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.
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.
What the Shuck is a gathering of Simms and Idylwilde dealers from across Colorado and surrounding environs. Michael “Walk The Chubby” White (a.k.a. Whitey) puts this event on each year, ostensibly for the purpose of introducing new products to the dealers, sharing business ideas, and fishing the Rio Grande watershed. Taking place in Creede, CO, it’s Whitey’s way of saying thanks to the folks that support his business, acting as a manufacturer’s representative for the previously named brands, as well as having a good time. Which Mr. White knows how to do in a very serious fashion. Very serious.
I just came back from this conference of movers and shakers of the fly-fishing world. Upon invite, I was told I was doing a diddy on web presence, i.e. how to cultivate massive supplies of schwag make friends and influence people, using internet tools. I accepted the challenge not for the enterprise, but for the fishing, which by the way was damn good. We spent several days kissing the grass with fat dry flies, and my casting arm is still feeling the burn. Along with my stomach (from all the beer and brats).
I even got a sweet hero shot…
Photo: Rick Mikesell
MG signing off (because why take pictures of fish when you can scrape the evidence off your bumper instead)
To make a long story short, I’ve been on a dry fly binge. As a result, I’ve been catching a lot of small fish, and this last weekend was no different. Armed with a noodle in weight forward four I tagged a lot of fish, but I’d be hard pressed to say anything broke the 12-inch mark. I’m plenty satisfied, but the news has caused significant consternation amongst others and I’m losing friends (who regularly peg beads and throw barrel-eyed bunny strip).
I’ve even been told to cut the crap…
Trout geeks like to say that, “it’s not fishing unless you’re losing flies.”
But in the capr realm, “it’s not fishing unless you’re breaking rods.”
Now quit harassing those ghey ‘lil trout, dump those silly #20 comparaduns, put “Master of Puppets” on 11 and git out there and break some shit…
I leave it to the outsiders’ imagination who “B” is, but let’s just say he always wins. The rest of you probably have a clue already.
While discussing the prior weekend’s events I noted that I now find multiple fly rigs somewhat inefficient, particularly when casting to trout on the inspect and reject curriculum, and that I was swearing them off for a while. One participant in the talk replied that it was a worthy experiment I was about to embark on, then mumbled something about a psychiatrist friend “I just had to meet”. I only got halfway through describing my thoughts to another when they simply hung up.
I decide to go chase some golden bonefishstinkwater redfishsewer trout this afternoon because carp are about to intrude on my sentient being like out-of-town fly-fishing guides intrude on my sofa. I have to dust off the six-weight despite all the delicate, small stream juju I’ve built up. Jim “Masked Avenger” Kanda and I saw a lot of action, and wound up pleased with ourselves despite the fact we didn’t bring any slimy critters to hand.
Then I drop by the post office and find a care package has been delivered from Sacramento, CA, land of busted budgets and fancy fly-tying scissors. I was immediately jazzed about Keith Barton‘s latest invention, but it was the dubbing that really got to me.
It takes a true nutcase to get wound up about dubbing, but not only did this particular material look oh so fine, one of the colors was olive! For what odd reason I didn’t have any olive only Einstein and the Dalai Lama could figure, but just the other day I went digging for some and couldn’t find any.
I was told point blank that some dubbing expert from Minnesota might be quite jealous of this product, and it just so happens that same expert will soon be taking advantage of my extraordinarily comfortable and quite fairly priced sofa. This expert just so happens to favor carp fishing too. Even the newbies worship this guy, and I suspect I can trade some of the body material for smothered burritos and a few cold ones.
I now scratch my head.
Should I continue trout fishing with light lines and single dries, or would tossing some streamers with a 200 grain line curry favor with the old crowd? Would that add to the positive rays obviously cast upon me? What would happen if I devoted the rest of my life to catching carp instead? Maybe just with dry flies? I wonder if excursions for largemouths count as brownlining.
I could give up fly-fishing, sell all my worldly possessions, made up primarily of some well used rods and reels, a few hundred thousand flies, and a [conspicuously] unevenly groomed collie dog, then join a monastery…
…or maybe I should just start charging for the sofa time, payable in Macallan Fine & Rare. That’s good karma, isn’t it?
MG signing off (to contemplate that which is incomprehensible, or just plain confusing)
There is a time for dredging flies – a healthy supply of free-living caddis and stonefly nymphs lingering around is one of them. Big chunks of lead are required; bobbers indicators are optional, and recommended. At dawn and dusk (and noon) slinging raw meat is ok too – flies with names like Zoo Cougar, Stacked Blonde, and Sex Dungeon add to the fantasy. But when the bugs are so thick you wish you had a tanker truck of DEET sitting in the lot just to spare the aggravation, the previously mentioned fly fishing methodologies should be filed under “last resort.”
Tis’ summer, and summer means insects. Ripe, juicy, egg dropping, hatching, flying creatures. Bugs so thick you are blinded by desire. In this case foreplay is packaged in a well-greased eleven foot leader. Ready for surface action.
To watch a trout sip your dry fly is to understand perfection. Sheer like Hustler Magazine apparel for tippet, a Dwight Howard driving from the free throw line single-handed dunk for a cast, and a drift so drag free that Lockheed is using it to model the next stealth fighter. Wrapped into one, ready and raring to rip a lip upon serving.
Last weekend’s adventure was comprised of checking the weather, noticing expected highs near 80F, and then scratching our head from the parking lot as carload after carload of anglers donned waders, vests, full-on packs, and marched the 200 yards to the stream to sweat their ever-living butts off. We on the other hand traveled Tibetan monk style, with a handful of PMDs and a few Barr’s Emergers similarly colored, to lay a Letterman-esque embarrassment upon anyone and everyone who dared stake out water within an eyeshot of us.
Somewhere along the way someone noted that it’s all about being there. To which I declare hogwash. Fly fishing is about catching fish, and doing so means being prepared. If group after group of anglers step into holes, get skunked, and we follow up by charging into those same spots and clearing a dozen or more fish out of the place in the next hour (while they watch in dismay from the sidelines), so be it.
Doing so with dry flies is just icing on the cake. See you at the bar, masters of the obvious. [Note: obvious means a plethora of fish, visible from the bank, in a certain hole on the stretch; not so obvious to the tourists crowding the hole is that said trout have seen every pattern in every fly box from here to Timbuktu.]
Commiseration, camaraderie, companionship? How’s about a couple of thirty fish days using rods labeled “noodle” in black Sharpie across their tubes? Taking an hour thirty for lunch, and quitting at three. Or just leaving Sunday at noon, passing dozens of geared-up muthas fiddling with their fly boxes. As you head to the lot…with a shit-eating grin on your face.
If I need another friend I’ll pick my dog up from the sitter’s. Heck…I don’t even expect to make friends with the trout, and as the PMDs and midges were blanketing the water so thick we considered trying to walk across their backs to the other side of the river, the fish weren’t exactly inviting us over for tea either. It was undeniable dry fly mayhem.
The world is a constant balancing act – yin and yang, right and wrong. The fishing was out-of-this-world, and many trout now have sore mouths. Two nights in a row the Colorado State Parks service booted camping spot reservations to accommodate us, and some anonymous folks might opine that a certain sheriff’s office needs to get their officers brushed up on a obscure law of our land entitled the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Trout feasted on a seemingly never-ending meal, fit for kings…
And the anglers responded, likewise aristocratically…
We forgot, however, that the fish don’t have to share space in a barely two-person single wall tent.
We pulled out of town around 7am, not forgetting to make the standard-issue pit stop for breakfast, and at none other than 7-11. If you’re hung over like some folks were in my river taxi, that means doubling up on the saus-egg-chez biscuits, a twisty doughnut for dessert, and washing it all down with Red Bull. Everything available at 7-11 is the antithesis of everything available at the farmers’ market, but the farmer’s market didn’t open for another half hour. The product serves its intended purpose, especially if you consumed too many hydroxyl groups (a.k.a. gin ‘n tonics) the night before.
I appreciate Toyota engineering during times like these. The fresh air vents work especially well for acclimatizing one’s self to the cool and thinning air as you cross the Divide. Yea, that’s what the vents are for, acclimatization. An hour and a half worth of acclimatization. The driver stares up the road, left hand persistently drawn to the side window button. Will cracking it at 80mph offend? He prays for a hatch. Any hatch will do.
The skies are bluer than this blog’s header. As the boots go on I notice it’s cooler than normal, a reminder that wet wading decisions should be made at the tailgate instead of the utility room. I rig up quickly, but not quick enough. The competition shows up donning late autumn apparel, sees us, and sprints down to the river with four pieces of graphite in hand, six feet of line dragging behind them in the dirt.
The water has dropped roughly 40% in the last two weeks – the fish will be acting like they’ve taken in a lifetime’s supply of Clive Barker novels. Eleven feet of flourocarbon later that problem is solved. Sun still low, it’s spotters’ heaven. Unmistakable flashes stand out against a rocky bottom devoid of moss. Whether it be full on floating bugs, emergers just beneath the film, or seven pieces of #4 split shot dragging the faux meals, these fish have no chance.
Later on we change scenes, and the action slows considerably. With light now coming from high above, I direct my offerings into the deepest channels, dragging fat stone flies across boulder strewn bottoms. Production resembled chipset engineering, methodical and prone to waste. Three snagged flies later we call it done deal.
On the walk out my buddy asked “So how many did you get for the day?” I replied “I don’t know, maybe XX.” “Oh shit.” He knew that figure floated around my average, and said no more. Frankly, I’d completely lost count after number XX, subconsciously placing total nettings for the day down the list of priorities.
I’d wanted to be there. Just be there.
It’s Sunday afternoon. I-70 is standing room only. 7-11 is out of the question.
Saturday we happened upon a small creek. It didn’t look like much from the road, and while bush bashing down to it we realized the terrain was more rugged than it looked from afar too. There were large animal tracks everywhere, adding the additional element of spooky danger to the venture. Down by the water, we assumed there was a few hours of small fish opportunities ahead of us. Little did we know we’d be spending an entire day chasing broad-shouldered browns with 6X tippets and dry flies dressed like clowns.
On the way home I pondered how this tiny water could hold such fish. The place in question is not on any credible maps, and no mention of it exists anywhere on the interwebs. Perusing satellite imagery, I noted legal access was sparse – this mysterious water is bordered by and/or running through private property on some sections, and by or through even more adventurous terrain on others. Safe, secure parking exists nowhere. And then there’s the moose.
We actually ran into one of those crazy beasts during the backtrack. It was one of my colleagues that first bumped into it, and as he let out a few yells the monstrosity went charging through the brush and right towards lucky me. I heard it coming just seconds before making eye contact – a big bull if there ever was one, across the water from me and no more than fifty feet away.
I made like Usain Bolt, horizontally to its position and mine, and in the opposite direction of its projected movement. My sprint, directly through the creek, was later described as walking on water – moving so fast my feet looked like they weren’t touching the stream bed below. I was never renown for my forty-yard dash times while playing organized sports, but yesterday I found myself extraordinarily fleet of foot. Photographic evidence of the encounter further proves my lightning speed – I was nowhere in sight while the third man in our crew was snapping pics of the fun with the fine furry friend from the safety of the ridge above.
To my knowledge there are at least five human beings on Planet Earth that can identify this mysterious creek, but there is only one person who can run fast enough to fish it again, and next time I’ll be wearing track shoes.
“The charm of fishing is that it’s the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable. A perpetual series of occasions for hope.” – Sir John Buchan
As independent film production has followed the promotional opportunities afforded on the internet, we’ve seen a plethora of films produced in the genre of fly fishing sport. Some are stories of the lives of anglers across the world, while others cover select anglers chasing fish with fly rods throughout the same. And we all know that environmental films abound.
What’s the deal?
Raising The Ghost, the first film from Bozeman, Montana’s Fly Boys, can be summed up as follows:
If you are addicted to fish porn – adrenaline pumping fights with huge, angry fish on the end of thick, heavy line – you should check your local Blockbuster for the Jaws series.
If you spend your weekends at Greenpeace rallies, listening to conservation luminaries discuss the devastation industrialization, logging and dams have reeked on wild habitats, subscribe to the National Geographic and/or Discovery Channel on cable.
But, if you want all of the above, succinctly weaved into a story of hardcore anglers on a nearly impossible quest in the middle of nowhere, then go ahead and pick up Fly Boys’ Raising The Ghost.
Josh Brandner, Paul Tarantino and the rest of the RTG crew are chasing elusive, wild steelhead in the upper Skeena drainage, and the goal is to catch them rising to dries. Like any fishing trip, theirs is not without it’s trials – the gang is airlifted into the wilderness, only to wind up rafting/hiking miles outside of the original plan when days of fishing come up blank. They [believably] resort to traditional methods when the drakes don’t produce, seeking out new pools. And then finally, there’s a riser.
I’d like to say the highlight of the film was Mr. Tarantino’s 20+ pound catch, but I actually enjoyed the outtakes with the guides and conservationists and the quick tent chats with the gang just as much – the former was serious and enlightening, while the latter helped me understand the crew’s enthusiasm for fishing (and storytelling). I wound up feeling the entire cast was genuine, meaning they screw up while on the river just like the rest of us (but aren’t afraid to show it) – and that everyone involved with the film both loved to fish and cared deeply about what they were catching.
I’ve been steelheading once, a dozen-plus years ago. It was so damn cold my legs felt like stubs from the knee down, and I caught nothing. The experience hardly qualifies me as even a neophyte steelheader. But it is precisely 1,817 miles from Denver, CO to Smithers, BC., a trip that would take a couple of days at minimum. Scary I even thought of looking that up, but unsurprising once you’ve watched this movie.
As for the DVD itself, it was professionally produced and is well organized. In addition to the movie, which can be easily accessed via chapter, the DVD also includes bonus section interviews with both the film’s anglers as well as some steelhead/conservation legends. I’d previously viewed the trailer, but frankly it doesn’t do this fine piece of work justice.
I’m giving this movie a 9.5 out of 10, with a half point deduction because having watched it is going to wind up costing me dearly – in spey rods and Skagit lines, as well as thousands of dollars in gas and beer trying to pull this trip off myself someday.
Time for free stuff
Josh Brandner pinged me around a month ago, asking if I’d like to take a look at the film – I obliged, but with no guarantees. I figured that if it sucked, I’d simply send it back to him and make no mention of it (I see no reason to trash people’s artistic endeavors, particularly if they’re related to fly fishing). But if it was good I’d do a review, and give the movie away thereafter. The latter is what’s happening.
This time I’m going to do things a little different, since I’ve been told those little quizzes I’ve put together are a pain in the ass. Rather, post a link in the comments (or email me) with your finest trout or steelhead catch – big and/or beautiful are game. The rules are simple – you must have caught the salmonid with a flyrod (having the rod in the picture will obviously help in the judging), and I need your explicit permission to re-post the picture here (meaning it must be you in the picture too). If you’ve got a good story to go along with the pic, hand it over if you like. Two weeks from today, I’ll post all the pictures I receive along with some voting thingamabob, and leave the rest up to the readers. Voting will stay open for seven days. Highest number of votes gets a free video.
UPDATE: Two weeks past, and there were no takers. So the freebie has been set free.