Tag: midges

Fish sighted New Year’s Day, but the air smelled not so faintly of skunk

It’s a tradition amongst the losers with no date for New Year’s Eve hardcore flyfishing set, starting off the year on the water. Venturing out on January 1st is the means to prove thy mettle, braving ice and snow and wind to hook otherwise lethargic fish with singular tiny flies and tippet of thickness more akin to a human hair.

As you well know, I love the delicate scenario. That bit I’ve sold about slapping fat pieces of meat on the water, invoking territorial responses with saltwater fighting butts and three-foot pieces of 20# Maxima leader? It is bunk! Who in their right mind would do such a thing, experience the sight of a fish’s dorsal fin breaking the surface in chase, thrashing at a fly that otherwise hangs over the palm of the hand, when you can drift #22 UV-winged emergers through water devoid of snag-prone vegetation and watch trout after trout move calmly over to it and…

REJECT IT EVERY @#$%ING TIME!

In the midst of a heck of a midge hatch to boot.

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Winter solace isn’t supposed to mean ‘cold, and sans fish’

Cold Rod

I spent roughly four hours today playing winter river commando. Ducking behind rocks and blending into tree shadows cast by a low sun. Slipping on ice, tucking hands into jacket, and repeatedly coming up short on casts when ice magically appeared on guides that moments before were clear as a summer day. You know the drill.

I expected there to be a few people out – we haven’t had a storm in what seems like weeks, and the temps were supposed to climb into the high 30’s. From the looks of the banks, the section I did icicle dancing on was well traveled. But I’d been there before when it was shoulder to shoulder, and was plenty fine with taking my fair share and moving on. Today, I not only didn’t get as much as a look, but the temperature was still lingering around 30f when I got back to the truck.

What did I throw today…Mysis, San Juans in red, pink, and purple, a tungsten-weighted golden stone, Black Beauties down to size 24, Discos in three colors (and in the same size range), Black and Red Jujubees (yep, tiny), and a few darker WD-40s that were so small I generally stuff two in each slot in my box. Zero, zip, nada for fish.

Frozen laces

By 2pm I had plenty of sun on my cheeks, and headed back to the truck for some grub. Thereafter three more vehicles pulled up, and out jump four humans apiece already donning waders. I decided I’d write the afternoon off (or what was left of it, since the glorious sun would be disappearing behind the mountaintops in another hour anyway). I broke down the gear and then reached for my bootlaces – they were still frozen stiff. So, I had to stand in the middle of the lot facing the sun for another ten minutes in order to thaw. I eat slow – high 30’s my ass.

Before I left I called a friend who’d being hunting out on the eastern plains, to see how they had done. He told me they’d bagged precisely nothing, and on account of the weather. Said it was too warm! Had we been forced to live off the land, the sign on the kitchen door would say ‘closed’ right about now.

Nevertheless, I’ve dodged cabin fever for another week or two – and frankly, I’m not really complaining about the cold as much as the lack of action – the latter just means I get to continue having nightmares (of popped tippets) and hallucinations (of angry browns attacking me with piranha-like frenzy) until the next try.

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.

you-are-not-taking-this-blanket

My owner is a sucker. And couches rule!