Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I was watching one of the Sunday morning news programs and at the end of a 30-minute segment on the problems the American auto industry is having, the station was panning out from the panel of speakers and a car logo appeared on the screen - a voice-over says, "The preceeding has been brought to you by Toyota."
Couldn't they find another sponsor besides a foreign car maker?
Money talks, and it's multi-lingual............and lacking a frontal lobe apparently.
I have some other stuff on my mind, but that will have to wait until later.........
Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Then my wife had a dinner party here for me. Of course, I made the dinner - spaghetti and meatballs!! Nothing like cooking after working your butt off out in the cold. Actually, I love to cook and Karen just finished her clinical rotation in psyche at the hospital and spent most of the weekend studying for the final. She's only got one more clinical rotation in the spring then she's done! It's all good.
Then we went down to the Inn and met a bunch of friends and the celebration really began. My 80 year old mother came for a bit and provided some of the comedic excitment. Got home late, but sober, and went to bed. Had a blast. Like I said, just like any other day.
Life is good. Age is a state of mind.....................tell my body that.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Now for your reading pleasure: I have heard back from Chris DelPlato about his Black-nosed Dace imitation and he has been kind enough to send me a couple of photos to share with you.
About 40 years ago or more, fly tyer/innovator and author, Art Flick, developed a bucktail streamer fly to imitate the dace. This pattern was effective from the start and today it still occupies space in just about every fly fishers arsenal of patterns. Here is a photo of the original fly in all its glory - a simple tie using dyed bucktail for the wing:
Here's the natural Black-nosed Dace.
Then along comes master streamer tyer, Chris DelPlato, and he comes up with this beautiful imitation shown below. Look at the natural, and then look at this (the fly in the photo has been wetted and looks darker than it really is as no light is coming through from behind it as it would in the water) - what more can I say? Tie some up!! Oh, and flatten that barb, Del! : )
Hook - 5x-6x long streamer, size to match natural in particular water.
Thread - Black.
Tail - Two, trimmed light Henback, Brahma Hen (or similar) feathers, back to back.
Body - black wool, thin.
Wing - Russian squirrel tail on top of a thin bunch of smoke or tan coloredUnique Hair (to get color separation between lateral line and back). You can substitute for the squirrel with other long, fine darker hair when tying larger sizes.
Belly - Steve Farrar’s Blend 'Off White' tied in heavier than synthetic in wing to give a bulkier, translucent appearance for the belly, trimmed to taper toward hook bend.
Throat - Red hackle fibers.
Eye - Prismatic stick on, placed on body behind thread head.
Head - Overcoat front end with epoxy to slightly past eye.
Life is good. Especially when someone comes along with a bad-ass fly.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The International Fly Tying Symposium was a good time last weekend. Saw lots of friends and my presentations were well attended. As usual, I learned all kinds of stuff from fellow tyers and attendees. One of the coolest things was a streamer that Chris DelPlato tied that imitates a black-nosed dace - a minnow that is very common in trout streams that is a favorite food of larger trout and other fish. This thing looked about as real as the real thing when wet! And as is one of the best things about flies like this, it's fairly simple to tie - you don't have to be a master tyer to crank them out. Chris, you got it just right with this one - color, shape, depth and the essence of the natural - very practical and efficient tie. I wish I had a picture to post here. If you're reading this CD, email me one and I'll put it up...........very nice.
We have about 20 people coming over today for dinner - family and friends. Karen's preparing some things now, I'll make a ham and my mashed potatoes. Everyone else is bringing something either for dinner or dessert. When I'm done with this, I'll go outside and cut some firewood and blow the driveway and front walk of leaves and sticks that came down this week in the rain. On second thought, I'll wake up Hunt - my 20 year old son - and have him blow the driveway and walk. I think he came home last night............
So here's something very cool. We sent this exploring satellite named Cassini out into the deep dark of space and it's been hanging out around Saturn. It sent back this pic of Enceladus perched over the vast rings of Saturn. Beautiful stuff, huh? Enceladus is very small - about 310 miles across - about the east-west width of Pennsylvania. It's also very cold, something like minus 200 degrees celsius and covered with ice - it reflects almost 100% of the suns light that hits it.
Check it out here if you're curious to see more...................
Got to run, the woods is calling me. Enjoy your turkey and those you share it with - if you're in the US of A, or if not, just have a great day and smile at someone you don't know.
Life if good. Be glad you're not a turkey.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Curiosity................didn't kill a damn thing. What it does do is make life more wonderous, joyous and best of all it teaches us the things we might never find out through any other means.
Open your eyes, ears, nose and mind and ask yourself questions about the things those senses bring to your brain........absorb, think and wonder. Always wonder..........................
Reality is better than any fiction, and richer than the mind can imagine.
Ironic, isn't it......................................???
Life is good. It's really good.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'll be there tying throughout the weekend and doing a slide program each of the two days, signing my book, teaching a fly tying class on Sunday morning, and both days I'll be a featured tyer doing a 1 hour video tying demonstration.
Lots of fun, can't wait. The best part is seeing all my tying friends, friends, and people I've met over the years that come to the show and learning a few new tricks and techniques.
Here's the website and more info:
Stop by my table and say hi, or come to one of my presentations and heckle me.
Life is good. Share something you love.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Classic stuff, but nothing new. We all get it and it goes away when we least expect it to. Maybe it's because lately I've been working my butt off at work and traveling all over creation, and then when I'm home I'm cleaning up the downed trees and limbs from the early snowstorm that hit almost two weeks ago. We have enough fire wood for 5 years, and I'm still not done with the chain saw.....it is great exercise and I love being outside. I may have to take one day this weekend and fish for a few hours to cure what ails me.....more like cleanse the mind from the foreign matter build-up from work. I got some today going to Boston and back in 8 hours........................fly, meeting, fly back...........forget about eating, thank God Karen had something ready when I get home and she doesn't mind my having crabby-pants until I eat.
Got to hit the hay.............
Life is good. If you're going to work hard, find some time to fish out the cob webs it creates in the mind.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
At about 2:00PM, Karen arrived home from school and called me to tell me the power was out and trees were down all over. She had to go around the long way because the entrance to our street was blocked by no less than a half dozen trees down across it. When I got home around 5:30, the power was still out and even more trees had come down.
We had about 6 inches of wet, heavy snow that was caught by the leaves still on the trees, and many of them couldn't take the weight. It looked like a bomb had gone off here, and at many other places I passed coming home. This is the entrance to our driveway today. The big green mass at the top is also a tree that came down.
A large limb down on the side of the drive.......
Looking east toward the pond. I couldn't get to the pond to check it out,because it was surrounded by downed trees and limbs.
We spent the night in the dark without heat or water, but it wasn't bad thanks to flannel, a thick quilt, and the warmth of my wife! It was 51 in here when I got up this morning....I think I got dressed in record time. When I got home today the power was on, the house was toasty and I had this in my hands........and she's still smiling after 24+ hours without power...what a woman! Oh, and a serious chain saw...........
So, that's it. A mess of trees, a little loss of power and four tired but warm puppies tonight. You know, if this is the worst that happens, I'll take it. Nothing hit the house and no one was hurt. I only wish I had gathered some firewood, but that won't be a problem now, because this Saturday is tree cuttin' day on the Grobert homestead.
Life is good. A little discomfort keeps the rest of this wonderful life in perspective.
Monday, October 20, 2008
It was chilly, but bright and the river was low, cool and covered with the colors of Autumn. When we first got there we didn't see another angler. By late morning there were a few, but not bad at all for one of the more popular Trout Conservation Areas in the state .
There's a reason the South Branch is one of my favorite wild trout streams in NJ. It's loaded with them, even in the gorge. Most of the wild fish are brown trout, but there are also good numbers of brook trout, and even some wild rainbows. I decided right off that I was going to fish only dry flies, and after prospecting with an ant for while, I noticed the trout were gently sipping something right in the film. I seined the surface and sure enough there were some BWO duns and spinners floating in the meniscus among the red, yellow and oranges of Autumn. Some of the leaves were even a light chartreuse in color - they looked like they were from the maple trees that line the steep banks of the gorge along with the evergreens, oaks and other hardwoods.
I tied a #18 dark rusty spinner to the 6X tippet at the end of my 12 foot long leader, and shortly after was into an average sized wild brown - about 7-8 inches. I concentrated on the glides and side eddies and found plenty of rising, willing trout by timing my cast so my fly would land in a window within the leaves a short distance up current from where I saw a rise. The largest fish was a brightly colored male brown of about 11-12 inches. All but one were browns, the one was a nice 10-inch rainbow with lots of small, black spots and pale pink flanks highlighted with light lavender parr marks. No stockies were caught today, but saw tons of them in the deeper pockets and pools, which I stayed away from. No pics of fish, left my camera on my tying desk. But here's a pic of the well-chewed fly I used.
Get out there if you can and wet a line. The water may be low, but it's cold and all the more challenging being so clear.....and full of leaves.
Life is good. Take a break from work, go fishing or do something outside, and get energized.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Late in the morning, Karen and I went out to a western NJ river so I could fish, and she could sit in the sun and study for her mid-term this week on neurology and pain management. After sitting next to the river and eating some lunch together, I rigged up and waded out into the clear, cool flow hoping to catch a few trout.
I fished for about two hours and unlike last weekend, this week I couldn't bring a fish to the top with dry flies so I had to go down for them. And in contrast to last week, I didn't catch a single wild trout. I caught a bunch of stocked brook trout - big honkers, too. All them on a size #18, black, beadhead micro-midge nymph.
Here's one of those big, ugly fish........this one was about 3 lbs! They fought well, and were fun to catch, but they just don't have the beauty and aura of a wild fish. Not that it wasn't fun and a great day to be out on the river. One the highlights was watching a good-size kingfisher work the edges of the water and after many missed attempts, it took nice 3-4 inch long chub from a side eddy.
Although it was fun to be out fishing, and the fishing was good, all in all I would much rather catch the smaller wild fish, or stocked fish that have been in the river and that have naturalized somewhat to their environment. That said, it was a joy as usual to be alive and on/in the water on such a beautiful day.
About mid-afternoon, I headed back to the car and while taking off my waders and putting my gear away, I got to listen to Karen boil down two hours worth of cramming medical terminology into her head. She quizzed me to recall it and burn the info into her head she does it all the time, and its pretty interesting stuff................usually. Sometimes its just plain funny the way she gets going and goes off on a tangent that's like a foreign language in many ways.
Then after getting home and changing, we headed into the city to see a concert at Radio City Music Hall - Ray LaMontagne.
The concert was great. And the city, in stark contrast to where we had been earlier in the day, was packed with people and humming with manmade energy. As with the countryside, the city has so many qualities that make you feel alive. If I had to choose though, I'd certainly take the country as it suits me for the long-term, but I do love spending time in the concrete jungle. Thank goodness I don't have to choose.
Life is good. So is a day of contrasts.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The river was low, clear as gin, and cool on the legs and feet. Terrestrial insects, active from the warmth of the day, occasionally got blown out of the trees and shrubs over hanging the water. The second they hit the water, an opportunistic trout would quickly dart up from below and in one swift motion, sip them in and then settle back down to wait for another meal.
When this happened, I'd fix in my mind the position of the water ring left behind. Then cast to place my fly a foot and a half above the target so it would float briefly into the trout's feeding lane. As long as I made a good cast and got a drag-free float over the fish, it would again rise to my offering and take it. Here' a couple of the many fish I caught today as I worked my way up a 1/2 mile of river alternately working rises and blind casting to likely holding water.
Most of them small, but beautiful nonetheless.
It was a great day to be on the water, made even more enjoyable as I used my "Classic" Thomas & Thomas graphite Special Dry Fly rod - 8' 3" 2-pc. 5 weight - it has nickle silver ferrules and a nice, slow action much like a bamboo rod.
Life is good. Get out and enjoy the fall colors on the trees and the fish.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The first idiot we need to address is Al Davis. The guy should pack it in and let someone else who lives in the 21st century run the team. The Raiders are a losing team now and will be as long as he runs them from his ivory throne. Not that you care, and not that I'm a Raiders fan, but when some one acts as disgracefully as he does it draws my attention. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google the moron and see for yourself.
What does football have to do with this? I love football, always have. Fly fishing and bullshitting is what you do when you are too old to play football.
And how about Obama-lama-ding-dong and McCain. Do they really think they are going to save the world? I will tell you this: It really doesn't matter which one of them wins the election. Unless the winner can bring our selfish, egotistical members of congress together, things are not going to change. Everyone of them has to be right at any and all cost.
How about not being right and instead doing what's right? Now that's a concept, huh? A government by the people, for the people.
And what about the candidates? I guess I'm cynical, but in my mind, neither of them have yet to elucidate on how they intend to "change" things in this country. Oh, sure, Obama has ideas and can articulate what the problems are and where we need to go, but he has yet to give us a road map or an actual plan of how we are going to get there.
And McCain? He's about as articulate as a drunk on a binge after getting stopped by state troopers. Lots of experience, but still lost in his past.
Yup, I'm still undecided. Like you care? I'm just a fisherman, what do I know? I know that I am like most Americans that are worried that my children will inherit a world that is very different than the one I came into after a college. I know, our parents were born into a world vastly different than ours, too, but then the contrast was a different shade of gray. Now it's more like black and white....................
And now I think its time to talk fishing.
The rivers are cool and clear. A little low, but not so much they aren't ripe for a well presented fly. Today there were some little blue-winged olives on the water. Tiny ones, the size of a freckle on an Irishman's nose. A few trout sipped them, but most drifted unmolested before taking to flight. With the shortened days, I wasn't on the water soon enough to fish, but I managed a good day dream while watching the water.........I even landed a few in the depths of my mind.
That's the great thing about fly fishing; you can fish in your mind, casting as smooth as the best day on the water. The trout rising silently to take your fly. You lift your rod, tighten the line, and then imagine the life on the end of the line as it reacts to the tension of your grip. Is it a brightly colored rainbow with pink flanks, or a buttery colored brown digging for the depths? Or maybe a wild brookie with pale blue halos highlighting randomly placed red spots on a background of deep olive? In your mind, it can be whatever you want it to be. And when you land it, you quickly take a picture in your mind before releasing it back into its watery world. You smile, just like you do when astream.
Life is good. Thank goodness I can fish in my head when the water is not at my feet.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Well, PETA for one. They sent the letter (see last post) to Ben and Jerry.......they sold the company several years ago to a conglomerate.
Cheers to PETA. Not only are they idiots, but they're out of touch. See what not eating meat and dairy products does to one's brain cells?
And the other idiot is one I need to get off my chest. Earlier this summer a large ash tree fell on my property. The trunk was cut into nice 4 foot sections and stacked near the front corner of the property (about 25-30 feet off the road) so they would dry before I moved them up to the patio to be split for firewood.
Well, they were gone this morning. Some IDIOT decided they were there for the taking, and took them. It had to be at least two IDIOTS, because the logs were quite heavy and large. It pisses me off that someone would think they were entitled to take wood from someone elses property....they just added to their bad karma account.
Yeah, I feel better now.
Life is good. If someone tells you their fire burns cold, you'll know where they got the wood.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.
For the whole story:
And those maladies they cite as being caused by cows milk? It's a bunch of hyperbole. The milk ain't the problem, the stress from dealing with jerks like PETA more likely contributes to the ills of man, not to mention the chemicals used to produce more and "better" milk. Go organic if you can or care to. I could easily Google dozens of articles that cite the benefits of drinking cows milk that use scientific methods to back them up.
If I wasn't at work and up to my wader tops in a project, I'd rant about this group for some real shits and giggles.
Life is Good. Eat what you want and allow others to do the same.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
It's fun and energizing, and makes one realize how lucky they are to get up out of bed on their own every morning and face the challenges of the day. Everywhere you look there are people with stories of strength and courage; survivors - many walking on their own, others being assisted, and still others making their way in wheel chairs.
And of course, there's my hero....my wife Karen is a survivor of stage 4 inflamatory breast cancer - 5 years and counting! She just finished treatment earlier this summer as she is now free of the disease.
The start of the walk.......most of the "survivors" wear pink tees.
A survivor, so happy to be there dyed her hair.......PINK!
The masses heading south in the park..........
And the finish..........
It was a beautiful day. After the walk we walked some more and then had brunch at the Ocean Grill - great food, go if you have a chance when you're in the city. Everything is fresh and cooked to perfection.
Hi Leigh! We missed you this year..........spread the word at Virginia Tech!
Life is good. It's really good when you can share a day for a common cause with strangers.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Life is good. Peace.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It was great, everything is great, but work has been incredibly busy. Good, but busy. Karen's back in school, Julia started at Tewksbury Elementary and seems to be adjusting.
So what's happened in the last two weeks or so? Lots, but I don't have time for all of it now. Just wanted to post something so you knew I was still breathing.
The big news right now is that my favorite river, The Madison in Montana, is experiencing the effects of aging. Specifically, the almost 100 year old dam at Hebgen Lake that's made of timbers, steel and concrete. Two of the four head gates failed last Sunday, releasing copious amounts of water into the river below creating spring run-off like conditions. Serious stuff for a number of reasons for both the river and the lake above - the lake is already down 3.5 feet since the gate failure. Here's a couple of reports from yonder.........
And this update from Madison River Fishing Company.......
September 8th, 2008
The news now is grim. The bulkhead plan did not work. There was to much turbulence at the dam intake for them to place the steel plates and stem the flow. At the moment there does not seem to be a “plan B”. The flow is still at springtime level. They are losing more than 5 inches of reservoir water elevation every 24 hours and this will accelerate as the level drops due to the cone shape nature of the reservoir bed. By Wednesday of this week the lake will be at it’s March 1st water level. There are two scenarios that are scaring us at the moment. First; they decide they need to drain the lake to fix the problem and there is no other choice. Second; they cannot get a handle on the flows and the lake drains either completely or to the point that it will take years to refill. Either way the outcome has the potential to be tragic.
Yes, there are much bigger problems in this world, but this one's close to home for me. Everytime I set foot in that valley or the ribbon of water teeming with life, I'm home.
Let's hope they get it fixed without too much damage to the environment or the economy.
Life is good. Just don't expect it to always be smooth................
Friday, August 22, 2008
Life is good. Our regularly scheduled program will resume in a moment.........anybody see my fly rod?
Life is good. Especially when your drift boat is like a boomerang.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Here we are at the start of the ceremony and everyone is cracking up because I was looking for my fly rod......there's fish in the pond!
Just after the ceremony, that's my sister in the pink and my daughter Leigh in the yellow.
Brian and my sister Barbara, sister Christina, bro John, and Christina's husband John protecting the booze and just getting started....
Some of the folks at the start of the reception.....the food was on the way. Yeah, we served the beer in bottles......we lost our bartender when we dumped the caterer. That's my mom, center behind the flowers, 80 years young.
Cutting the cake, gotta have a pic of the cake cutting. It was carrot cake with cream cheese between layers and egg-cream icing on the outside.....decadent stuff. It was gone.......
Of course, when you cut the cake, you have to eat the cake.......no, we didn't smash it into each others face.....
And what would a wedding be without dancing................
It was a day to remember. Family, friends, good food, music and loads of fun. We're off to our mini-honeymoon Saturday at the beach in Avon, NJ for the week (yup, I plan on fishing), then later in the year we're off to .........
Life is good. Mind if I go fishing, dear?.....................of course, honey, after you paint the house, clean the garage, and give me your credit cards....is there a SALE anywhere today?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Anyway, you know the stuff I wrote about the caterer we WERE going to use for the wedding this Saturday? Well, he's toast. Let's just say he took us for fools and he totally miscalculated. I don't have patience for that crap and the last thing I want is for Karen to get stressed because some idiot thinks he has carte blanche. We had a back up just in case, and it paid off. So, we have a new caterer all set to go. Same food, same number of servers and so forth, and a much more reasonable cost.
Enough of that stuff.
So, does anyone know who this Michael Phelps guy is? Seems he should have been born a fish. Think about it...........you cast your fly and he comes up and takes it. Then its off to the races, a world record race at that. First he does the butterfly, then the freestyle, and as you go to land him he takes off again doing the breast stroke. Do you think he would jump a few times like a rainbow or a salmon? Or would he dog it, digging for the bottom like a brown trout or striped bass? I do think that when you landed him he would still have his cap on with the little American flag on the side and his name, and a medal or two hanging from his neck just to show you that you caught a winner.......just make sure if you do catch him, that you release him. His mother would want it that way.
And speaking of fishing, man, I can't wait until we get some water. I haven't been trout fishing since Montana. Of course, the wedding and plans have had to come first, so no big deal. Maybe I'll fish the pond after the ceremony..........can't do that, those are my pets. The fish, the frogs and now the lily pads are in bloom. Beautiful flowers. And then there's the other aquatic plants that are also in bloom - long, slim purple blossoms that have hummingbirds coming to taste their nectar every evening. Awesome birds they are.
It's great to take a seat on one of the rocks near the water and just sit and watch them as they move from bloom to bloom. Their wings moving so fast you can't see them. But you can hear the quiet vibrations like a dream holding them in place as they dart into and out of the blooms, methodically taking the liquid sugar that fuels them. They are easy to see with their shimmering irridescense, like a magnet to the eye. Maybe one or two will visit when we are having the ceremony............
Life is good. When are we going fishing?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Last week Karen and I went to Boston for a few days and combined work (mine, she is a student) and pleasure. My daughter just moved to Boston, so it was a great few days. I got to take care of clients, hang out in one of the best cities for hanging out in, and I got to see my daughter in the evenings. What more can a guy ask for? ......fishing?
The Boston Garden and suspension bridge to the "Tunnel" from high on a roof top......
We had a blast. After spending one morning with a client, Karen and I went down to the waterfront and the historic area. Lots of people enjoying the nice weather. Late in the afternoon, we decided to take a load off our feet and enoy a beverage at Dick's Last Resort. What a hoot. The waitresses and waiters not only wait tables, but they are there to bust chops......well, most of them at least. Ours was a little up-tight, but others had fun with their tables. Here's one table next to us. These guys were visiting from England, and they had as much fun with the waitress as she did with them......
Each hat had something different written on them........some clean and funny, others off-color and funny - none of them out of line. There are all kinds of bars and eatery's in the area - Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall. Check it out.
So the big news is, Karen and I will be getting married on Saturday...4 more days! The mayor of Tewksbury is performing the ceremony, which will be next to our pond. And then, the party will begin.........you may recall my comments about the caterer......well, he's still a pain in the ass! What can you do? As long as it goes well, nothing to worry about.
Here's a pic of my bride I took while in Boston.....Life is good. And even better when you find the right person to share it with.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Yep, no one within a quater mile of me one minute, and catch a couple of fish, and suddenly I'm surrounded by a couple idiots. One guy got within 30-35 feet of me, and then when I politely asked him if he could give me some space, he told me I should have some manners.
That was around 6 o'clock or so. When the third guy came wading over I had enough. I made it clear to the three of them that they needed a class in stream etiquette before I made way back to the bank to go somewhere else. And that was the problem, by now half the world was fishing here. I looked up river, and down, and there were people every 50 yards or so. They came out of the woodwork! Not my cup of tea. I walked a ways downstream and found a pod of trout rising well away from the masses and waded out to them. After a few casts I hooked a nice fish and landed it shortly afterwards. Another 15 minutes later I hooked and landed another, and then within 5 minutes or so I had company!
It was unbelievable to say the least. Mind you, trout were rising up and down the river as far as the eye could see, yet these bozos.....new bozos, not the ones a mile up river......had to practically jump in my waders. That was it for me. I headed out of the river and walked up the bank to the car where I opened a beer and munched on pistachio nuts while I waited until the others got back. I did get to enjoy a wonderful sunset though.
Bottom line, this river gets way too much national and international press on a steady basis........sometimes you can love a river too much.
Life is good. Just don't fish the Henry's Fork if you want some solitude.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
That is what we had to do when we arrived at the Madison River on day four. It was early afternoon, the air was hot and dry, and the wind was whipping a across the bench land of the Madison Valley flattening the tall grass. A long trail of dust blew high and far behind the car as we drove along a dirt road that runs long the base of the southern side of the valley about 10 miles up river of Ennis.
We pulled off the road at a spot we know that requires a 1/2 mile walk through a treeless, grass, cactus, and rock filled field before reaching the river. Paul and I rigged up and headed to the river, a bottle of water in each of our hands. Despite the wind and hot sun, the valley was a beautiful as ever. The cactus were in full bloom, the yellow, tissue-like flower petals surrounding the orange stamen and a pale green pistil center. Sun-dried grass awns scratched at my bare calves above my wading shoes. The deep blue sky a background for the high and snow-covered mountains that hug the broad valley. I love this place, it's as home as anywhere I have ever been.
When we got to the river the wind was blowing hard downstream. Paul tied on a terrestrial and began fishing the river edge, working his way downstream while using the wind to cast his fly on the water ahead of him. I sat on a large, moss covered rock at the top of the bank and watched, finishing my water and enjoying the view. After fishing our way downstream for a couple of hours we made our way back to the car, and sleeping Joe. Neither of us caught anything of size, but we had fun.
We hopped in the car and headed up river toward the slide checking out various spots, as the plan was to fish the evening hatch after got something to eat.
About six o'clock or so we settled on a spot a couple of miles below $3 bridge where a high bluff sheltered the river somewhat from the wind. Fortunately, when we got there, the wind had settled down to a light breeze. Paul headed up river and I down. Turned out we hit it right. Caddis were hatching and the fish were on them. I worked the banks with an Iris caddis and had a field day, barely stepping into the river except to land a fish occasionally. By dark I had caught dozens of trout, 2 browns and the rest rainbows. One of the browns was long and lean, taping out at about 21-22" or so.The sun set around 9:45PM. Just before it did, it threw its last rays of light on the mountains beyond, giving the valley a nice warm glow. Once those rays left the land though, the temperature dropped like a rock.
Life is good. Sometimes its even better....
Sunday, July 27, 2008
We put in at the Wolf Creek Bridge launch site and because the river was high and flowing fast, our take out would be Mid-Canyon Rec Area - a 13 mile float. It was about 11AM, and a good breeze was already blowing downriver. The day was hot with the bright sun making it feel like it was over 100 degrees. Standard conditions more often than not on this big river. The high flows though were a first for me here, 11,500 CFS, about twice the highest I'd seen it on any prior trips here, and much higher than the ideal flow of 3,500 to 4,500 CFS. That's fishing.
We set off with high hopes and the will to make the most of the day. Here's the river early on in the float. It's big water under normal conditions, but on this day it was huge water. Bank to bank full and flowing strong and hard.
So, without getting into the boring details, we got our asses kicked by the wind and the water. We got blown all over the river - 40-50 mile an hour wind gusts. Our anchors didn't hold more than half the time so it was a long boat ride. We had two boats; one with myself, Steve and Don niether of whom had experience with a drift boat, and the other with Paul and Joe.
We got two fish, both browns on nymphs. I rowed my ass off all day just to keep the boat from getting capsized, but I can't say I didn't have fun. It was a beautiful day and we had some good banter going all day - politics, fly fishing, women, work, etc. - and lots of food and water. The scenery is always fascinating, too. I will tell you my body was toast when we pulled up to the take out 8 hours later. Its a hell of a workout rowing in heavy water and wind, and yanking the anchor rope everytime you have to bring it up. (If you're not familiar with a driftboat, they are set up so the rower also has full control of the anchor, so the others couldn't help.) No complaints by me though, I love a good workout, and any day on a river is a good day.
Here's a pic of a railroad tunnel through a mountain at the head of the canyon stretch.
It was a heck of a long day, but we ended it by going to a great steak place and chowing down and drinking some seriously good local micro brew. We spent the night at Phil Camera's lodge (the expert at tying with synthetic materials and the inventor of larva lace). The next day, the wind was blowing up to 60 miles per hour early on, so we bagged fishing the Missouri and headed down to the Madison River for day four.
Life is good. If one river isn't fishing well, find another.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Huh? What? Although I love to post and write on this thing, I also like to keep some things mostly private, but I will tell you that Karen and I are getting married next month. It's a wonderful thing! Where? Here at the house - ceremony next to the pond, celebration here and anywhere there aren't trees on the property. Lots of family, friends, and folks coming. It's going to be a blast. Caterer is a royal pain in the ass, but he does a great job in the end. Can you say hyper-tension candidate? Anyway, that's all for that.
Have you been listening to the candidates lately? Actually, have you been looking into what they really stand for and what they want to do? I hope so. Do you still think Obama lama ding dong is going to make the sun shine for all Americans? Sure he's a bright, sharp dude that can talk the tarnish off the Titanic, but look behind the curtain so you know what to expect if he gets to the big house. And then there's J.S. McCain, the conservative liberal. Or is that the liberal conservative? Does anyone know? Does he know?
Yup, I'm still very undecided on these two wannabes. Let's see who each of them chooses for a Veep. That will give us a better clue. That, and when one of them realizes that the real powder keg of the world is Pakistan. Truthfully, I don't envy either of these guys having to clean up the mess "W" has made here at home and all around the great big blue ball in the sky.
Oh, and did you hear they are just realizing the Miss Universe pagent is rigged? Yup, they finally realized that all the winners have been from Earth.
I told you this would be randomness.........
Day two of Montana we went over to the Big Hole River. What a river, and it was a beautiful, sun-filled cloudless day. One of the most scenic in Montana in my opinion. We got there late morning and like most other Montana waterways, it was high and its usual tea color. Made for tough wading and fishing.
The only real bugs we saw were Yellow Sallies and a few PMDs. Joe and I worked our way up river from the access, and the other three worked down. I hit a nice long riffle that had a few fish rising in it that turned out to be 6-8" rainbows, all of which took a #14 Yellow Sallie dry. After an hour or so of fighting the current and no signs of larger fish working, we all met up back at the car and had lunch. After that, we headed downstream to another location, but found nothing rising and lots of water, so we bagged it.
We got to the lower Ruby River around 4 or so and split up. What a day from then on. On my first 5 casts, I hooked four browns and landed three of them. All on a brown dip. As I worked my way upstream, I fished the riffles with the dip, and then in the glides and pools I changed over to a PMD transitional dun dry. Over the next 4 hours I covered about two miles of river and caught upwards of thirty fish. All browns, the biggest about 19 inches. The day was hot, about 90, and the bright sun wiped me out. About 8:00PM, I climbed the hill from the river to the road and made the long trek back to where we parked the car. Joe was in one of the cars resting his eyes. The others were still on the river. I grabbed a beer and a water, sat down, and enjoyed a feast of libations and pistachio nuts until dark when the others came ambling down the road. Everyone had a decent day.
Here are the amblers..its 9:30 PM believe it or not!
And sunset on the Ruby.............
Oh, and I scored tickets today to see Ray LaMontagne in NYC this fall! His only show there. You never saw someone who couldn't type, type so fast on the ticketmaster site when they went on sale. By the time I got through, all the orchestra seats were gone......less than 5 minutes!
Life is good. It's even better when you listen to good music.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The river you see is the upper Ruby River. It was still quite high and turbid from the melting mountain snows so we didn't fish it as we had intended. We did fish the lower Ruby, which is the river after it leaves the Ruby Lake dam, and it fished very well. Lots of good sized browns and rainbows eager to take a dry off the water surface as long as it was presented with care and accuracy. I also took quite a few fish on Serendipity's - brown, and of the original style, not that spun, clipped deer hair style so many shops tie them like these days. I'll post a pic of the pattern I used in a day or so.
On the first full day there, we headed over to the Beaverhead River. It was flowing at a good level and clear and cold. Pale Morning Duns hatched from mid-day until dark, and the fish were on them. We caught a good number of browns throughout the day, some of them quite large. All on dry flies. The trick, or the tactic that gave the best presentation, was a PMD transition dun at the end of a 6X tippet off a long leader - 12 foot or more. Great fishing under clear blue skies, low humidity, and 85+ temps. You can't beat it for the first day in paradise.
Life is good. Find the right fly pattern, and its even better.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Speaking of lush and green, the first thing I did when I got home was go out into the raspberry patches around the house and pick the ripe fruit. Talk about fresh and sweet. Great stuff and we have enough to freeze a bunch and have it last for months!
So back to Montana. We went to bed late, like 1 or 2, and got up around 7 every day. Why? Because when you fish all day you don't eat dinner til 10 or so, then you tie flies, drink beer, and laugh for a few hours. Then when the sun comes through the windows, you wake up and get going so you don't miss any of the day's fishing or sights along the way. The fishing was good to great depending on the day and the river. Even when it was just good, it really was great given the scenery and the company.
Caught some seriously big fish on dries, and a few on nymphs, though I rarely fished subsurface this trip. Here's one of the big ones from the Madison River:
To give you an idea of the size of this guy, the reel seat and cork handle length is 13". It took a modified hair caddis dry about 5 inches off the bank. Fought like a beast. After taking this one quick pic, it was back in the water, a little wiser to the next guy that comes along and tries to entice it with a bit of feathers and fur on steel.
Got to run, more later or tomorrow.
Life is good. Get away once in a while to keep it that way.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Montana, here we come. I'll try to report from the lodge if I can, but fishing, tying and enjoying the scenery comes first. If not, expect a full report, photos, and a good story or two next week.
Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Fighting Frogs - The pond is full of frogs, seemingly passive, mind their own business frogs. The fish cetainly mind their own business, but the frogs I'm not so sure about. The other night we were lolly-gagging around the pond, taking pictures and enjoying the evening. All of a sudden we hear splashing and noise going on, and when we looked, two frogs were fighting! Like they were actually pissed off at each other! Biting, and lunging at each other until one got the other in a death grip with its jaws. We had the camera and took a few shots. Here's one.....
Rough stuff, them frogs. After a few minutes the one let go and they went about their way.....separately.
Washing machines - Everyone knows when you buy a new home, at least one major appliance has to have a melt down. Well, it was the washing machine in our case. So, after a little research and coaxing from my son, I went with the LG front-loading model. Sears delivered it yesterday, and this thing is awesome. Exciting stuff, huh? Let's hope the dryer last for a while.
Montana - There's 5 of us going. Rivers are full, but we're ready. Flies are being tied, gear is readied, and I don't care if I fish really. Just getting away after a hectic spring is enough for my soul..............can you imagine ME not fishing? Karen will miss me, I'll miss her, but in a few weeks we'll be married and we'll have the party of the century! One more thing to look forward to.
What else? Montana, is there anything else? Yeah, Italy, France, and of course, Scotchin' in the British Isles after the matrimonials.
Life is good. Buy a washing machine.........an LG (Life's Good).