Tag Archives: Colorado Fly Fishing

The Burning Cold

Beyond the window sill, stained dark from condensed water, lies a world picturesque and seemingly frozen by the chill of the winter air. Perched atop a stool, aswoon for the thought of a pleasurably warm fishing day, I spun cord to steel. Although thoughts of thawing ice stood toe-to-toe with wetting a line on the coldest days, my thoughts were directed to the future. Looking back through my personal patterns, the future is where my sights are usually set. It is always the next change of season. No matter the time of year, if you ask, I will tell you the same thing. “Oh, I can’t wait for winter” or “The best fishing is in the fall” or “The summer season kicks ass!” Even though I am looking forward to the next season, I will tell you that spring is by far the most exciting and most difficult to anticipate. To quell my thoughts of spring, I figure now would be a great time to follow through with the thoughts I had during the fall, to fish the winter. My timing of weather patterns was off. Way off.

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Driving north out of New Mexico was as it usually is this time of year, cold and pretty miserable. The San Luis valley is by far the coldest area in the southwest, and close to the coldest in the lower 48. I know this valley well, for the past five years my journeys have skirted this valley and it has served as access to my favorite fishing destinations. I continued on, not thinking anything was out of place as the temperature varied about thirty degrees from hilltop to valley. The sun was out and that was good enough for me. Unbeknownst to me, a monster was working it’s way south that promised an icy temperature drop. Like fog, humans piled themselves into valleys and scurried about searching for gifts to present to loving families. I decided to pay a visit to some very good friends. The only gift I had to give was the gift of gab (aka “Shut me up before I overstay my welcome”). As I completed my final goodbye, I heard news of the coming storm. “Extremely cold with a little snow. Be safe out there.” I had to push south before the road conditions decided to get out of hand. My stomach growled as I passed through Colorado Springs and I figured it was time to find a rest area, eat some ramen noodles, and slip into sleep as snow began to accumulate on the highway.

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I was twenty miles from my destination and as short as it seems, twenty miles can quickly turn into an eternity with icy roads and fishing on the brain. In the morning, my eyes peeled open, they were out of focus and white covered everything. I thought the worst and as I slowly regained consciousness, I realized that my jeep had been idling for the past four hours. It was warm and the blurry white turned out to be only a couple of inches of snow. Alas! I could travel! The cold wasn’t an element for me to think about just yet. My mind was solely focused on fishing and driving. At least it looked warm enough. I pulled into my favorite little parking spot and sighed. “Finally.”

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I knew it was cold, after all, there was snow on the ground. Regardless, I stepped out to retrieve my waders from the back of the truck. It only took seconds before the cold seeped in through my jacket quickly enough for me to let out a “holy crap” and scurry back into the jeep. I sat there with my waders in the floorboards. With my hands on the steering wheel, I convinced myself it wasn’t that cold so long as I did not look at the thermometer on the dash. Curiosity killed the cat and it was 14. Fourteen! I have fished the Taylor in early February, the Pan in late December, the Blue in January, I know this game. By noon it would be 30 and everything would be fine. I’m fine with the cold, but here, it isn’t supposed to be this cold. I briskly hiked to my favorite spot and fog rolled off of the water, it was warm and loaded with actively feeding fish. Standing in the water to stay warm, my facial hair began to freeze with aid from my breath. The snow rolled in and as impossible as it sounds, it became colder than anticipated. It was time to eat something warm and warm myself in the process. The thermometer now read 15. It was noon. When my fingertips came to temperature, they started to itch, a sure sign of frostbite. I am rarely ever done until the day itself is. Returning back to the water, my thoughts drifted back into spring.

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Thinking about spring didn’t keep me warm. Inward, the coming year had a warming sensation. A warming of the heart. The future is always at hand. Like the cold, the fear is nearly crippling. As much as I would hate to admit it, the anticipation of spring scares me as much as publishing this. The fear of rejection in both cases makes it difficult to move forward, yet excitement of the anticipated end product pushes me to keep going. The burning sensation wasn’t just the cold air and frostbitten fingertips, it was the warming feeling of the coming future.

P.S. Here are some more pictures from the trip!

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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.

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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.

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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


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


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.


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!


Recollection

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Images of colors become flashes of hallucinogenic images. Images that began as a budding idea that pierced the veil of reality. A thought incidentally walked through the portal to become what we know now as a memory. Maybe it was real, maybe it was just a figment of your imagination. In our hearts we know it happened, but the insane also believe their memories are truth. It is a shame that memories are not tangible. Pictures might just be a white sheet of paper that our mind paints to be an image of the past, or maybe we just portray that to the outer world. Who really knows?

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There is a specific place that contains many of my memories. Ones that stand stagnant in a pool awaiting my arrival. Like old friends, crossing that threshold where the memory began, I smile. It is an acknowledgment of sorts, as well as a respectful admiration. Driving along the river, I slipped in and out of reality. Those hallucinogenic thoughts being revisited, if they ever really happened in the first place. The salad bag, the thin ice, the lost fish, the island, the slow day that Sanders broke the silence, the cutthroats, the shared beers and cigars, the carp, the stone, the massive hatch, the jerk, and my first Elevenmile Brown are just a few. The things that happened on this day were a culmination of all of those, small reminders of those big memories.

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Wading the river, the many thoughts found there way in. I spun a web as if it were through the act of casting, catching drifting memories as well as fish. This river, an old familiar friend, somehow spoke. We communicated through our silent connection, laying line out on the water as she moved it in directions she wanted it to go. A dance of mending, casting, and moving. I was alone on the river, we bonded. As we spoke, she told me of a memory to come. Throughout the day she showed me images of the present that became the inspiration to write of the past today, which is now gone. She holds them there now, within her canyon walls, always awaiting my return.

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