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Michael Gracie

Very Average Naknek River Rainbow Trout

Could be considered trophies most anywhere else, but quite average as Naknek River, Alaska rainbow trout are concerned. The fact they are taken sight casting into smolt feeding frenzies puts them in a class all by themselves.

Piggy …

averagenaknekrainbow1

After piggy …

averagenaknekrainbow2

Busted with these …

naknekrainbowflies

MG signing off (a true believer in the power of smolt busts)

Something Thoreau wrote on March 20, 1858

“The fishes are going up the brooks as they open. They are dispersing themselves through the fields and woods, imparting new life into them. They are taking their places under the shelving banks and in the dark swamps. The water running down meets the fishes running up. They hear the latest news. Spring-aroused fishes are running up our veins too. Little fishes are seeking the sources of the brooks, seeking to disseminate their principles. Talk about a revival of religion! and business men’s prayer meetings! with which all the country goes mad now! What if it were as true and wholesome a revival as the little fishes feel which come out of the sluggish waters and run up the brooks toward their sources?”

As much as it still looks and feels like winter, spring, and the inevitable little fishes, are close at hand.

Some consider angling their revival, their prayer meeting, and go mad over it no matter the time of year. Others just especially look forward to the transition periods.

MG signing off (counting the days ’till the rainbows start running)

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…)

Being There: Sirloin and Salad Substitution Edition

Meter maids are not the issue

Let’s trade some access

A lizard scrambles across the tracks, ducking under the inside edge of a rail. He is short-tailed, a chubby little guy, huffing and puffing as though out of breath but clearly more alarmed by the gargantuan shadows now being cast over him. We will leave him to his grasshopper feast – there are plenty to go around.

But not a brewery for miles

Homebrew ingredients

Having right of access, or at least tacit authorization via thoroughfare barter, is but a stepping stone before the threshold leading into wonderland. Wild hops line the path, and the willows, now peppered in pollen, are taller than we remembered during previous visits. Bush-whacking is required to reach the water. The companions turn for home even earlier than expected, but leave an ominous declaration behind: “Make sure to bring back some dinner.” We’ve promised pan-seared trout, and are prepared to take two in suffice. A few hours into this charade we have but two-inches of fish to show for it.

“There are some really nice pools further upstream.”

(more…)

The Texan’s Show N’ Tell

Tosh Brown looks cold. The fish does not.

Click to enlarge

The Texan would be one Tosh Brown. His subject matter would be our recent trip to Alaska West. Contrary to my previous notice regarding photo availability, Tosh over-delivered.

Before you click through to his story, let me first set the record straight:

1) My friend is a fantastic story teller; if you ever get a chance to fish with him you will not be short on entertainment even if the bite is off.

2) He landed a king on the swing. Before I did. I ran out of Scotch whiskey. Before he did.

3) He’s jealous of my Starry flounder, so please ignore the second to last paragraph of his post.

4) He takes better pictures than I do. Duh.

Predatory rainbow trout

Click the image to head straight to the photo gallery

Lastly, I will be hard pressed to target rainbow trout anywhere else, from here on out. You get spoiled at Alaska West, fast.

MG signing off (thinking the Gators should put TCU, UT, SMU, and A&M on their schedule every year)

Fishes and fires

Crouched in the grass by the upper reaches of the South Fork of the Rio Grande, I glanced over my right shoulder at the smoke billowing miles away.

“If we start feeling serious heat on the backs of our necks we will have to high-tail it out of there,” I thought. “If it gets hairy, fast, we might even have to swim.” But the fire was distant, and my inclination was to catch that which is wild, not allow my imagination to run the uncivilized route.

The trouts were the spookiest I’d seen in a long, long while; staying low was a necessity. Combined with wind charging down the right ear, it seemed a most excellent problem to solve.

fish and fire

The skittish rainbow ate the fly, I snapped the pic, and the fish darted away. A simplistic scenario, and yet now morphing surreal as the very spot where the event took place could very well end up engulfed in flames.

In retrospect, I internally debate whether the fish I stalked that afternoon knew something ominous was headed their direction, hence their hyper-tentativeness. I’d like to think nature works that way, providing fair warning that can be interpreted by those in its realm. At minimum I hope those fish are intelligent, prepared, enlightened, conscious adversaries, or the angling puzzle is just not as challenging as I aspire it to be.

MG signing off (because life finds a way, that much is certain)

Lil’ Piggie

Already done with the frisky, and wanted a scud to chew on.

Photo by Nate O' Taylor

Photo by Nate O’ Taylor

Sadly, said aquatic crustacean was a hook in disguise.

Trip report to follow. Unless Nate beats me to it, which he probably will.

MG signing off (because he is just plain tired)

Who believes fishing stories? Not I.

Your fishing buddy says “Dude, every time I looked over you were hooked up.” Every time you looked over at him he was hooked up too.

At one stretch you bring five fish to hand that would make many anglers green with envy. You did it in five successive casts.

Several strangers linger within eye shot and you catch at least one pointing over at you. Soon they seem to just disappear.

You’re standing forty feet apart, hitting a lot of doubles. So often in fact that you can no longer be bothered with pulling out a second net.

Rainbow trout

Twin rainbows? Naw...just another double.

Fly-fishing isn’t supposed to be about numbers, but you tally up the weekend score between you two anyway. It’s in the triple digits.

MG signing off (because he still cannot believe it himself)

“Caprs and Troots”

From Will Rice’s Caprs and Troots collection, we give you the lovely and talented Kara Armano:

Kara Armano

Yet more proof the DSP – that’s Denver South Platte for those just joining – IS a real fishery.

MG signing off (as unlike Kara, I got skunked on this particular outing)

Check out this super cool Louis Cahill trout picture from my backyard

Master photographer Louis Cahill’s work is a regular fixture over at Deneki Outdoors, and with good reason. It just plain rocks. When Deneki Top Dog Andrew Bennett dished out this reminder of Cahill skill, however, I felt the need for a little one-upmanship.

See…Louis doesn’t just take pictures…

Louis Cahill

…he poses for them too.

Catching trout is the easy part.

MG signing off (having one-upped, although who I’m not quite sure)