Arkansas River Weekend: The Post-Mortem

Brown In NetOur jaunt down to the Arkansas River last weekend wasn’t quite the annihilation I’d portended, unless you take into consideration that we only fished three hours on Sunday. No, we weren’t being lazy – we were just trying to rehydrate, so to speak, and catch up on lost sleep.

We begin by mugging other fly fishers for info

After driving down and settling in, we made plans to hit Wellsville first thing. Wellsville is this little stop just south of Salida, and while a fairly short stretch it’s known for some smooth deep runs that are usually stacked with sizable rainbows and browns. When we arrived there was only one other vehicle at the access point, and we found only one fisherman had occupied said auto. With most of the stretch to ourselves, trial and error began. My trials were with frequent movement and fly switching, while Corey and Jeff spent their time fishing anything I wasn’t (and probably a good strategy, since I was catching jack). A few hours into the game, I bum-rushed the stranger (who was getting his net wet), and intelligence gathering pointed to small mayflies. On what would turn out to be the roughly twelfth pattern of the morning for me, tan WD-40s hit the mark. My colleagues quickly raided my nymph box.

It was now breakfast time, which meant finding a greasy spoon (and not forgetting to pick up a case of beer for the evening). Having satisfied our omelet and black coffee fetishes, we moved on to a double super secret spot Corey had been blathering about since we’d left Denver the afternoon before.

Fly fishing often requires loose interpretation of “No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Shot On Sight” signs

thearkIn hindsight, the fact that one of our buddies actually owns the barbed wire fence that runs up to a gate we were definitely going through, armed to the teeth just in case slightly unsure about passing through probably gave us some rights, in some jurisdiction, someplace, to proceed. At least that was my justification, and since I was driving that probably put us over the 50% chance of not winding up in jail mark. In reality, the stretch of water we happened upon is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be heading down with unadulterated bribes bags of fine goodies for all the neighbors so they’ll keep the lips zipped just in case they spy us passing that way again.

Boy oh boy was the fishing good. There was all kinds of structure on this stretch, from huge boulders laying smack dab in the middle of the river to shallow cross current rifts running over ledges into much deeper fast water moving straight ahead. I lost count of the actual number of deep, quiet pools and picture perfect seam water we fished – we could have kept hiking deeper in for eternity without wanting for another hole worth trying.

Brown trout heart gold PsychosThe only bummer turned out to be the lack of dry fly action. There was about a half-hour period late in the day where some BWOs came off. And as I sat down to tie on a gray Parachute Adams a caddisfly landed on my leg. So I put one of each on, but alas the moment I started working some quiet water off a small island the hatch disappeared as abruptly as it had arrived. No matter – the fish were in love with our little Gold Psycho Prince Nymphs and Barr’s Emergers. As time grew near for Jeff to leave, he and Corey bounded by to grab the truck keys. An inquiry came in regarding performance, but before I could respond I’d hooked up again – it was the sixth fish in the span of an hour.

Me thinks my truck got a good undercarriage workout after that, because Corey was back fast enough to otherwise assume he possessed some type of transporter device. We marched further upstream, debating which pristine piece of new water to wet the lines in, and continued picking off trout until the other half of the Salida Party Patrol, Tim and Tom, arrived. Thereafter, we decided we would definitely fish this place again tomorrow, hit the Boathouse for some grub, and then headed back to the newly dubbed Van Dyke Fly Fishing Ranch for the night’s festivities.

I wish Tim wasn’t so good cheating at cards

cardplaySaturday night we filmed several scenes of the soon to be released feature film Drunken Yahoos in Somebody Else’s Vacation Home. Some fisherman tie flies in the evening – preparing for the following morning like it was to be their last on the water. We play a card game called Eliminator, and when you’re left with no tricks you have to down a double-shot of Jose Cuervo. We played like we were retired, and had unlimited back to back fishing days ahead of us. Nobody brought their 401k statements along to remind of how far off retirement now was either. This turned out quite bad.

tequilasucksIn the grand scheme, I wish I didn’t catch as many fish as I did. As the high man for the day, the other folks were out for blood. The fact that I’m a shitty card player had nothing to do with it – the gang was hell bent on knocking my cocky self off the fly fishing pedestal I’ve built with my own two hands. They strung me along for a few rounds, and just as I was getting the hang of the game, the rules changed and out came the tequila. And to add insult to injury, we didn’t have any shot glasses so we used pint-sized cups – that cheating bastard Tim did all the pouring. And Michael G. did plenty of grimacing.

By the time we got around to lighting up the cast iron stove, there was nobody in the bunch remotely capable of splitting a log with a dull hatchet. And yet low and behold logs got split, and the homestead warmed up. I’d like to say everyone dreamed of caddisfly hatches and sugar plum fairies, but I doubt anyone did anything except pass out stone cold.

Return to the scene of the crime

The Van Dyke Fly Fishing RanchAfter your crew has tossed a couple of empty beer cases on the porch and put what little’s left of a jug of tequila back in the pantry, you can safely assume you are not going to get up at the crack of dawn to go fishing. If the wind is howling when you do roll out of bed, and your body is thirsting for a gallon of spring water and a couple of bacon cheeseburgers, you can also assume that 1) you will use the wind as an excuse to raid the fridge for water and ground beef, and 2) you will not have either of the latter. The best hangover cure…go fishing. Better yet, half the crew decided to opt out for some four-wheeling, so Corey and I would have our little secret to ourselves.

See ya’ later, alligator

I’m tired of typing and you’re plenty bored, so the wrap up is we picked up where we left off the day before, and with the wind mysteriously disappearing the moment we reached the water. Much the same flies (although I did get a Mercury RS2 itch in the second hour that a 17″ brown happily scratched for me). Between the short drive, the hike in, and the actually feet wet time, we’d only burnt three hours and we had a dozen fish between us to show for it. Not bad for a couple of guys who at any moment might have decided to drink the water instead of fishing in it. All in, a fantastic weekend. Then there was the drive home…it sucked.

MG signing off (to search for the ultimate hangover cure)


Matt Dunn says:

Nice dude. Sounds like a really good time. I liked the light box feature in this post too.

Yeah how did you get that lightbox thingie going? Is that a .org thing?

@Matt – It was! And thanks on the lightbox bit…you were the inspiration, after all.

@Pete – It’s a WP plugin, kind of beta-ish, but seems to be working. I do think it is a self-hosted thing, but you may want to check with WP dot com – I think they do some custom install stuff for small fees. If you can’t find anything out, I’ll be glad to lend a brotha a hand.

Good job on ass kicking. Oh and BTW: f*ck tequila.

We need FGFF around for beverage selection for sure – or at minimum, muscle/protection from the card cheating thugs.

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