Tag: green drakes

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)

Movie Review: Raising The Ghost (UPDATED)

movie-reel“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?

logo_raising_the_ghostRaising 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.


Fly Fishing Tip #219: Don’t let your dog plan your outing

After lingering around Orvis for an hour yesterday, I took the prevailing advice and decided to head for the Blue River – a little morning green drake action seemed the ticket. I thought scooting up there immediately, catching a late hatch and maybe a little streamer action, then catching some zzz’s under the single-wall, would have me set up for a solid Sunday adventure. Scheduling around the Gracie household usually involves the collie dog, but since he’s recently been sleeping his days away in air conditioned comfort while I toil away on mosquito-laden gold medal waters, I thought he should join and do all the planning as well. Or at least, in retrospect, that’s what happened.

Arrival and investigation

After packing for the overnight stay, which included securing dog food, dog biscuits, dog leashes, and a dog bed, we set off. We showed up at the desired location and took a quick walk to survey the scene. The dog spent his time sniffing, and I struck up a conversation with the first fisherman I saw (who just so happened to be hooking up as I approached). Red San Juans were the hot item according to this guy, so I side-barred with the pup. A tilt of the head during the ensuing communication was the nod I needed – red Juany followed by a greenish Copper John would start things off.

Underdressed for the party

Not five minutes had passed and I already had a dink in the net (and please note: “dink” means anything under a foot in Colorado speak). But, several fish had already rolled on the indicator, midges were dotting the water, and PMDs were fluttering around too. It was cloudy and cool out, so the dog had decided to stay in the truck – I was therefore safe from criticism regarding the relative chances of scoring surface feeders. So I switched to up-top – now throwing a size 16-ish PMD followed by a tiny Griffiths Gnat.

At first this combination seemed a good choice – less than ten minutes of laying it behind two rocks just upstream produced one pursuit and one hookup – I now had a decent rainbow in net. But it was time to walk up a bit, and it was precisely at that point which I remembered the dog telling me I didn’t need studded soles. See…the Blue has always been a wading nemesis for me, so I’d bought “some steel” for this very moment. But I’m also wary of “signs”, and a waggle of the tail always meant ordinary felt was fine – again, I’m superstitious. Damn dog! If I hadn’t listened to him, I’d would’ve been dancing up to those fine pockets ahead – instead I was now bumbling towards them.

Needless to say I didn’t make quick progress, but spent the next hour and a half pretending the part (and managed to land one more). The light was now in front of me, so I couldn’t see bottom. I felt like I was wading in beach sandals. And now, it seems, my legs were feeling soggy. What? Yep, my waders were leaking. And they were leaking a little last week too, but when I took them home, dried them out, and started studying the issue, the dog brought a squeaking stuffed toy into the office and begged to be played with. I ended up putting off the wader repair to satisfy this canine’s need for on-demand attention. What do I get in return? Soggy legs!

We can wet wade in the morning, so let’s sleep on it

Once back at the truck, I realize the only one who had food was the dog. Ironically, said furry passenger barely eats a thing when we’re out and the driver usually snarfs down at least two cheese dogs and a half-dozen donuts before we’ve left the city limits. This was a problem, so we cranked up and headed for the closest convenience store. Convenience is a relative term when it comes to Colorado open space, meaning the closest outlet for acquiring even stale snack food was a cool fifteen miles away. And we had to double back, so in reality we would now cover an additional thirty miles as a result of four-legged selfishness.

Gullet satisfied and stores for the morning secured, we went searching for a camping location. I drove through two maintained venues, only to find tents tripled up at each site. We then scooted back by the last fishing spot, but people were hootin’ and other dogs were howlin’. And no sooner did I leave that parking area then the already dark skies opened up – it started dumping. Now I’ve got nothing against rain, and have pitched plenty of tents in downpours. But dragging a sopping wet collie dog into the tent, and then trying to sleep soundly next to the mop, pushes the limits of even trout-driven fanaticism.

We drove home instead

So…for forty bucks in gas I touched three fish. I’d be happy with that count if they were all 20+ inch piglets, but nary a trout hit 16 inches so I’m calling Saturday a bust. I’ve got nobody to blame but the dog myself. Had he I filled the cooler, left a little earlier, secured a campsite before dusk, and tied on a PMD first, I might have had a decent story to tell. Flash visions of slurping fish gave way to unpreparedness…

And this (hopefully) memorable blog post.


My owner is a sucker. And couches rule!