole to give it a whirl. I told him that he would and showed him how to fish the fly. In no time, I saw a bent rod out of the corner of my eye. I smiled, knowing his feeling. “Absolutely incredible”, Those were his first words upon landing it. I needed no other words. I knew. I had spread the disease of the grungy fisherman.

adriancarp

The moral of the story is (if you are still reading), if your friends make fun of you for carp fishing, you need new friends. It takes guts and a strong forearm, the payoff is glory even if it is just in your own head. This post is out of the norm for me, but the only life changing thing about carp fishing is catching carp. I’ll take the easy way out and post a big carp picture.

hairy knucks


20/20 Hindsight, Foresight Perscription Needed

Trail maps usually list the length of the trail followed by the difficulty. In this case, things seemed normal. There were three levels of difficulty; Easy, Moderate, and Difficult. The map showed “Trail: 1.2 Miles; Difficulty: Difficult; Elevation Change: 800 Feet”. In my mind it said, “Trail: 1.2 Miles“… A walk in the park. In New Mexico, every single element here is out to kill you. There is no soft cushion of grass or a nice tree limb out there to hold you up when you fall. If there is, there is a rattlesnake in that grass and a black widow in that tree. I had forgotten what an unrelenting place this is. Soft and well worn Colorado spoiled me. No worries about cactus and yucca, just big wide trails. Colorado does have some tough trails made for equally tough people. I know trails that have taken lives. Each time I hit a “trail” in New Mexico, I find myself surprised. However, it is no surprise to me that the fishing a quarter of a mile upstream is so good, if you make it alive.

the steep climb

Looking over the map, lights turned green and I was off with haste. Within 5 minutes I was bleeding and suffering from a twisted ankle. 10 minutes, torn shirt and bruised elbow. 1 hour, soaked from the shoulder down. 1 hour and 10 seconds, the smile on my face would not go away. As I chased fish too big for the stream down river, I dropped into holes that instantly dropped four to five feet from ankle deep. I was wet and sore, bleeding and smiling, cold and thinking.

redbow_edited-1

Losing track of time is not alright when you are deep in a canyon. The sun sets at five and sunset is closer to six, giving a false idea of how much light you have left. With the idea that the trail is 1.2 miles, I poked around the stream a fraction of a bit too long, the fishing was almost too good. Before long, I was fishing in the actual sunset and light faded quickly. Not knowing where exactly I was, I figured simply hiking up the steep hill behind me would reveal the trail. A shortcut, back country style. When I could see the point, to my right, there was also another parking lot. I had hiked in well over a mile upstream. I remembered passing a large dead ponderosa and could see it in the distance, but light was fading fast. It was time to put the screws to the hike. Scrambling over sage and cactus, the incline began to become steeper with each step. Then again, the burning in my legs could have simulated the effect.

When in peril, sunsets begin to fade exponentially. The same can be said about life. They say that just before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I began to think that if your life flashes before your eyes like the fading twilight, the time is not nearly long enough. Before I die, I want to relive my life entirely or not at all. Every scratch, bruise, the time I crashed my bike for the first time, when I laid in some long lost trail for hours not able to move on, the heartbreaks, and every moment in between. They also say hindsight is 20/20, but no matter how well we can see something we can not feel it, nor can we bring it back. If we planned it all to work out perfectly in the end, where would we be in life. If we saw the future, we would know what to expect and every moment leading to that one event and would be diminished by knowing. I had found my old tree. It came to me then, the tree never asked to be in this place. It just happened to tumble here and take root. Such is life. We can plan and make goals, but our actions do not make our future position. Our lives are one big beautiful tumbling accident. Sometimes, we take root and grow where we never expected. If we try to change it, our roots will be in sand and we will not be able to grow to our full potential.

under


The Ghost of the Ark and Other Conjured Spirits

Sometime in March, somewhere in the ethereal world of note-making, it was penciled in. Maybe a floating red X on the grid of a calendar that marked Sundays and new moons, but never an old one. Calendars who document the past and loosely plan the future can also be viewed as being human in a way. We vividly remember the good and bad times, but only look to the future. We know that the sixth is on Thursday, but the things that happen that day are up to the Gods that dictate randomly unplanned events in life as the lesser Gods follow up and mark a black X on the days that have passed. The X’s creating a trail like breadcrumbs on a path that is leading somewhere unknown. It is that essential element of life that leads us here. Those damned black X’s. Sometimes it feels as though they know. They are on the inside, collecting memos from unseen corporate entities that flank us like hidden armies in the distance. Yet, we find ourselves waiting for the calendar to be that one day that may or may not be set in stone, marked loosely in red.

The asphalt pushes tar between cracks in an aged road that thumps beneath tires. Rhythmically, like a progressive jazz drummer in a metal band, he somehow keeps track of time in his odd way. The seconds melt away in 13/9 time as I build polyrhythms by beating thumbs against the steering wheel. The waiting game. Waiting while moving. Irony in motion. I was not the only one in this predicament. From the north came a man more than willing to meet halfway. Sanders. Although I can not speak for him, I’m sure he was in his car singing along to the radio, I would like to think he was milling over some last minute paperwork. As a friend, he made the trip. Like old friends, we met.

Life catches up to everyone at some point. That calendar and the X never marks the day your life changes completely, it just happens. As humans, we are accepting and adapting to those changes all of the time. Our greatest works come from some of the most troubling times. Our moment to shine is often humbled by our minds terrible way of holding on to matters that are out of our hands. Matters that may not matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Since Sanders and I found ourselves in the same place at the same time, our plans were now etched and we had to deal with our matters in the only way possible. To fish.

Sanders
After a small tumble, Sanders said that it wasn’t a good sign. I know otherwise. A fall, a broken finger, bruised and bloody elbow, torn waders, all mean that your day will end with a bang. Maybe that bang doesn’t happen on the river, maybe a realization long after the fact. In time, that not so great day of fishing turns into a reflection of why you are on Earth. A rememberence of being alive. The day the world threw stones and you stood up. You shook your fist and the world fought you tooth and nail. In the end, you find that she was against you but you made her bend to your will just slightly. A day that you inevitably won. A day that would shake the foundation of any other man. At the end of it all, I couldn’t ask for more fitting friend, a more fitting fisherman, a more fitting writer.

arktrout

Meanwhile, in a snow covered canyon, flurries of thoughts left fresh powder in a room heated by a small wood stove fueled by perseverance. Something overlooked in our push-button society, but not by any who has ever collected wood. Around a table we sat, cultivating a garden of feathers and fur between us. Much like the conjuration of a spirit, three minds in a trance, spirits were created as spirits of another kind were consumed. Alchemy dripped from pillars of brass and steel. The fur of a squirrel, a wire of gold, the eye of a newt, sew together on steel barbs, just another magic trick in the book. Does it float? Will it swim? Does it fly? This was the mantra in the back of our minds and we all knew it. It is all part of the order. Behind the spinning of thread and wire, of bead and fur, of feather and glass, we created. New life was born, new red X’s appeared. Thank you Erin and Jay for being welcoming as usual.erin and jay


…And Then, There Was Chaos

clouds_edited-1There is no order without chaos, or at least that is how the old adage plays. As silly as it may sound, this statement is not as confounding as people make it out to be. It is not the age old question of the chicken or the egg. In fact, as philosophies evolve, we often realize that some things can not be put under the microscope to be analyzed. Often, our energy is often spent more efficiently and wisely elsewhere. Frankly, the statement of order and chaos is just that, a statement. Some tend to get lost in the definition of it all. Lost in some kind of philosophical wormhole of paradoxical bliss. We find the answer is still the statement, because the statement is the answer. We should really be asking what the question is.

Waking up on the wrong side of the river (in the city) comes with complications that I have yet to find a friendly relationship with. To bring a good example to light, traffic. As much as the highway seems like a river, it is far from behaving anything like one. It goes both up and down hills and generally breaks all of the rules that Newton set into stone. These were my thoughts as I drove to work, preparing a fake smile to people who expected it. Life had become a pattern. A pattern with very limited time to accomplish the things that I wanted. I watched people following the same pattern, some in love with that life, some just continuing on because they assume there is no other choice. Something had to give.

Around lunch I received a text, “Are you coming this weekend?”  Even though it was only a question, I had to say yes. I did this to force myself out of a pattern that I had grown so used to. Such a dry life spent waiting for days off to fish. The only excitement in my life was found drifting the fly down a mildly tumultuous path to serve as a platter for the upscale type of fish. After my fun had been spent, the situation became real again and it was back to the pattern. My escape plan had been forged into an alchemists dream. Twenty-four hours to move from Colorado Springs to Taos.IMGP0814

After work, I packed my things to travel to greener pastures. Pastures that weren’t really green at all. Pastures who are more of a conglomeration of sand, mountains, and water. I knew the cut in pay, I knew that it might mean longer hours, I knew there might be less time on the water, at the very least I would be talking fishing. This was the means to dedicate myself more to the sport and restoration, more time to write, more time to be creative, more time to live. There is no paycheck in the world that could take me away. After four hours of driving through mountains with snow-packed roads and police pulling stranded citizens from the side of the road in unrelenting snow, I had arrived at my new home. Taos, New Mexico. The land of milk and honey… Or maybe just art and fly fishing. btcolor

Now, a month has gone by and my trout senses are reset to New Mexico. The chaos and dust has settled. In the midst of it all, I have still found a way to fish being only 20 minutes away from great water. Through all of the chaos, life just ironed itself out. Around every turn, every hiccup that may have ended in disaster, it all worked out and life hangs in the balance of chaos and order. Chaos that seems to settle if life continues to follow the path of the river. Tumultuous, yet controlled by mother nature. I’ll continue drifting this canyon until my time comes to reach the ocean.IMGP0880


Vote. Name. Win.

I have never done this before and I feel like I am a prostitute now. At least I’m not regifting! However, I know there are a handful of people out there (3 or so…) that enjoy bugs that I tie. Due to some goings on, I have been looking into some very classic patterns to revisit. Because they are not my design, I feel that it is alright to put the ol’ Dave twist on them and give them away. The only problem… I have no idea if they work or which one is the best. I am thinking to do a monthly thing where people vote on their favorite classic revisit, name it, give half a dozen away, then posting a tutorial on the winning bug. So, here goes the test run of this.

I was sifting through the annuls of history and speaking with a few people riverside about bugs. It seems that people really enjoy the pheasant tail (PT), most using it as their “Go To” bug. I have never been huge into the world of the PT, they are usually a bit bulky for my taste. Frank Sawyer never meant for the PT to be a plump insect. He did mean for it to have gills and a paddle tail though. I really enjoyed digging around the bug and if you are a fan of history, this fly has traded hands over the ages to become what we use today. I would have tied this traditionally, but it seems that the tradition of the PT is to modify it.

This leads us into the give away type thing that I am doing here. The rules are very simple. Comment below, tell me which fly you choose as your favorite and name it. The most popular bug wins and the person with the best name for that bug wins a half-dozen. I’ll even ship it internationally. Here goes!

Contestant "A"

Contestant “A”

Contestant "B"

Contestant “B”

 

Contestant "C"

Contestant “C”

The winner will receive six flies Of the winning pattern tied on size 14 Tiemco 206BL (not cutting corners here). Tied by: David Goodrich… With love?

*Contestant “A” spun my camera out of control, so I touched it up by adding contrast and dropping the saturation. The others are untouched.


Death Between Lives

The thermometer in my car read -3 degrees. The snow fell relentlessly as I curled up in my driver seat, praying that my heater would miraculously spring back to life to warm bones that reflected the outside temperature. I shivered knowing that I shouldn’t, my body had no sugars to process for heat. Hours ago, the sun had already made its way over the pass with ease. Something that, in the moment preceding hypothermia, my car and I envied. If I could just make it over the pass and get moving, heat would slowly pour through the vents and save my life. That was only a wish. I covered myself with a slew of winter gear and waited for the sun to make its way over the pass yet again to warm not only the road, but my slowly fading body heat.Vailsnow1

Years ago, while running a guitar shop in Las Cruces, a very warm day brought on a cold revelation. Sitting outside I watched a truck barreling down the road driving at a speed around 70mph in a 35mph zone. Before I could contemplate what a terrible and careless driver this man was, I heard something that sounded like an explosion. I ran to the sound and aid of someone that I had never known. When I had arrived, it was too late and the speeding driver opened his door to find the man who I never knew lying in his own back seat, passing into another world. The man was probably on his way somewhere, never thinking the place he was headed would no longer involve a car. The driver sat on a curb waiting for judgement to be passed upon him as well. I turned and walked away after a short statement. It was in that moment I realized no matter how safe you think you are, your card can be pulled in an instant at any given time.Pansnow1

The thermometer read -12 and inside my car was not much warmer. I rubbed my hands together to generate heat for my slowly numbing fingertips. Out of nowhere, I felt an audible chuckle become an uproar of laughter. The movement helped and the laugh originated from the thought of the previous day. The thought of laughter with my friend on the Frying Pan River and my freezing fingertips that day. In fact, the whole trip and the reason I was stranded here in the snow was due to wanting to test a new fly on a river filled with extremely picky fish. John suggested that we fish the Colorado that morning because he had left his waders in another state, in another car. I somehow talked him into fishing the Pan without the use of waders. While we stood on the banks of the river, fish flew out of the water and we cursed each fish for the taunting. It took a while for us to get into the swing of the river again. For John, it had been three months since he wet his line. For me, I had been fishing the Arkansas tailwater too much. As we changed flies, we picked up the occasional fish, but nothing seemed to work until John switched to a dry, and I to a streamer. The two dumbest flies we could have ever chosen. A “Chewbacca Bugger” and a Parachute Adams were our flies of choice and neither of us expected what was about to happen. Laughter exploded from the walls of the canyon as we began catching fish that we never thought we would catch on flies we never thought would work, on a snowy February afternoon.IMGP0542

That night, John and I ate dinner joking about the waitress the evening before and “Seasoned Fries” that were ordinary fries coated in black pepper.When John asked, she called them “Regular Seasoned Fries” and our confusion as to whether or not they were seasoned or regular was quelled. The food packed my stomach full. As John and I departed, I sat in my car. The last thing I wanted was to drive home in the snow. I threw on my winter gear and drove away unknowingly into a storm. By the time I had pulled out of Glenwood Canyon, I was already worried and running low on gasoline as well as funds in my bank account. The snow began to collect on the road and my car slid aimlessly down the highway, in chaotic control with a white-knuckled driver behind the wheel. Through the town of Eagle, the snow began worsen. My foggy headlights barely piercing the veil of white that fell before me. Vail pass was next, but before I reached the city of Vail, my car nearly spun out of control. Driving time was over and the only thing possible for me to do was wait in a Safeway (ironic, right?) parking lot. As the hours ticked away and my body temperature dropped, the thought of the previous day eventually put me to sleep.fryingpan1

4:00am -17 degrees… I woke up from the cold with a gasp and subsequent cough. Unable to feel my lips and finding it difficult to move, I got out of my car and walked a lap. With feeling once again in my extremities, I had to move. I had to drive. Leaving the Safeway parking lot was difficult, knowing that I might be stranded on the side of the road rather than a parking lot where I could call for help. Even the snow on the road made it tough. With only a couple of hours of sleep, I found myself spinning my tires up the onramp. Inching closer and closer to my destination, I rocked back and forth trying to push my car up the hill. Movement meant heat. As my car skittered onto the icy highway, I heard a familiar sound. A sound I had not heard in over a month. My heater had kicked on! I turned all of the dials to the hottest possible settings. Slowly, the cab warmed to a temperature capable of baking bread. I basked in its heat and breathed a sigh of relief. It was not my time… yet. With a little bit of determination and a lot of luck, I made it over the pass and down into the town of Silverthorne. At 5am, I knew of a place to sleep until it was warm enough to fish. I did just that.IMGP0554oldbuddy2

This new day was never supposed to happen. I should have been dead, or at the very least, at work. This day was a new one, the day after I didn’t die. As I cleaned my waders, I thought about the man I had never known. I wondered if he had passed on a day that he truly enjoyed, that was full of love and fulfillment. While fishing that day, I asked the same to myself. The answer was a resounding, “No”. My love is the river, and my heart belongs there, I was born to die on it. With the fresh thought of death in my mind, I realized that the only value of life is to find your fulfillment. The only way to accomplish fulfillment is to chase your dreams. The following day at work, I wrote a letter of resignation.IMGP0548