Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wind, Water and Weariness......Day Three

The night before we stayed up until 2AM or so, tying flies, eating pasta and meat sauce, and drinking beer. We got up at 6AM and headed on up to the Missouri, a three hour drive, for what we hoped would be two days of drifting and catching its wild, strong rainbows and browns.

We put in at the Wolf Creek Bridge launch site and because the river was high and flowing fast, our take out would be Mid-Canyon Rec Area - a 13 mile float. It was about 11AM, and a good breeze was already blowing downriver. The day was hot with the bright sun making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Standard conditions more often than not on this big river. The high flows though were a first for me here, 11,500 CFS, about twice the highest I'd seen it on any prior trips here, and much higher than the ideal flow of 3,500 to 4,500 CFS. That's fishing.

We set off with high hopes and the will to make the most of the day. Here's the river early on in the float. It's big water under normal conditions, but on this day it was huge water. Bank to bank full and flowing strong and hard.

So, without getting into the boring details, we got our asses kicked by the wind and the water. We got blown all over the river - 40-50 mile an hour wind gusts. Our anchors didn't hold more than half the time so it was a long boat ride. We had two boats; one with myself, Steve and Don niether of whom had experience with a drift boat, and the other with Paul and Joe.

We got two fish, both browns on nymphs. I rowed my ass off all day just to keep the boat from getting capsized, but I can't say I didn't have fun. It was a beautiful day and we had some good banter going all day - politics, fly fishing, women, work, etc. - and lots of food and water. The scenery is always fascinating, too. I will tell you my body was toast when we pulled up to the take out 8 hours later. Its a hell of a workout rowing in heavy water and wind, and yanking the anchor rope everytime you have to bring it up. (If you're not familiar with a driftboat, they are set up so the rower also has full control of the anchor, so the others couldn't help.) No complaints by me though, I love a good workout, and any day on a river is a good day.

Here's a pic of a railroad tunnel through a mountain at the head of the canyon stretch.

It was a heck of a long day, but we ended it by going to a great steak place and chowing down and drinking some seriously good local micro brew. We spent the night at Phil Camera's lodge (the expert at tying with synthetic materials and the inventor of larva lace). The next day, the wind was blowing up to 60 miles per hour early on, so we bagged fishing the Missouri and headed down to the Madison River for day four.

Life is good. If one river isn't fishing well, find another.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Marriage, Day Two, and Other Randomness

Where do I start? It was a crazy week. Besides work, we finalized plans for the big day next month.

Huh? What? Although I love to post and write on this thing, I also like to keep some things mostly private, but I will tell you that Karen and I are getting married next month. It's a wonderful thing! Where? Here at the house - ceremony next to the pond, celebration here and anywhere there aren't trees on the property. Lots of family, friends, and folks coming. It's going to be a blast. Caterer is a royal pain in the ass, but he does a great job in the end. Can you say hyper-tension candidate? Anyway, that's all for that.

Have you been listening to the candidates lately? Actually, have you been looking into what they really stand for and what they want to do? I hope so. Do you still think Obama lama ding dong is going to make the sun shine for all Americans? Sure he's a bright, sharp dude that can talk the tarnish off the Titanic, but look behind the curtain so you know what to expect if he gets to the big house. And then there's J.S. McCain, the conservative liberal. Or is that the liberal conservative? Does anyone know? Does he know?

Yup, I'm still very undecided on these two wannabes. Let's see who each of them chooses for a Veep. That will give us a better clue. That, and when one of them realizes that the real powder keg of the world is Pakistan. Truthfully, I don't envy either of these guys having to clean up the mess "W" has made here at home and all around the great big blue ball in the sky.

Oh, and did you hear they are just realizing the Miss Universe pagent is rigged? Yup, they finally realized that all the winners have been from Earth.

I told you this would be randomness.........

Day two of Montana we went over to the Big Hole River. What a river, and it was a beautiful, sun-filled cloudless day. One of the most scenic in Montana in my opinion. We got there late morning and like most other Montana waterways, it was high and its usual tea color. Made for tough wading and fishing.

The only real bugs we saw were Yellow Sallies and a few PMDs. Joe and I worked our way up river from the access, and the other three worked down. I hit a nice long riffle that had a few fish rising in it that turned out to be 6-8" rainbows, all of which took a #14 Yellow Sallie dry. After an hour or so of fighting the current and no signs of larger fish working, we all met up back at the car and had lunch. After that, we headed downstream to another location, but found nothing rising and lots of water, so we bagged it.

We got to the lower Ruby River around 4 or so and split up. What a day from then on. On my first 5 casts, I hooked four browns and landed three of them. All on a brown dip. As I worked my way upstream, I fished the riffles with the dip, and then in the glides and pools I changed over to a PMD transitional dun dry. Over the next 4 hours I covered about two miles of river and caught upwards of thirty fish. All browns, the biggest about 19 inches. The day was hot, about 90, and the bright sun wiped me out. About 8:00PM, I climbed the hill from the river to the road and made the long trek back to where we parked the car. Joe was in one of the cars resting his eyes. The others were still on the river. I grabbed a beer and a water, sat down, and enjoyed a feast of libations and pistachio nuts until dark when the others came ambling down the road. Everyone had a decent day.

Here are the amblers..its 9:30 PM believe it or not!

And sunset on the Ruby.............

Oh, and I scored tickets today to see Ray LaMontagne in NYC this fall! His only show there. You never saw someone who couldn't type, type so fast on the ticketmaster site when they went on sale. By the time I got through, all the orchestra seats were gone......less than 5 minutes!

Life is good. It's even better when you listen to good music.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Our Fearless Leader

Heard a great one about W's philosphy toward our economy.........

He's like the guy that jumps off the 60th floor of a building, and when he gets to the 30th floor, he thinks: "Everything is going great so far."

More on the trip and other assorted stuff to come. Got to hit the sack, too much traveling for work.

Here's another pic from the trip.....

Life is good. Just don't let the idiots at the top get you down.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Upper Canyon Outfitters

They're not really outfitters so much as they are a ranch that caters to fly fishers, horse riders and familys. Its one heck of a place to stay at - nice cabins, good food, awesome scenery and very nice hosts. It's very out of the way, too. If you want solitude and the peace and comfort of the range, this is the place for you.

The river you see is the upper Ruby River. It was still quite high and turbid from the melting mountain snows so we didn't fish it as we had intended. We did fish the lower Ruby, which is the river after it leaves the Ruby Lake dam, and it fished very well. Lots of good sized browns and rainbows eager to take a dry off the water surface as long as it was presented with care and accuracy. I also took quite a few fish on Serendipity's - brown, and of the original style, not that spun, clipped deer hair style so many shops tie them like these days. I'll post a pic of the pattern I used in a day or so.

On the first full day there, we headed over to the Beaverhead River. It was flowing at a good level and clear and cold. Pale Morning Duns hatched from mid-day until dark, and the fish were on them. We caught a good number of browns throughout the day, some of them quite large. All on dry flies. The trick, or the tactic that gave the best presentation, was a PMD transition dun at the end of a 6X tippet off a long leader - 12 foot or more. Great fishing under clear blue skies, low humidity, and 85+ temps. You can't beat it for the first day in paradise.

Life is good. Find the right fly pattern, and its even better.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back From Big Sky Country

Arrived home safe and sound, unrested but happy and contented. We hit 6 rivers in a week of fishing - the Madison, Ruby, Missouri, Beaverhead, Big Hole and Henry's Fork rivers. Most were on the high side from the melting snow pack in the surrounding mountains, but clear and fishable. Well, mostly fishable, when the winds weren't blowing 40-50 miles an hour. Beautiful country, nice people and wildlife everywhere. I've been going out there for years and never have I seen it so lush and green as this time.

Speaking of lush and green, the first thing I did when I got home was go out into the raspberry patches around the house and pick the ripe fruit. Talk about fresh and sweet. Great stuff and we have enough to freeze a bunch and have it last for months!

So back to Montana. We went to bed late, like 1 or 2, and got up around 7 every day. Why? Because when you fish all day you don't eat dinner til 10 or so, then you tie flies, drink beer, and laugh for a few hours. Then when the sun comes through the windows, you wake up and get going so you don't miss any of the day's fishing or sights along the way. The fishing was good to great depending on the day and the river. Even when it was just good, it really was great given the scenery and the company.

Caught some seriously big fish on dries, and a few on nymphs, though I rarely fished subsurface this trip. Here's one of the big ones from the Madison River:

To give you an idea of the size of this guy, the reel seat and cork handle length is 13". It took a modified hair caddis dry about 5 inches off the bank. Fought like a beast. After taking this one quick pic, it was back in the water, a little wiser to the next guy that comes along and tries to entice it with a bit of feathers and fur on steel.

Got to run, more later or tomorrow.

Life is good. Get away once in a while to keep it that way.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Are We There Yet?

No, not yet, but the car leaves in 45 minutes!!

Montana, here we come. I'll try to report from the lodge if I can, but fishing, tying and enjoying the scenery comes first. If not, expect a full report, photos, and a good story or two next week.

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Laws of the Real World and Other Assorted Stuff

Laws - Selfishness is popular these days but the one who dies with the most toys is still dead. Diminish selfishness.

Fighting Frogs - The pond is full of frogs, seemingly passive, mind their own business frogs. The fish cetainly mind their own business, but the frogs I'm not so sure about. The other night we were lolly-gagging around the pond, taking pictures and enjoying the evening. All of a sudden we hear splashing and noise going on, and when we looked, two frogs were fighting! Like they were actually pissed off at each other! Biting, and lunging at each other until one got the other in a death grip with its jaws. We had the camera and took a few shots. Here's one.....

Rough stuff, them frogs. After a few minutes the one let go and they went about their way.....separately.

Washing machines - Everyone knows when you buy a new home, at least one major appliance has to have a melt down. Well, it was the washing machine in our case. So, after a little research and coaxing from my son, I went with the LG front-loading model. Sears delivered it yesterday, and this thing is awesome. Exciting stuff, huh? Let's hope the dryer last for a while.

Montana - There's 5 of us going. Rivers are full, but we're ready. Flies are being tied, gear is readied, and I don't care if I fish really. Just getting away after a hectic spring is enough for my soul..............can you imagine ME not fishing? Karen will miss me, I'll miss her, but in a few weeks we'll be married and we'll have the party of the century! One more thing to look forward to.

What else? Montana, is there anything else? Yeah, Italy, France, and of course, Scotchin' in the British Isles after the matrimonials.

Life is good. Buy a washing LG (Life's Good).