Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
special thanks to my darling wife for this arty shot via the new phone.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
This installment features a big fly with a blend of influences: the basic pattern from Fly Fisherman Magazine's pattern archives, quill body technique by AK Best. I tie it in various sizes from #12 down to #18. 12's and 14's rule the roost on my favorite waters where you often find matching naturals in brownish-olive and grey throughout the summer.
Works well to match those mysterious red quills we have in northern NM, when tied in pinkish-brown.
Quill body to your liking, light colored yearling elk tied for the post, grizzly hackle to match body, bit of antron or moosetail for the shuck. When dressed with Dryshake, it'll float like a boat in pocket water, serves as an excellent emerger and searching pattern in one fly. Tie it on!
captura y libera-
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This ride is right in my backyard- ABQ has a fine network of trails tucked in the west foothills of the Sandias, in dedicated Open Space. The overall trail network consists of two distinct areas, conveniently coined Foothills North and South. You can cobble together loops ranging from 3-9 miles in either, with FHN providing some additional bonus mileage. Today, I'm zeroing in on FHS, my more favorite of the two.
My regular loop proves just over 9 miles, over varied terrain, mostly following Trail 365. The tread is generally smooth, with few requisite rock gardens to make for technical riding. There are a coupla notable runs up there to get your rocks on, one in particular is infamous for wreaking havoc on the uninitiated. I'm looking at you, A-Line!
a bit of local gnarl
You'll find FHS generally a bit more sandy than FHN, esp late in the season after our monsoons. However, the decomposed granite fines and more southerly exposure work to your advantage during ABQ's short winter season- the tread consistently remains in excellent shape when it's sister network to the north is too muddy to ride. Yep, ABQ offers rideable tread 24-7-365!
FHS sees less hiking & running traffic than FHN, and offers more varied climbing to keep those pistons in shape. Mule deer, morning dove, desert quail, coyotes, cottontails, and even roadrunners (saw two this weekend!) are common trail companions, despite the trail's proximity to ABQ. Rattlesnakes are more uncommon thankfully, but I've run across (almost over!) a few up there as well.
keep your eyes open!
Monday, August 24, 2009
I dunno about you guys, but I'm fairly certain it's a high country stream loaded with cutthroat trout on the rise. :-P
Tody, I'm honored to present another installment of Peabody award-winning videos brought to you by the fine folks at Royal Wulff Productions. I luv those guys! Video's cobbled together from a compendium of trips in search of wild cutthroat of the most colorful and (feisty!) variety. I'm hereby exhausted of vid footage!
double-click vid frame to expand to fit your screen, find it here for mid-sized frame via Vimeo.
(in the second sequence glory pool, look for up to 4 cutts: lower right was the Big Fella (caught him allright! 14", sweet), lower left fronting submerged boulder (rises 0:34), mid left (dark), another that comes & goes hard to catch.) Caught 4 fish from this single pool via dry and dropper.captura y libera, mis amigos!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
fueling up for the great adventure
So Sunday has us booting up at a favorite sequestered spot, high up an offshoot forest road, not wanting to attract any attention to our endeavors. What this 'bity creek here? Awe, not that good really, mostly brookies, small ones at that....
A bit of a bushwack is requisite- first to cut the trail, then again at our jumpoff point down into the tangled gully that serves as our portal into the dark canyon and its waiting cutthroat. I'm prepping W as we prepare to make our descent, realizing this descent is much more a paratrooper drop than a father might otherwise want for his youngster, don't tell your mother! W's a trooper tho, looking back up at our precipitous freefall, declared it the funnest thing he'd done, !evah!, is there more?
Oh you betcha, just wait a bit!
We scramble into our gear, eyeing the water: hmmm, water's down a ton, never seen it this low....maybe half the surface area I'm used to seeing. Gonna be tough today you think ,Dad? .....naw not with these cutts, they always come out to play.
Never disappoints. Low water, check. Cold temps in the am, check. Hand-numbing water, check. Some other sonofagun fishing ahead of us, maybe yesterday judging by the trampled bank? Check. Sheesh, never seen evidence of anyone else down here, bummer that.
No matter, the Force runs strong in these two anglers, master and apprentice: fish on! Now you give it a go buddy... fish on!
W fished the smaller pockets on his own, working to solve the riddle of Drag as the morning wore on. I punched longer casts up the bigger pools, we trading a single rod back and forth for W to manage The Take, as it came.
We managed to scare up a few fish before things got tough, time for lunch.
As if in respect of the tales I regaled to the boy over lunch, the stream offered up improved success as the afternoon waned. As the canyon shadows encroached onto the streambed, the cutthroats seemed to take advantage of the new found cover to lose some of their earlier caution, sweet. We caught more in those last two hours than we had previously all day. Now, that's the stream I know!
Next up, a triple series of long pools. We manage to pluck one fish from each of the two lower pools, get set up on the last. Up at the head fins a solitary, colorful cutt, his orange flanks flashing now and again. Oblivious, for the moment. Oblivious until one of his brethren scoots up the pool to give warning. No worries, he's still there, phew. W watches over my shoulder with anticipation from his perch on tabletop boulder midstream. In goes the pitch, and the river explodes as the panicked cutt blasts out of his lie, darts around the head, then screams on downstream to safety.....and highsides himself up on W's perch! There he's stuck, a literal fish out of water, flapping around like a dolphin at Seaworld kid you not, while we stare slackjawed at the scene. Incredulous, I finally break the spell to reach for the net, and scoop this beautiful cutthroat up like plucking fruit from the vine! We both break out in laughter at the impossibility of the Moment: my son the Fish Whisperer and the Cuthroat that begged catch me, Catch ME! Don't mind if I do...thank you sir! Just 7 years old and already he's catching them without rod, reel, or fly! Ha!
Later, Last Chance Pool signaled the end of our day, we had a long hike back out. Just a coupla more casts, wham! Dad, another one! Not surprised my boy. After this day, not surprised at all....
(who caught who here?)
captura y libera, mis amigos! mjh
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Plan B that day consisted of meadow napping, wildflower snapping, cutthroat chasing...
There's a few cutts in that meadow, keep yer head down!
So we stashed the bikes the second day, booted up, found our way up a headwater meadow onto the CDT. From there, just a hop, skip, jump on up top of one of the many peaks looking down into Pacific and Atlantic drainages. Wow- pbj/cliff bar lunch served on top of the world, 12,600 ft by our gps!
Smallish squall to the north had us packing up before too long. Not half hour later, that small squall had matured into full blown tboomer, thankfully still centered over the ridge to our north.
Wasn't long however, before the storm spilled over the ridge, urging us to quicken our pace.
Little buddy couldn't take the pace wearing his lowtops, the uneven meadow grass wanted to roll his ankles at every opportunity. No problem, buddy, let me give you a lift-
not gonna beat the rain, troop: deploy jackets!
One thing about those high country storms, they sure move right along. From sunny skies, to tboomer, back to sunny skies, all in 90 minutes.
our vistas gave me some good leads towards better mtb access to the divide, I'm sure to be back before the end of this season!
Always one to look a gift horse in the mouth, in responding to the family's queries, I innocently offered how I wouldn’t mind a bit of fishing for Father’s Day. Thinking more on it later, I offered it might be even better if we could camp, whaddaya think kids? Maybe get a little biking in one day, fishing the next? Heck, might as well make an extended weekend out of it all, what say? Yayyyyyy Dad! Alright then kids, as you wish. ;-)
So we loaded up the son of Big Red, Clampet style, figuring to pull into the Chama Grill parking lot Friday around 3 to replenish our ice cream supplies. The road gods had us arriving near dinner time, don’t ask (all you Dad’s can figure this one out: Napoleon Bonaparte had nothing on today’s Dads when it comes to staging an army of kids, dogs, gear.) Trujillo Meadows Campground near Cumbres Pass, CO turned out to be the prettiest little find, sitting near 10K in elevation, surrounded by receding snow fields, green parks, dense green-black forests. The CDT runs right past camp, the numerous connecting trails had me dreaming of ridge riding the high country all that night.
Chat with all the train buffs and photographers milling around Cumbres station, just down from the campground. Seems the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge train takes on water at the pass, before heading back into the mountains on her way to Osier. Cool vibe ripe with anticipation, as everyone stands around in driving rain, waiting for The Arrival.
Chase the Cumbres & Toltec up and down the pass: I defy anyone’s ability to keep driving in the sight of that engine churning up the mountain, her stack belching smoke, the engineer blasting her steam whistle Here She Comes! So we screech to a halt at a convenient overlook, wave the train on by, soaking up the sight and my lord the sounds of The Passing. Left behind, we just stare at each other, silly grins on our faces. Hey, you kids wanna chase it back up to Cumbres? Yaaaaay, Dad! As you wish…
Flattening coins on the tracks: we arrive breathless back at Cumbres Pass, catch sight of grown men placing their offerings down for the train gods. Hey you kids want to place some coins on the rails? Now they have no idea what will happen: W thinks the coins will shatter, C thinks they’ll get spit out like watermelon seeds. Let’s see, here she comes! Ground rumbling, stack spewing, wheels churning, whistle blowing, all combined in bass resonating deep in your chest, wow!
Nothing like a hot lunch on a rainy day: Hey you guys want to treat ourselves to some lunch? As you wish….rubbed ribs at funky local café in Chama.
Lazy tent time: games, reading, napping while it continued to drizzle until early afternoon.
Waterfall frolicking: small stream adj to camp cascades abruptly over a 50’ cliff, beautiful. Hey you kids wanna head down to the bottom of the falls? Yaaaay, Dad! As you wish…
Dinner proves wonderful in its simplicity: chili dogs roasted over the campfire, smothered one of L’s favorite chili finds. Yum!
So we finally head down on over to the river valley, a prettier venue for family fly fishing I have yet to see. We find that small public water stretch bracketed by private ranches, decide today is the day to finally sample that green meadow, after passing it by every summer for 12 years. Always seemed too small to warrant the trouble to scramble down there, but should be perfect for a picnic alright.
Grey Drake, #12
Giant Stone, #6(look at that tiny red mite on his side!)
I set C to fishing downstream while W naps away some tummy troubles. We watch a smattering of adult stones skim the water, but no risers are evident, hmmmm. C wonders at the sight of a cliff swallow diving in to snatch an adult stone mid-air. I hear that familiar plash, and turn back to see rings disappearing from midstream. Alllrighty then, but darnitall, I just switched to nymph rig. I watch the second rise, and send my tandem rig down the same line. Up comes the fish and he gently inhales my shockingly-pink indicator! I pull tight, momentarily have him on as I pull the trailing fly thru his teeth. Woooo, that was fun, didya see that?! He proves too far for C’s casting, so I shoot a coupla casts out there for her, while she anticipates the strike. Yep, he come up again, now he’s on tight! Go C go! Nice 16” bow is shooting this way and that while C works to get him under her reign. Up to the bank he comes, oooooh, he’s off! But as good as caught he was, yaaay C!
A nap later, the caddis are really crowding the bank, despite the growing breeze. Not another fish in sight, despite (result of?) our collective pounding. Finally, one spunky little brown begins taunting first C, then L, out at midstream. I happily watch my girls’ growing intensity, as they slowly ratchet up their game in the face of repeated heckling. Finally C calls in the big guns: hey Dad, can you help us catch this fish? As you wish Sweet Pea….sigh, I guess a father’s work is never done!
I patiently wait for this fish to reveal himself, begin to turn away even, but upon seeing that, apparently he just couldn’t resist one more little dig of a rise. OK brother, I have you now. Cast, drift, cast drift, now I have him! Yaaay Dad!
Perfect day, with finishing touch of ice cream at our favorite burger shack down in town. All told, a perfect weekend, gifted by my favorite people on the planet.