"there's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot." -steven wright

Thursday, August 10, 2006

secret creeks

well, it's been a long time since a post to this blog, which means that my fellow trout collective members are not pulling their weight, the lazy bastards. we may need to pull the plug on spinnerfall unless we can all agree to post a little more regularly.

so i've had a lot of fun through these dog days of summer (we're talking rottweiler days this year) fishing the small creeks that surround steamboat springs. they are just chock full of little brook trout (some not so little), that take a dry fly like it's going out of style. and this week i found a new stretch on one particular creek that actually has an occasional rainbow.

why are rainbows so much more likely to jump when they're hooked? i don't know, but damn are they fun. i can count the number of brown trout that have jumped for me on one hand. same goes for brook trout and cutts. but rainbows launch themselves seemingly with no thought of the consequences. the nicest rainbow i hooked on this little creek this week was probably 9 inches, and he almost catapulted himself onto the bank he was jumping so wildly. it was one of my most enjoyable fish of the summer.

so for the loyal spinnerfall readers out there (all 5 of you), i just want you to know that if this blog does die, i will still be posting about fishing on my other blog. and so will trout on his.

tight lines.

Monday, June 12, 2006

6 inches of fun

no, i'm not talking about that. get your mind out of the gutter.

what the 6 inches refers to is the size of trout that dad and i caught at the yampa river tailwater below stagecoach dam on friday. in a .6 mile stretch of river filled with big-ass rainbows primarily in the 18-24 inch range, dad and i managed to catch just one trout apiece, both about 6 inches long.

but we didn't get skunked, and that's something.

we fished yesterday also, and did manage to get skunked. we fished the bear river, which is one of the several streams that make up the headwaters of the yampa in the flat tops national wilderness area. the water was just slightly off color from runoff, but apparently it was muddy enough to render us totally ineffective. we tried everything, to no avail. but damn was it beautiful, and i packed two beers and a couple of camp chairs, and we sat in the middle of a gorgeous valley afterward drinking lukewarm beer and watching clouds float over lakes and mountains. wow.

as a matter of fact, this is where we were. i didn't take this pic, and it looks like it was taken later in the summer or early fall when things aren't so green. but man oh man, it was gorgeous.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

you can't see it very well, but the mysis shrimp these trout eat give them all a beautiful pink hue. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

god bless the green

hi all. this is a report from fishing the green river last weekend. pictures to come soon.

friday 05.12
-p and i arrive in vernal, utah at about 10:30 and stock up on groceries at the smith's. p's overwhelming desire for potted meat products rules the day, and we buy way too many cans of corned beef for camping.
-arrive in dutch john at about 11:30. meet up with bb and his stepson, get the drift boat loaded, and by 1:30 we're on the a-section of the green. this section of the river is astounding - a gin clear aquarium of 10,000 trout per mile, all 12-20 inches. unbelievable.
-i start the day with a 17 inch brown. 3 more browns before the day is out, and p catches his first flyrod trout (i think). watching that was more thrilling than actually catching them myself.
-the day ends with a yummy camp meal and bb and i trying our hardest to sing like dylan while bb played guitar.

saturday o5.13
-on a personal note, i discovered this morning that i'm actually able to sleep in a tent, something i've always struggled with in the past. the secret? earplugs.
-the day started with a fantastic egg scramble on my msr stove (a wedding gift).
-bb, his stepson and i dropped p off at the b-section put-in, and then shuttled the car and trailer down to the takeout. though the b-section is only a 9 mile float, it's about an 80 mile roundtrip shuttle for the cars.
-one fish apiece for bb and me this day, but mine was my biggest fish of the trip personally.
-the day ends with another fantastic camp meal of coors light, hot dogs, canned peas, baked beans and corned beef & hash. we ate like kings, and played cards afterward.

sunday 05.14
-bb and nicholas leave early, p and i fish around the upper a-section for a few hours. we each had fish on but lost them; we each watched trout take our flies 10 feet away from us, only to set the hook too early and blow it. i think this morning, though, solidified p's new love for this pursuit.
-left at about 1:30 and got home around 5. celebrated mother's day with my mom-in-law, called my own mom, got to see my sweetie-pie, grilled steaks and brats, had some beers, jamie and her friends were over. a great ending to a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beaver Lessons (Gene)

A few years ago I went fishing in a small stream near Keystone, Colorado. It was a bountiful little stream with a good population of fourteen to eighteen inch rainbows. I might add that they weren’t particularly smart rainbows because I caught a lot of them.

Besides the good fishing, the thing that made this stream interesting was the fact that there were beavers everywhere. During my week on the stream, I learned three lessons about sharing a river with beavers.

First, they can mess up a good fishing hole, usually at prime evening time. Several beavers lived under the cut bank of one of my favorite pools. It was not unusual to see two or three at a time swim into the pool from upstream, tail-splash when they saw me and then dive under the cut bank. The tail splash not only alarmed me but also frightened the trout, which would scurry away downstream and not return for a long time. Lesson one – beavers can be scary (especially the first time you see one).

Second, the dens the beavers build under a cut bank create conditions for sinkholes. I frequently fished from a bank above a large slow pool where I caught several good trout. After being hooked, these rainbows employed one of two escape strategies. They either ran hard downstream toward a beaver-felled tree that lay across the end of the pool or tried to dart under the cut bank, making it difficult for me to get the rod leverage needed to haul them out. One of the biggest trout I hooked was determined to get entangled in the tree at the end of the pool and break free. I knew this rainbow was strong enough to break my 6X tippet if I tried too hard to brake his run so I walked along the bank to get a better angle on him. My strategy seemed to be working against his strategy and, eyes focused on the trout, I took another step downstream. It was a big step. I mean a really big step. I fell into a sinkhole up to my chest. Miraculously, I landed on my feet and was uninjured. Even more miraculously, I held my rod high, brought the trout to the edge of the pool and, reaching out over the edge of the bank from my position in the sinkhole, brought him to net. All the while, I was hoping a beaver wouldn’t start gnawing on my leg. The scene was a little like Brad Pitt landing the huge trout in A River Runs through It. Well, not exactly. Lesson two - beaver holes can be dangerous.

Third, like many fishermen, I bite the ends off leaders when I tie on flies or tippets. It’s faster than using nippers to cut them off. On my trip to this stream, I learned a painful lesson - don’t do that! Some streams are infested with parasites that, if ingested, can play havoc with the digestive system. This disease, known medically as giardia, can last for several weeks and cause great misery unless properly treated. Lesson three – infected beavers can spread diseases.

Summary of lessons learned: beavers can be scary; beaver holes can be dangerous; and infected beavers can spread diseases.

Streams with significant beaver populations are likely to be infested with the giardia parasite. Beavers, which aren’t really particular about where they go to the bathroom, are frequently the cause of the infestation. Because of this, giardia is also known as beaver fever.

I learned that beaver fever not only affects the digestive system but can also affect one’s intelligence. On a recent fly fishing trip to the Verde River in Arizona I told this story to one of my best fly fishing buddies, who is now an elder in his church. Some of his stories lead me to believe that he might have been somewhat wild in his younger days. His immediate response when I mentioned beaver fever was, “May the good Lord forgive me for these memories, but I had a real bad case of beaver fever during my sophomore year in college.” So what’s the evidence that beaver fever affects intelligence? His GPA for his sophomore year was 1.297.

My friends and I are planning a fishing trip this spring to a small but productive stream in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. Its name? Wet Beaver Creek.

As Beavis would say to Butthead (or was it vice versa) “Heh, heh. He said wet beaver.”

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Gift from My Son (Gene)

In his recent posting (see elk and rainbows below), my son David mentioned that I had caught my biggest rainbow ever on our April 9 trip to the White River, but he didn’t discuss the circumstances. I’d like to share the story about how it happened.

After a long day of fishing during which I had caught one fish, a twelve inch rainbow, David and I returned to the first run we had fished. He had caught several fish in this run earlier in the day, so I waded into the river first and took the prime position, at his insistence. On my first cast, my Orvis four piece rod broke at the second and third joint. I was way too tired to take the fifteen minute walk to the car to get a replacement, so I started to wade out to the bank and watch David fish for the remaining hour or so before dark. He stopped me, took my broken Orvis, and handed me his St. Croix. I insisted that he continue fishing and he insisted that I fish while he went to the car for the replacement. I must admit that I didn’t protest much.

About three minutes after he left, I hooked a 22 inch rainbow on an olive wooly bugger that David had tied. His act of generosity had turned my day of fishing from mediocre to excellent.

In Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis, Howell Raines described his son as someone he’d love fishing with even if he weren’t his son. That applies double to my son David. I hope you get to fish with David or someone like him some day.

I recommend Howell Raines’ book to you if you love fly fishing, even if you’re not facing your midlife crisis.

P.S. – On Monday, I took my broken Orvis into Bucking Rainbow, an excellent fly fishing store (and an Orvis dealer) in Steamboat Springs. I laid the rod on the counter. The owner of the store took a quick glance and said, “You’re getting a new rod.” He filled in an Orvis form, called Orvis for an approval number, packaged the broken rod, and sent it in later that day. Fortunately, I had registered for the 25 year guarantee when I bought the rod. I will receive a brand new, technologically advanced rod to replace my eight-year-old rod.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

we both dove (david)

this is a poem i wrote last summer after an outrageously brief and violent thunderstorm.

we both dove

the sky turns the color
of a bruise
as "new slang" by the shins plays
underneath the wind coming in
through a cracked window

cottonwood seeds tumult
on wind currents below these windows
and the trees are bowed
and tired

the rain starts across the valley
over emerald mountain
in three minutes it is here
falling straight down
the wind is a memory
and the cottonwood puffs
have been pummeled into the wet
shiny grass

the water drips
from the curved metal roof
onto the concrete below
and becomes
a splattered chorus
a litany of watery invocations

i am finning in the river
i am safe in my slime
the water is my air
and i am far below
the malevolence above

i am in the current
then out of the current
and each drop hitting the surface
above me
for a moment is a connection
to that other earth
the one i dream of before the cars
and the concrete

a ragtag group of blackbirds makes its way
above and across town
i see them

i see them