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Michael Gracie

Bobberless Anniversary

strikeindicatorsNovember 10th came and went, and in the process of dousing trip plans due to sub-zero temperatures I realized I’d missed an anniversary of sorts. The date, one year past, was the last day I rigged an indicator.

I’d never touched one of those little plastic globes before arriving in the Higher State, but it would be hypocritical to suggest reaching some level of enlightenment prior to or as a result of tossing them aside. There was no swearing them off, cursing them proper, or any other such nonsense; we’ve had some very fine days together, now permanently deposited in the memory bank.

Further, there’ll be no waxing the merits of traditionalism, nor some banal pronouncement of environmental benefit. Truth be told, I just got bored watching a bobber drift by, indeed lost interest in the concept altogether.

MG signing off (to catch fewer fish I suppose, but to have less fun I do not)

Not So Secret Fly Floatant Formula

If you are keen to fish dry flies and are tired of constantly applying and reapplying goops and pastes to your flies only to watch them sink two casts later, there’s a little surprise in store. Claim to the idea dates back to the gold rush years, but with a few procedural mods it’s easy as pie to brew up utilizing generic ingredients at a generic price. With otherwise patentable results.

We’re talking fly floatant here, and assuming you don’t spill your supply every time you are on the water, the ingredients/instructions detailed below should make enough to last you (and several compadres) an entire season if not more.

flyfloatantformula

The formula and instructions after the jump …

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Book Review: Top of the Flood

topofthefloodWe were milling around the tarmac of Quinhagak airfield when Tosh Brown turned to me and said …

“With any luck I’ll be home for my birthday.”

“When is it?”

“Tomorrow.”

He’d already told me he was going to release a book around his birthday in 2014, but next year now took on entirely precise meaning. Having spent the past week zipping around on jetboats, freezing in chest deep tidewaters, and emptying fine Scotch bottles with the guy, I’d already heard enough stories to fill three volumes. Generated many a guffaw too, but I also assumed the book would be a rehash of what I’d already gotten a kick out of hearing first hand.

Never underestimate the adventures one can accumulate given fifty years, some college fraternity brothers, and a few kidney stones. It was all news to me, and I am glad I ignored the offer of a review copy and bought the book instead.

Part autobiography, part comic relief, Top of the Flood is a compendium of stories detailing Tosh’s fishing pursuits from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper up to sending his children off to college. While Tosh is best know for capturing moments from behind the lens – that is until someone breaks off a hefty chrome-bright king right at the net, exacerbating the need for another line out – he can most certainly spin a yarn too. The tales are good ole’ fashioned life on the water, from hopping golf course fences at dawn and dusk to the pairing that just wouldn’t shut up about all the permit they’d never caught. Nary a vignette included that someone immersed in the sport can’t relate to.

There are a plethora of lessons within worth absorbing as well. Less cookie-cutter, fly-fishing-esque methodical teach n’ preach – instead garnered by reading between the lines – the most important might be that fly-fishing is far from a solitary pursuit. You’ll get few angler v. fish blow-by-blows and cliché mishaps; Tosh does relate the myriad of conditions, both man-made and otherwise, to be encountered in worldly pursuit of fins with feathers, but there is steadfast emphasis on the prodigious array of two-legged characters the angler will inevitably run into.

Finally, if you’ve had your fill of salmonids, and now proclaim you are carving a niche chasing alternative species, Top of the Flood may actually serve useful. Because the future of fly-fishing isn’t some exotic Amazonian bass nor even the common carp … it’s big fat bullfrogs.

Just don’t set the hook too soon.

MG signing off (but not without first letting you know you can buy Top of the Flood here)

Is carp fishing the solution to the world’s problems?

We wandered rather aimlessly, debating the best course to cool Middle East conflict as well as the merits of transporting Ebola patients out of quarantine zones. But before viable conclusions were fully constructed, we happened upon the water from nowhere.

“Are those all carp plumes?”

“Seems so.”

A half dozen eats later yours truly was feeling pretty good about the direction this was headed. Had a leg up on the adversary, and muck on the boots to show for it.

carp muck

Caked on is viewed favorably

Packed it in, then took the low (additionally mucky) road over to my associate’s stake out. Less than five minutes later I watch a fat cyprinid move on a fly in an incomprehensibly obvious manner.

“That looked too easy.”

“Yea, I barely hit three-one-thousand and the fly was gone.”

fat carp

Who’s feeding you sister?

Our overarching quest incomplete, we decide to hold a post-outing beer summit. I guess because that’s what world leaders do, although they don’t seem to accomplish much either.

MG signing off (because the answer is no, but it was fun nonetheless)

Tiny

The Scott G2 772/4 and Abel TR Light combo weighs in at a scant 4.6 ounces. Tiny.

tinyrodandreel

The class of fish it’ll bag? Not so much.

tinyfishnotso

The outing was designated specifically for capturing photographs. But the party got started and then quickly morphed into a knock-down, drag-out bash – an all day session of coaxing very pissy brown trouts out from deeply undercut banks. And then keeping them there. With some caddis and baetis dries, 2-weight rods, and 6X tippets.

Then the police showed up skeeters ran us off. Which is the excuse we’ll use if anyone asks why we only got two photos.

MG signing off (happy I’m not a photographer, ’cause their gear bags are not so tiny)

Editor’s note: All photos [pause for chuckle] courtesy of Hoodlum Photography. Additional note: James Snyder (aka The Hoodlum) nabbed the above pictured fish; yours truly, however, doesn’t bite his nails, and is now considering getting into hand modeling.

Chance favors those who purposefully leave their split shot at home

Seventy-five degrees at 9:30 am, I watch dumbfounded as the pair from the truck next to ours gear up from head to toe. Giddyup-ed, extending though technicolor SPF head-dresses. This is small water by Colorado standards, knee deep crossings at best as it winds around porcupine-infested brush. They must be on a weight loss program. Nothing but t-shirts, tattered pants, and stinky socks here, because that is all we thought to pack.

It is not uncrowded, and we look entirely out of place for the apparent product catalog shoot. Little pink and white and yellow globes dot the water’s surface. We chart a course upstream, opting for boisterous raunch, voluminous degrading banter reserved only for long-term friendships. It serves the purpose: leering and head shakes signal we will have quite few turns ahead to ourselves.

A half-dollar-sized green insect with an upturned abdomen latches onto the left lens. Oh my goodness. I coax it onto my thumb while scrambling for the camera, but it is in a hurry. My compadre quickly aces his dropper; yours truly swore them off long ago. We proceed thereafter side-by-side, in unison, debating which line, seam, and fast riffle to target next. Working as a team, taking turns moving aquatic denizens on nearly every cast.

future trophy buck

Dinner served

Another group now within ear and eyeshot, flipping chenille worms, observes the highly organized chaos and immediately packs it up. What would would possess them to bobber fish I wonder, when drakes pepper the sky? Knowing the answer, yet a fleeting thought; we soon pull several fish from the run they were just camped out on.

Every fish in the river was looking up, yet nary a two-legged creature rose to the occasion. Except one motley crew that is, and inside of four hours we’ve had our fill. Back at base camp we prepare a meal fit for kings, while watching, through the kitchen window, as a trophy buck in-training beats us to dinner.

MG signing off (without offering a clue as to where this unlikely hatch occurred, and feeling not one iota of guilt for it either)

Supplemental wading traction

The kicks arrived and the contemplation began. How to make them just a bit stickier, but without raising the primary traction clear off the pavement. On flat rocks they’d perform like ice skates otherwise. Then it dawned that there’s a hardware store right around the corner.

cheap cleats

Ratchet not included

The fact is, softer is actually better. It bites, or rather, gets bitten. And regardless of how tough the Rockwell Brothers say it is, it WILL require replacement after a few outings. Ninety-eight cents a foot sealed the deal.

MG signing off (because marketing effectiveness and the gullibility of the target are perfectly correlated)

Toothy Critters

They will steal your bonefish flies.

baby barracuda

Not to say it isn’t fun though.

needlefish

Just bring lots of spares. And maybe some pliers too.

MG signing off (temporarily distracted by the thieving buggers)

Things Fly Fishing Reminds You To Buy: Cutlery Edition

Fresh habanero peppers sat idly in the dish, no place for such a precious commodity. They belonged in the shark ceviche tacos about to be consumed. Sliced thin, only someone forgot their knife.

“Use this.”

“Ah … I used to have one kinda like this. Flat ground blade though – I think the serrated edges are too difficult to sharpen correctly.”

“Not a problem. Just drop it off at the factory and they’ll make it like new.”

A “hmm” spawned by a trip dinner discussion led to some shopping …

Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Spyderco Paramilitary 2

Simple, and yet refined without being flashy. Not irreplaceable, although they are toilsome to come by right now. Crafted by a Colorado company with US-made steel.

I was particularly intrigued by the fact that the owner of Spyderco is known for popping into the company’s web forums to answer questions about the products, and that he and his son take co-credit for the Paramilitary 2’s design by etching their initials into every blade. Those who buy into Freudian pop psychology would call that anal retentiveness; I declare it shrewd marketing and astute attention to detail, hence worthy of my wallet.

Now a permanent resident of the fishing pack. If not a pants pocket.

MG signing off (because keeping up with the Joneses is lame, but being ill-equipped to cut hot peppers is much more so)

Follow #beaverbash2014

Keeping it simple …

Beaver Island

Click Here To Proceed

Only 66.7% of the story left, but you can play catch up.

MG signing off (expecting the plot to thicken)