Tag Archives: backcountryfishnerd

Eleven Years to Realize

IMGP0312Writing, deleting, tying, untying, the two foot by three foot table looks like the unorganized spillage of my mind. Spewed forth like a snake-in-a-can birthday surprise of creativity, it reflects itself upon my desk. Like a child and it’s box of Legos, our first reaction is to just dump it all out on the floor and start playing. If I still had the agility to do so, I would be on the floor, hunched over, digging through a shoe box of materials, making space ships that were designed to obliterate enemy Cobra G.I. Joe forces. This is now, and Lego as well as G.I. Joe toys of my childhood are now more expensive than my habit of tying and fly fishing. Not to mention my explosion sounds have gone unpracticed for years. The same principle applies today, my childhood creativity taught me a craft that I will take with me until I die.

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My first vise was a gift, unwrapped alongside a fishing watch that replaced my calculator watch. No book that would teach me the art of fly tying, just a box with some random materials and hooks. Materials that look like the type that are found only at craft stores for ten cents a bag. With a little help from the library’s microfiche at my elementary school (this was before the internet), I had finally tied my first blue dun. Into my teens, it was no longer important. The vise was buried in a box of my old stuff and instead of honing my skill, I pushed the easy button. I purchased flies (this is where you gasp).

High school brought on new things, mainly wedgies and girls. To my surprise, as I reflect upon it now, an English teacher changed my fly fishing life forever. His name was Clayton Rowley, and he was usually found behind his desk reading or mulling over some sort of teenage rendition of a movie they had watched instead of reading the book. Probably angrily, and it was probably mine. There was always something different about Mr. Rowley, and it really was his way of teaching. Progression. He stopped me one day after class and said something to me about a literary work that I had written. I had genuinely looked at something from a different perspective and he rewarded me for it. Thinking outside the box was cool in his eyes and his reward of a simple, “I really enjoyed that, why don’t you write like that all of the time?” was imprinted for the rest of my life.

Now, upon my Arkansas thinking rock, there were no shadows darting beneath the graceful current. I drifted flies to no avail for a while before seeing a large rise out of the corner of my eye. The riffle downstream. They were moving. Seems a little early to begin the spawning process, but the colors of the fish were becoming vivid and their bellies full. Practically running across the river, I began digging through my box to tie on a prototype bug. One of many I had tied the week before. One that I was not completely sure would work. Within a matter of seconds after the first cast into the riffle, I was into my first big fish of the day. It had worked. All of the prototypes after, all working and working well. One stood above the rest, one that I really should keep myself from sharing. A new type and color of the “Halo Midge”.

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Last week, I poured out my box of Legos and made a spaceship. A deceptive ship that fooled leviathans. As I brought them to hand, I smiled. Not because I had caught a fish. Not because I tied a fly to catch that fish. The reason for my smile was knowing I had held onto my childhood imagination long enough for it to be effective. When I couldn’t feel my toes anymore, I sat on the riverbank wondering if Mr. Rowley ever fly fished. If he had never felt the bending of a fly rod, maybe my thought of him would allow him the chance. Although our paths of life only crossed briefly, his effect upon my future was great. For that I thank him.

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Formal Introductions

I hate writing, there is so much I have to learn. Does a semi-colon go here? Is semi-colon hyphenated? Did I spell hyphen correctly? Is hyphenated a word!? Do not ask me what I think a preposition is. If you have ever fished with me, you know how I feel about rules. You know, matching hatches and whatnot. I feel the same about writing. With that being said, there is something about writing. It is not a passion, it is not a love nor vanity, you are just drawn to it. Sometimes it feels like you have to. With that feeling, I think the next phase of writing in my life has begun. Focus. Great writers have something that you just can not explain. I am not saying that I am, I have a very long way to go and picking up a third grade english book would be a great start. No matter the skill of writing (I think I was supposed to capitalize “English”), writing is about telling a story and conveying that story in such a manner that it is gripping. My family and others know me for being the most anti-climactic storyteller alive. It is true, and embarrassing. I can not end a story with power unless I am writing. Even then, I read the draft and think, “Wow, this sucks.”

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Prepare your brain to change pace, I hope the picture helped. Habits are hard to break. When you finally notice that you are developing a habit it is too late. Commas are my Achilles Heal as well as boulders that I can sit on in the river. Who would think that commas could be a habit?  Recently, I realized that there is a certain rock on the Arkansas that I sit and think on. Every single time I fish this river, I head directly to this rock and sit. I sit for a period of time watching fish feed near the surface. Waiting for the long black shadows streak across the seams as I pick feeding lanes and flies. Recently, the Arkansas has been releasing its treasure.

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On the thinking rock, the past and this page began to flash before me. Two years have gone by and I have sat in this room telling stories to passers-by. Random people who deem my writing good enough to read. Some say that I am a good writer, but at times I do not feel that way. The same feeling came along at times when I was a musician. I didn’t feel as though I was good enough. I heard other guitarists that would blow me away. Ultimately, it lead to the demise of my rock stardom. I felt like I was at the apex of my ability (not the apex of playing guitar). In writing and fly fishing, people blow me away on a daily basis. There are better fly fisherman, better writers, but mostly people better at marketing than I. People that know an industry that I have excluded myself from for years. Upon this thinking rock, a chain of thought and the surface was broken by a fish and a big smile across my face.IMGP0056

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Last year on the Arkansas I have been using different colors of the same pattern. Quite frankly, I have been using that pattern everywhere to some success. The bug today, a cream/brown Hail Mary, a new addition to the color scheme. After catching a few fish out of one hole, it was time to move on down the river to a different thinking rock. A rock that faced me a tad bit northward and on an odd side of a run that nobody really fishes. Watching countless fish rise, my thoughts came back to this page.

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Thoughts to this page reflected my attitude about the guitar. I didn’t really want to be known. I wanted to be in the background, to be invisible. I wanted the right people to find me. People who would go out of their way to support my… Well, for lack of a better term, addiction to writing. These people found me. Every comment you see down there are people that have stumbled across this page and deserve that same support from you who read this. We aren’t searching for popularity, it is something else entirely. Maybe we just want to spread our enjoyment to other readers. There is a fine line between people who “write” for popularity and we who just write. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I was being egocentric and vain. Inner turmoil was overflowing and for a time I just sat on the rock, thinking about things that shouldn’t matter.

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What does matter is that I fish, take pictures, and write. The only reason, “because”. For those who may have never known, my name is David Goodrich and I am a fly fisherman. I hope the people who have been reading for the past couple years stick around for a few more. You might get some special surprises. To the people who have promoted and read this page, I can not thank you as much as you deserve. I am ready for this next year.


There’s No Place Like Home

Home is a very multifarious word. In one way, it can simply mean the place where you sleep. In other, more complex terms, it has to do with a place to go for deep love and comfort. It is the type of place where you can take a deep breath and relax without thinking about anything in particular at all. Home is the place to reset and retrieve what you lost while you were away. Maybe it is the smell of fresh baked bread and cookies, or the “fresh baked bread and cookies” scented candle you lit before you left. When you do return home, those cookies are there, waiting. No matter how you look at the word, it usually suggests a sense of well-being and calm. At least, this is the way I am suggesting for the purpose of this post.

Vacation was coming. I was about to have five days to spend with family in a familiar locale. At work, my mind drifted off into the past adventures that my family took to New Mexico before we finally moved there in the summer of 1993. Those were long road trips that my brother and I somehow managed to not be killed by my parents for being outright annoying. Although, we were left alone in the desert on a dirt road somewhere in between Thoreau and Farmington. As my brother and I began contemplating survival in the Bisti, my parents hit the brakes and let us back into that red S-10. When I think about it, my brother and I almost had the survival thing figured out and we had only been there for ten seconds at the most. We didn’t know at the time, but almost twenty five-years later, we would be in the same place with a different directive. Fish.

Christmas traditions have only changed slightly in the Goodrich household over the years. My mother still bugs me to take a shower before opening presents, my brother still giddy at the sight of a well-lit Christmas Tree, my father floating around plotting nefarious Christmas antics and somehow hiding the largest gifts. In fact, only a few things have changed. The tree isn’t real anymore and the stockings are no longer filled to the brim with matchbox cars and candy (which I am surprised that my mother has not replaced with bananas and apples). The biggest change has been the characters. People have come and gone (mostly women [mostly mine]), but one new addition is due to stick around. She is my brother’s soon to be wife. I’m not sure about the official status, but she calls me “brother-in-law”. While smiles were created from tearing paper and the joy of being around family, I told my brother that I wanted to take him fishing. Without skipping a beat, Evangeline said, “Yes!”

I have never stood in a river with my brother. Our time is usually spent throwing leeches at smallmouth in the summer or fishing from the banks of lakes in search of carp. He can fly fish, and he does, it just isn’t his preference. Since his fiance has been wanting him to teach her how to fly fish and all the lakes were beginning to freeze over, I finally had the upper hand. I saw excitement in their eyes as they commenced floating around the fly shop while I purchased some last minute items and waders for them. An excitement that would bleed into the next day.

We were hoping to arrive at the river early, a departure time of 6am was set. In all actuality, when my brother and I set plans they are loose. We both knew that we didn’t want to be up there in the cold for too terribly long and we both know New Mexico mornings. Outside the apartment, the car warmed up for a solid hour before we actually left on the long, boring stretch of road between Thoreau and Farmington. It began to snow as we told stories of past fishing trips and built up the day of fishing to come. Evangeline loves stories, and most of the trip was about telling them. Nate (brother) goading me the whole way. If there was ever a moment of silence, he would say, “Hey Dave, tell her about that one time…”

After getting some cigars for Evangeline, it was time to fish. My brother and I expected the worst. Sometimes the San Juan is cruel. Not that the fishing is ever really bad, but between the temperamental weather in the winter and the biting insects in the summer, it makes fishing a bit difficult. Today, the high was 29 with a slight wind. It was something my brother and I are used to, but today we had a first timer with us. There is nothing worse than getting skunked in the cold with 2 people so drawn to fishing that they will stop at nothing to continue fishing throughout the day. After rigging both of the up with the “Hail Mary” and teaching Evangeline to cast, it was only a matter of minutes before they were catching fish.

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The snow began to fall as well as the peace that comes with it. That muffled tone made everything more silent, more alive. The water seemed to thicken with the chill. Our lines sliced flakes as they soared through the air, we continued on despite the cold, driven by fish and a mysterious addiction. There is a new fly fisherman in the making now. It is a long, long road of fulfillment. One that, before she met my brother, she swore that she would never.

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After my vacation was over, I drove back to Colorado. I thought about that day on the river and the joy it brought. I thought about how the river makes me feel wanted and comfortable. Although my family has their home, that home is my home away from home. It may seem odd for me to say this, but a tree along a riverbank  makes a good place to hang your hat. The river is my home, no matter where it runs. The next day at work, I found  myself clicking my heels together chanting. “There’s no place like home.”

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Accidents and Happenstance

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Sometimes when alone, we ask questions we can not answer to things that have no voice. The reasons why the question is announced is often more mysterious than the answer to the question at hand. It becomes philosophy, and more importantly, these philosophical questions lead us to answers that seem more like ambiguous rhetoric. Even the previous statement clearly defines the enigmatic nature of these questions. As complex as the explanation may be, the question is usually a simple one. A, “How did that happen,” or “Why am I here” seems an easy enough question to answer. Upon further examination, any inflection made could change the meaning completely, and becomes the first step down a rabbit hole that continues for a lifetime.
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Sitting upon a boulder that would be submerged when man forced springtime on the river, unknown bugs were tied to a leader that wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. These bugs were born from a pile of feathers, copper, steel, and thread with an idea that they would mimic an insect. As they drifted through the gauntlet of multi-directional currents, thoughts drifted through the gauntlet of conflict and doubt in my mind. The world is no longer flat. We have, theoretically or otherwise, defined all that we see. We take this as pure knowledge, but not the existance of other possibilities. As humans we have closed our minds to the pathways that could lead us to new heights. What if we found anti-gravity before the wing or solar energy before coal? How would our world be today if we never split an atom? How did all of this happen? How did I come to be here fishing, seemingly for entertainment purposes that are a way of life? Even the act of fly fishing accidentally began somewhere and the possibilities of what it could have been are endless.
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We think that our actions are definitive. With the thought that there could be nothing more functional and utilitarian than the car or wheel, the wing and engine, coal and power, we are lost completely. Doomed to be repeating what has been done and perfecting an idea that may not be a perfect one. Fly fishing is efficient, using human energy to perform fluid mechanical function. Newtonian physics in the simplest form at all times only to be dropped into chaotic fluid and pressure dynamics. Utilizing the creativity of the human mind to replicate the action of an insect that clumsily survives through its ascent. Occam’s Razor at work. Yet, the variables are too great. To this day, something new is learned on the river each trip. Fly fishing carries a history of at least five hundred years and we still stumble upon new ideas each and every day.
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As my mystical fly was drifting through chaotic bliss, it was interrupted by a fish that had mistaken it for being real. As I fought the fish, I thought. Of all the bugs in this river, why this one? Did the fly happen to be drifting perfectly in the current? Was it the perfect color or action? Maybe it was an accident and happenstance. No matter the case, as a fly fishing community, we should look at the way we tie and the way fish see to ultimately determine why fish feed on the end of your line.
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Today, as I write, I have no idea as to the purpose of it, or why I choose to be sitting in this chair. I do know the events leading up to this simple action, but upon deeper inspection, every action in life lead me to this point. Even reading this, your whole life lead to this very moment. Every wrong turn and every delay in traffic brought you right here right now. The moments after are being shaped by the time it takes to read this. Call it fate or divine intervention. To me, even if the other two are involved, it seems like a heck of a lot of accidents and happenstance.
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Duality and Dichotomy

Many lump the two words together. Replacing one with the other and vice versa. To me they are two very different words. Dichotomy is the simple division of a whole in two. As much as one can divide by two there are still extraordinary complex ways to cut a pie in half, evenly. Whereas, duality is the bridging together of seemingly opposing ideas through one commonality. Humans are dualistic in nature. One life leads one direction and another in the other, but coexist in a strange harmony as one. When we divide something entirely from its original by half to become its own entity and live in harmony with its divided half… What have we created?

Que reality. Something that we see on a daily basis. Streets, cars, rivers, and fish are completely tangible objects. Real objects. It’s our way of life and everything in it, it’s that guy that greets you at the gas station, It’s the traffic you fight everyday. Even when it comes down to something out of the ordinary, it is still reality.

Our next performer on stage is art. There are many classifications of art and unless you want to pause here and read a million page book, I will focus on one simple term. Surreal. No matter the art, it is a portrayal of actual events. From music to architecture, there is something surreal about art. Even realism has, to some degree, surrealism. In some cases there are circumstances that cause events of reality to be surreal, dichotomy. These circumstances also require you to enjoy duality of your surreal reality, the high country.

This photo credit belongs to DiBiasio Photography and was a blast on the weekend trip. If you ever find yourself on an outing with the man, ask him about the “Dog about town”. You will never regret it. Joe is a remarkable photographer with a keen eye for his end product and a few of his prints are available for sale. If you see his union station photo and think it is neat, you should see the real print. Silly data, photos are for frames!


What Dreams Are Made Of

There is a particular section of the South Platte River in Colorado that they nicknamed “The Dream Stream”. Who are “they”? I couldn’t tell you, but I can tell you that they need a stern talking to. Granted, in this context, dream simply means a state of perfection. Boring. With that being said, my mind automatically races to the irrational. For example, a place where the tables are turned, and while underwater you fish into the atmosphere for hot air balloons with gargantuan insects leading the way like reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh. With this thought, I really had to see what I was missing out on.
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The grass broke away before me. A slow downhill slope created by millions of years of water flowing through a nearly level valley. No trees, rocks, or marmot here, just a long slow walk into the unknown. The path arrow straight, from fence following fly fishermen, and a damn fine fence to boot! Trust me, you’ll have time to appreciate it on the hike in. Did I say hike? I really meant walk. The long plains grass issued forth moths and no big terrestrials, just boring, normal grass. Looking forward, the trail pinpointed into nothing. Much like a long straight road in Arizona or Nevada, it seemed to get smaller and smaller until disappearing into some void of another dimension. Truth be told, it might be a tenth of a mile, but it feels longer when you are awaiting Dali’s “Persistance of Memory”. Keep analyzing the fence, it helps.
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Upon arrival, you won’t be awestruck by what you find. No melting clocks, no insects pulling hot air balloons, and you didn’t even forget your pants. Lucky you! Just a plain old boring river with gigantic trout. After catching a few fish, I wondered what exactly makes this place dreamy. I sat on the bank next to a quiet bend pool, quietly pondering the dreamy origin of the river. Slow water, no cover, tons of fisherman, big fish (plus), quiet, slow flowing, relaxing… quiet, trickling water… relaxing, quiet… My sitting turned to laying as I was lulled to sleep by the river. That was it! I had found the reason for the dream part of the stream! It gently sails you off to sleep, to dream of the place you thought you might visit. The river was so quiet that the splashing of fish was my alarm clock. I woke up to the sound. My eyes cracked open to a perfectly clear blue sky, with little black dots. I rubbed my eyes, blinked, still there. I tried to focus on one, but there were blankets of them drifting in the breeze. I sat up and Amy’s Ant splashed the surface and was gulped in the same moment. The fish waited for these bugs. Fish after fish for a good 20 minutes and the blankets of bugs were gone, so were the fish.
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This continued for the rest of the day in the same bend. Sleep, alarm, bugs, fish. Every single time, I looked at the sky for those bugs. If they weren’t there, I went back to sleep. When I woke up for the last time, I smiled a smile that you can’t wipe off. The sun was setting as I walked back to my car. I didn’t even notice the fence. It wasn’t the most beautiful scene, as would be a high country sunrise. It worked as my lone cowboy ride off into the sunset and away from a place that I might never return to.
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A Letter to My Enemy

I’ve seen your face before. It shows scars from your past well. Well enough that I can see them from across the river. Upon that upper lip, a black scar from years ago, showed an age beyond your own. Possibly a scar that signified a wayward treble hook that dangled behind a flashing treat. Adolescent and naiive, you took the bait, was mistreated, and now you bear the scar for life. A scar of the wise.

In my life I have come across thousands of your kind, thousands that only carry a handful of dispositions. There are the shakers that slosh the surface spitting water every which direction but never really go far. There are the runners that swim upstream at a breakneck pace, frustrating the fisherman with break-offs. Then there are the acrobats, who are tricky at times with their high flying antics, but easily manipulated to net. The stones, who find the deepest current and rest, which cause fisherman to second guess. The flailers, who like getting hooks wrapped around rocks and in weeds while vigorously trying to shake out the hook. With all these, there can be mixtures of sorts, and some more unique than others. Then there is you. In my years, I have never met a fish like you. You showed your power, your arrogance. You knew, and this is the third time we have met. I know that scar, and each time it feels like you want me to see it. Like you want me to know it is you.
I know where you reside, and with your size and stature, you can be dominant over your territory without an issue. You live on the fast side of 20 rock. A rock so-called because of your brutish friends that live in the current break. Not choosing that as your feeding ground, you took to the point side, the first to the conveyor belt of food that deposits behind 20 rock. Safe from fisherman. An impossible drift to achieve naturally. I found a way with a quick double mend and you have found my fly for the third time. I am a glutton for punishment.

The first time, you swam upstream with all of the power of your predecessor, the salmon. You raised your head across the shallows before you found a way to shake my fly. I saw the scar then, as I did today. The second time, I almost had you, ten feet away, you layed on your side in defeat as I pulled you in. I got a closer look at the scar before you shot down into the deep and off with my fly. It was that day I saw your size, an astonishing double digit weight and nearly 25 inches, even that may be an understatement. The third time, we knew each other, we knew our history.

The battle was not epic. It was not one that got my heart racing. I knew it was you when I set the hook. A firm set into a heavyweight, in an instant you maneuvered yourself downstream. Close enough to the surface that my line whistled as it split the air. Enough energy to confuse the novice and buy you time to dislodge the hook. I kept tension against you as you dove to the bottom. Your easiest way out, a place where you knew well that you could apply weight to tire me out. We sat for a minute in a stalemate while I put a near breaking tension upon you. You waited in your comfort zone. Out of nowhere, I felt you begin to rise, out of your own admission, out of free-will. I was confused. Your shape began to take form in the more shallow water, but you swam steadfast, without a stressor, as though my hook were not even there. Your fins cut the surface of the water and I was in awe. You lifted your massive head out of the water like a silent submarine. That eye, that deep, aged, sunken eye looked at me. Like you committed me to memory and marked me as your enemy. A conscious effort was put forth on your part, you knew who I was and wanted me to know. It was that moment of realization when you turned your head to dive back into the abyss, that you showed me again, the scar. Purposefully and dutifully extracting the hook from your disfigured jaw.

One of these days we will meet again.


Late to the Party

It was almost like we had a real plan. The damp highway a deep black, lit up by lonely headlights wandering along its winding route. The fog settled in. A welcoming veil, a daunting, yet epic reminder of the day to come. In the distance, tail lights raced to somewhere. Tail lights I have seen once before. I followed the white rabbit, knowing we had the same destination. The whole time, checking my pocket watch, seeing how late it had actually become. Hearing words from somewhere behind me, “he went that way”

Somehow we had all made it on time as not planned at all. Sanders was missing his coffee cup to fiddle with. Erin was silently preparing, waiting. I “cooked” breakfast. Before not too long, we were off. On a perpetual six mile journey to nowhere, somewhere dreams are born. Somewhere that the three of us had never been. Somewhere between the fine line of life and desolation. The brink.

Sanders had been preparing for the journey by stretching for a month prior to this hike. Erin, a seasoned vet of the high country pressed on like it was easy. I had done this before, maybe once or twice. On the way up, we spoke of life and the people in it, where we were and where we were going, what we were passing. It was another one of those references to life. The hike being the journey, the destination unknown. “Six more miles, right?” All of us knowing it was shorter. Like trying to set all of the clocks forward in your house for the sole purpose of being early to those nagging appointments. It never really works, now we have the all-knowing judge of time in our pockets, the cell phone. For us, this judge was the map. I am not one for map carrying, but Erin is. Sure, you really need one in places like New Mexico, where the path is used once a year by a lonely fisherman and wayward hikers. Here in Colorado, someone is almost everywhere at any given moment. Even with that being said, the map came in handy multiple times.

Erin, The Navigator and our own personal sacagawea, lead us through a shortcut. Sanders also knew about this, something he read in a book somewhere. I remained in the dark. I knew the long route very well and we were far from it. When I saw the view of the opposing side of the canyon, I knew where we were. We had saved a ton of time. Sanders said, “Six more miles to go”.

Sanders was equipped with his ghostbusters pack, two aluminum rod tubes tucked away on either side. Although it was a joke, it was a real life version of a trips fore shadowing. We arrived after our six mile expedition to the lake. Walking around it, we saw no sign of fish and there was a point where I had thought the worst. I looked to sanders and his pack, something was mentioned about ectoplasm. If ectoplasm was a sign that ghosts were here, this lake was thick with it. The ghosts floated in the plane below, unknown to me. Ghosts of a time when Greenback Trout were a mystery gene, confused and possibly mixed with Colorado Cutthroat. A mistake that may be known to humans in a few million years as a precursor to a newly evolved trout. image

Let it be known to the world that I fish with an indicator in the high country stillwater. It’s my way of fishing where the fish are feeding. Generally within that gap above a developing thermocline where the fish and insects can live with ease. Suddenly, after some time fishing a fish decided that my indicator was food. He was very wrong. It was this moment that i realized that there were fish here. My confidence returned.image

Erin was the first, somehow she always pulls it off. She mentioned a soft hackle. I had nothing of the sort in my box. I continued on with the “hatchback”. A cross somewhere between a caddis, bwo, and scud. It paid off. Sanders’ magic bug was a… Well, it was a big dry. We were catching fish. Our trip had paid off. image

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Erin wandered off downstream, Sanders and I followed. We fished to the most weary fish. No magic for me there, but I was still drawn to it. Further down, brookies for days in a clogged stream. Sanders fished below me, Erin above, somewhere in the middle I realized that after being alive for this long, maybe I was a bit late to the party for making friends. Even late in the game, good friends (as weird as they may be) bring out life in the worst times and force you to crack a smile when you need one the most. I stood there next to the creek, fishing to fish I had already caught, smiling.image

My phone doesn’t like linking, check out Sanders at “Up the Poudre” and Erin at “Mysteries Internal”, both amazing writers and great people.


Epiphany (Conquering Cheesman)

The day after a 12 mile hike and a 12 hour sleep, the mind has time to rest. A time to reset and rethink. Even more accurately, rethinking how to unthink. To process the past and look to the future. The unplanned, immovable, unpredictable, uncontrollable, unfathomable, resistant, persistent, beautifully chaotic, future. This day I learned, progressed…image

I hiked down the canyon in the rain, keeping light on my toes. Maybe it was the excitement of the challenge, maybe it was the new pants. I really couldn’t tell. There was a fire in my step, fueled by a need. This desire came from somewhere beyond, I needed this. After life had chewed me up, I needed the fish to do the same. image

When I finally arrived, the water showed its ugly head. Gin clear and spooky fish. I saw massive mayflies hatching and rises were few and far between. I cast to seams in riffles, knowing the feeding fish were hanging there. It’s normal this time of year. The first few casts came up with nothing. I had to sift through my boxes. And then…image

I enjoy tying by the river, it gives me a sense of solitude. Knowing what is going on at any given moment and playing to that tune while also playing in tune. I had developed a fly for the Frying Pan River that has now been adapted to Cheesman. You never know the consequences to actions. Predict as you will, but we never find out until the end. I layed there on the old picnic table contemplating the thought, watching clouds dissipate, listening to the sounds of the canyon.image

Something went right that day, something that changed me on the inside. I needed the challenge. In life, I need the challenge. Something my teachers always said as I was growing up, “we aren’t challenging him enough”. So, sometimes I create a challenge. Sometimes, I do something to make life more difficult only for the purpose to overcome. This aspect of my life, fishing, can never be conquered, never perfected. After almost 20 years, I’m still on the water, still fly fishing, still learning.image


On Being Invisible

The trick is to not be seen, to blend in so well that you become overlooked. No hiding, that wouldn’t do the trick. You can’t play the game that way. You play hide and seek on a busy New York street. You see so much of the same thing that one of the most critical things becomes invisible, even when you are searching for it. It’s that one time that you aren’t looking that you find utopia.

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I sit outside of this beaten down hotel thinking. My life remains packed away inside a tiny little car. I realize everything I own fits in it, the bulk of it tying materials and fishing equipment. I look to my future curiously, like a dog with a new squeaky toy. Head twisting left and right putting the intricate pieces of this puzzle together. A mind so clouded by the busy street that the thoughts of real concern become invisible, but it is a nagging thought. Get in the car. Turn the key. Go. Live.

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My head clear, my vision keen, my destination unknown. The true destination would only be marked by a clicking of the emergency break after rolling to a stop. Lo and behold, right there was that place. The invisible utopia. Marked by a glorious trail of trash from the sixties, pull tab beer cans. The mark of something that was, the mark of something forgotten, something invisible.

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Further down the road, my wandering heart lead me to a familiar place. I was wandering, yet drawn to it. Free will and fate intertwined and somehow, I was there, tying flies riverside perfecting something, a new design. I stared down the seams of the river and spotted a peculiar rise. Sideways, a turned head dove beneath the riffle, the Mark of a cutthroat. I knew CRCT’s resided here. But this fish like many others remained from a time before conservation. This fish was invisible. Until now. Until now I had not known that two pure, distinct strains of cutthroat could reside in the same water alongside rainbow trout. This was a treasure.

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It was in that moment, I realized something. I, like the fish, was invisible. Unknown, but known. Walking in plain sight, not looking to be found. An unknown treasure to something, something more than I may know, but until then, I will remain invisible.

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