Monday, September 28, 2009

So long, friend

Like many of you, I've been eying our foothills lately, a city dweller's attempt to gauge Autumn's march thru the high country, points north. Despite my careful scheming, my glorious plan to eke out one more family backpack trip lay in shreds about me Saturday as I instead found myself plodding thru (yet another) conference, bemoaning the fact my darlin wife was in for much the same the weekend next. Meanwhile, high country aspens wait for no man, sigh.
high country beckons

Paying only half a mind to the seminar at hand, I let my subconscious fish brain (you have one too, you know, you just have to learn to harness it!) hatch the workings of a Plan B: to pay my respects to the high country one last time before the snows of winter shut 'er down for another season. And what a plan, indeed!

So Sunday finds me and man's best friend gearing up streamside, marveling at the newly minted golds, coppers, russets that have replaced summer's heady greens. And the sky! Cloudless, horizon to horizon, of that deepest azure that signals the onset of autumn in god's country. Temps into the 70's, a picture perfect, maize and blue day is upon thee!
maize and blue day

(Well that was me marveling I guess, Scout's more like, Hey! is that a cookie?!!)

I could not buy a fish for the first coupla hours, the cold canyon water held them tight to the bottom cobbles. I know this, as there were a coupla holes where I could count the cobbles, and the fish, the stream runs that clear. But while I could see them finning the depths, I had not come to fish with indicator, nymphs, weights. Nope, if this is to be the last high country trip of the season, I will fish it as befits the occasion, and today that means on top, with a dry fly, lightly dressed: black Ant, #16. Replete with that cute tiny sailor hat, kid you not. (No not the author, the ant! Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
dark canyon

My morning proved luckless in the canyon, with one notable exception: dark silhouette glides upwards thru the water column, cautiously studying a tiny, hapless insect, curiously sporting a rather unfashionable white hat. More out of charity than anything, this big-headed brown ventures a taste, and is promptly stung for his kindness. He repays the favor by effortlessly parting the tippet, carrying his tiny black souvenir back down to the depths. An honorable demise for a sailor such as he, no? Whoa, nice fish Scout, didyasee that?!

Midday, has us finally arriving at my planned destination: that snaky meadow water that should be every brown's vacation poster come fall. The water is a mere ghost of its summer self however- most runs that in the summer average 8-12" deep are lucky to be sportin 4" this fall, whoa. Skinny water indeed, with holding water few and far between. So trusty Scout and I spend our time meandering up the streambed, snapping photos, taking in the scenery, congratulating ourselves on our cleverness to steep ourselves in a day such as this.
pockets of gold

Whoa, dude, get a load of that!
A coupla nice browns cruise a good run, this way and that, perhaps looking to bed down, or just maybe for some lunch. In goes the ant, the left twin dashes over for a looksee, easy take, fish on!
17" torpedo

Wash, rinse, repeat. Additional opportunities prove hard to come by, much meandering and daydreaming, only to stumble upon gold once again. Jackpot! Look there buddy, under that bush! Nice brown holds tight under cover, much like a scene repeating from a year ago, gratifyingly enough, on this very same stream. Schweet, if I can just manage the cast...

Which I do, expertly enuf, to the surprise of both Scout and I. Dry fly and dropper bracket the target upstream, just as they outline in the books. 1. Fish at Point A, under overhanging bush. 2. Deliver fly at Point B, avoiding upstream snag, overhanging bush. Caution: do not line the fish, else game over, repeat hour long search for next quarry...

Done! But instead of the solid hookup promised by the gameplan, our adversary scoots outta there as the tippet between fly and dropper line him, yes line him!, as he inspects the top fly. Dammit, now he's under the bank. Nice work, that, bummer.

Gonna have to wait him out boy, don't know when I'll get another chance like this. Sure enuf patience being what it is (a virtue!), he cautiously works himself back into position over the next five minutes. Let's try that again, in goes the pitch, now hungup on the bush, dammit. Fly's out!, he's still there, planets align, one more I have him!
autumn gold

The gorgeous afternoon wanes, first mergansers, then a raptor wheeling skyward to entertain faithful Scout and I. The water at times acts as a perfect reflecting pool to the streamside show, I'm left wishing yet again for the photographic skills that could render the scene justice.
wheeling raptor
merganser flight
autumn reflections

Scout and I eventually approach Days End, that sweet pocket water that marks the end of our angling day. We connect with our first rainbows of the day, the first a postcard of rainbow perfection in coloring, if not in size. The last, perfection in stature, tenacity, and utter decisiveness in his rise from the depths to inhale the fly. Bravo!

Scout and I sit streamside awhile, sharing a neglected lunch, watching the shadows lengthen down the valley. Occasionally, a breeze shakes loose a shower of aspen leaves reminding me this perfect moment will not last, our day is near done, and winter is coming.
gold prospecting

Our hike back to the truck takes longer than usual, seems there's always one more photo to snap, one more grove to explore, as the day, the season draw to a close.
season's end

All too soon we make that final stream crossing that says the truck is just around the bend. I linger a moment trying to sear into my memory the events and my lord the sights of the day. I reluctantly turn away, back to truck, to civilization, the road most traveled.

So long, friend! Until we meet again...

captura y libera- mjh


  1. Well said - in both words and pictures.

    Oh yeah - nice brown, too!

  2. thx CA! Not quite willing to stow the rods just yet, ya know?