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Michael Gracie

As a Reminder

What should have been a spring float with private water access turned into flash flood warnings and work:

work

  • 20+ year old coffee cup as a reminder that Bloomberg terminals are very expensive and the money goes to designers who’ve turned the related dot com into a circus brochure … Check.
  • Computing device displaying litany of code errors as a reminder that while one might pay attention in class that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to wind up pounding their head against the desk … Check.
  • A [gorgeous] Scott Wells Gyotaku print of a brown trout on the wall as a reminder that I could have been someplace else if not for the shitty weather … Double Check.

MG signing off (to brew another press full of coffee)

Fin-angler

Seeking assistance with data.table functions via the R help files, and instead [somehow] being reminded that brown trouts will soon be hitting the dance floor …

screenshotreminder

First read as fin angler. Then the double-take.

MG signing off (knowing the trouts will be fast; but probably none too friendly … like R)

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.

Hallowed Waters of Mystery, Intrigue, and Bad Oarsmanship

This.

  • Three #14 Parachute Adams, two #16 LaFontaine Sparkle Caddis Pupa, and one #14 Tan Elk Hair Caddis fooling two dozen brown trouts – about $5
  • Five hours of road time and the number of a reliable shuttle service now permanently ensconced in the Rolodex – roughly $120
  • Yours truly getting the boat wedged in a rock wall, culminating in no grand tragedy other than a horrified look on his face …

eddy

Priceless.

MG signing off (because you knew the punch line already)

Not a drop of whiskey was spilled during the production of this fishing report

Cap-Lures - The Future of Fly-Fishing

The Future of Fly-Fishing (click)

Winds in excess of 35 mph battered the motel room window – we woke having consumed barely an hour’s sleep each as a result. The weatherman declared the speed of the moving air would subside instantly after 9am. The optimistic one reminded the crew that the suffering would soon end. Swung weighted flies across from a slate wall barrier until 10:15, and while marching to open ground thereafter the breeze hit a solid fifty and stayed that way. Worse, it was now coming from all directions, simultaneously. Draw a circle? Lay down a “D”? Lob a poke? It didn’t matter – by lunch countless flies had hit the back of the head. The tally was one grab.

Moving upstream didn’t help matters – the banks were crowded under the same guise – and before the sun had even shown intentions of setting we were charging towards less stressful circumstances. Still wadered up from the ride, we picked up a meager supply of fish before dark, thoughts of pizza, booze, and bedding consuming us (and soon visa versa) thereafter. A dessert is discovered, bellies are filled, and whiskey (which is purchased in quantity because of county tax differentials) is taken down in moderation pending concoction of some arbitrage play. Still, couldn’t stop thinking about the potential efficacy of swinging Cap-Lures.

(more…)

Blast from the past: The Brown Trout – A Success Story

Brown TroutVia Sports Illustrated, April 30, 1956

Behind the brown trout is a history in the true American tradition, a story complete with its misunderstood hero, lots of conflict and a happy ending. The setting is an idyllic one of dark pools and sparkling riffs, but too often the background music of whispering streams and the liquid notes of the hermit thrush have been drowned out by the plain and fancy cussing of sportsmen, scientists and nature-lovers.

Interesting contrasts in history; many nowadays view the brown as the ultimate articulated streamer charging predator, but back in the fifties the fly of choice was a light Cahill.

Read the whole thing.

MG signing off (because brown trouts are always cool, no matter what you catch them on)

Don’t forget to mend. And check the flows before you leave.

The Chubby kissed the bank…

Photo by Adam Barbour

Photo by Adam Barbour

No rise, no foul; the delivery man was late on the mend. Never mind we showed up right after the flow was doubled, and the water heavily stained. The single time things were going as planned, the extremely pissed off brown trout proceeded to perform largemouth-esque backflips, and subsequently come unglued. Unexpectedly fun spectacle, while it lasted.

MG signing off (to come up with a few more excuses for not catching fish)

A fishing story for boys and girls

Here is a boy brown trout. During autumn, boy brown trout show their flashy colors to attract the ladies. Not their Platinum American Express Card or German sports car…just colors. And the brighter the better, because boy brown trout have lots of competition for their girlfriends. I know it’s hard to fathom, but if a boy brown trout gets a fly stuck in his mouth, he goes from being randy to being really pissed off. Even the teen-aged boy brown trout are easily distracted by this.

This boy brown trout got very angry today. As did all his buddies.

Then there’s the girl brown trout. No two are exactly alike, but she is generally charming and pretty and has a lot of charming and pretty friends. Except she’s not always nice when she’s looking for a boyfriend. In the autumn she puts on a show of her own, chasing away the ugly boys while waiting for her prince. Which invariably arrives. Interestingly, she also gets a little irritated when a fly happens upon her lip. Kind of like a bad hair day, only fun.

We aggravated this girl brown trout and all of her lovely friends today. Every last one of them.

MG signing off (so the fish can go back to being happy boys and girls)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course, with every fly-fishing story comes the bloopers reel, compliments of Nate O’ Taylor. Or maybe the outtakes are the reality, and the story above is just a fairy tale.

Surprise catch on the urban South Platte River brings new meaning to “brownlining”

Yesterday I took a run down to the South Platte River, just south of the Denver city limits. My good friend Jon Emert in tow, we were ostensibly seeking carp.

The South Platte River is considered a dirty place – people don’t expect to see fishermen there, particularly not fly-fishermen. Par for the course, we were repeatedly (and quite rudely) mocked by passing cyclists. Not just any cyclists, but seemingly die-hard professional racing types, at least according to appearance (denoted by their carbon fiber bikes, sponsor-laden jerseys, and Christmas dinner flab hanging over their ballet tights). If those loft-dwelling, latte-sipping, bluetooth-toting, faux-environmentalists only knew. Actually, some of us would rather they didn’t.

We spotted just two carp all afternoon. Yearlings, maybe ten inches each, scooting across the skinny water. Could the Water Quality Control Commission, who gracefully denied a petition to keep the cold water designation on this section of river, be right?

Unfortunately, there are now at least two [more] anglers that know for certain they’re absolutely wrong. The brown trout pictured here was caught January 10, 2010, on the urban section of the South Platte River, by Mr. Emert. Brown trout are unquestionably a cold water species. This particular brown trout was colorful, muscular, and completely un-scarred. Its fins were wholly intact, unlike the fish you occasionally see who have to fight hard for their meals. It seems clear to us that it had found a way to adapt to its surroundings (foul-mouthed cyclists notwithstanding), and with vigor.

The fish spent a minute or so in and out of the water, while we carefully removed the Rainey’s Carp Teaser it had engulfed deep and snapped a few photos. Not a drop of blood was shed, and upon release it shot back into the pool from whence it came like nothing had ever happened.

Maybe the DOW snuck in while we weren’t looking and stocked the river with a supply of five year old brown trout. But…I doubt it.

Cesspool worthy of nothing but warm-water scavengers? Blech.

If you’re into hotspotting, best drag your feet

Hotspotting

I’ve moved from fly fishing purgatory straight to heaven over the last few weeks. Reports have been posted, and it’s time for the roundup. Why now you ask? Colorado River tributaries have been smoking, and most of my regular cohorts have now had a shot at them. The spawn is over, hence it’s too late for you to do anything about it. It’s the way I’ve gotta roll if I’m to ensure an ongoing free supply Jack Link’s Teriyaki Beef Steak Nuggets.

I’ve fished the Williams Fork four times in the last three weeks. The crew caught plenty of big, healthy (and extremely pissed off) brown trout the first outing, and even more brown trout in need of anger management counseling just five days later. Every angler of noteworthiness netted at least a dozen trout, and a few extremely lucky bastards exceptionally skilled fly fishers had days in the mid-twenties to low-thirties. Flies of note included orange and yellow eggs (go figure), Rainbow Warriors, Juju Baetis, and Mercury Baetis.

Laziness, or photographic brilliance?  You make the call.On the last two occasions, rainbows ruled the roost. I suspect the majority of browns were winding up their sexcapades, and the bows were probably moving in to raid the hen house. I fished the stretch on a Saturday with the infamous Luke Bever, creator of Beve’s Better Buckskin and catcher of large carp on drowning grasshoppers. We each posted numbers in the mid-twenties, and Mr. Bever essentially napped on the bank for the last few hours of the day. The trouts’ affinity for eggs notwithstanding, we picked up a significant number of fine finned friends on baetis and caddis patterns. I returned on Sunday with master angler T. J. Marek and occasional carp wunderkind Trent Clifton. It was another outstanding day, although it was particularly good to one certain angler because they sucked up their pride and threw on a buckskin.

Just chunkThe last stop occurred this past Friday – the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir. Water management officials, oft considered the Magneto to Gracie’s X-Men, took it upon themselves to drop the flow from guaranteed death while wading level to somewhere between bring several first aid kits and don’t forget to pay your health insurance premiums on the gauge. A group of four charged downstream, along with a full parking lot of fours who arrived just a wee bit earlier. Fishing was tough, as expected. A mysterious individual, however, picked up ten or so on Graphic Caddis and Two-Tone Olive Humpbacks, and if that particular fly fisher hadn’t been so lazy with hook sets would probably have climbed close to twenty. This outlier had an excuse though – he who shall not be named (because people think he is a decent driver so they fill up his tank with glee) generally considers this section his spring season home water, and has fished it at these flows at least two dozen times in the past few years. And as you know by now, he’s prone to keeping his lips zipped until after the fact, although he did open up his fly box to all.

Alas, this past weekend was spent playing stuffed animal tug-of-war with the Collie dog toiling away at the keyboard, part catch-up on a project leaking slightly behind schedule (who’s fault…cough…cough) and part insidious delay tactic in providing fishing reports.

You’ve now got the goods. Go into hibernation, as they’ll be worth something twelve months hence.

MG signing off (to find another fishing spot he can clean out before Christmas and not tell you about until Easter)