Wednesday, July 28, 2010

all work and no play?

beautiful evening for a ballgame at Isotopes Park

Sunday, July 25, 2010

perfect day

A fervent believer that many of life's most important lessons are best learned on the business end of an 8-foot leader, I brought the whole fam damily out to finally meet one of my most favorite places on the planet.  A place so special I've now brought exactly three people to experience it's qualities: two related by blood, the third by the (unshakable) bonds marriage, luv you Roughriders!

So imagine my dismay to round that last corner on that remote dirt two-track to find a battered Jeep parked roadside, sporting this:

Not that I have anything against TU mind you, being a sometime member myself, volunteering for streamside restoration work in the past.  It's just that an emblem such as the above plastered on a battered fishing rig, surreptitiously parked deep in the outback is the surest sign that your 'secret' fishing place aint so secret my friend.  

Not by a long shot.

Almost as bad, in the near term anyways, was the thought of the family's introduction to 'my' dream stream fishing instead now behind an accomplished angler, ie from fishing feast to famine.  Double whammy, not what I had in mind for the day, to say the least.  

So you could understand my conundrum Saturday morning, staring discouragingly at the Interloper's Jeep, trying to work thru the day's Plans B, C, D.  

Not one of which held a candle to my intended plans of showing my favorite people all the reasons I love this place: the remote wilderness, the crystal water, the streamside wildflower show, and the cutthroats, my lord the cutthroats!

Determined not to be outdone before we were even out of the gates, this cagey angler summoned all the cunning I've honed over years of clandestine bushwhack-fishing to mitigate the strip-mining angler ahead of us, and salvage the day's fishing.  Kneeling down and sweeping some pine needles aside to clear a space in the dirt, I gathered my team, using my bowie knife leatherman 'juice' multitool to quickly diagram the dire situation facing the Team that morning. 

Allright Team, we're this Royal Wulff here, and down thisaway is some of the most unspoiled and pristine cutthroat fishing in the Rocky Mountain West.  In between,  these wooly buggers represent one or more bogeys of indeterminate number and temperament, exact location unknown.  Now what we do know is the suspect is an angler of some accomplishment, most likely capable of pricking or otherwise putting down every quality cutthroat for 4 river miles.  ...Honey are you listening?, where'd your mother go?...

My Team somewhat reluctantly reassembled, Low Holing the interloper was quickly debated, discarded for odious reasons.  Hate it when that happens to me, know what I mean?  No if we were to salvage the day, it'd take thinking like a coyote to catch a coyote, if you get my meaning.

Now OK, if it were me, I'd most likely head into the stream somewhere around here, and fish up.  It figures then, that we try this area, as no sane angler would attempt to bushwhack the stream through that underbrush...ready, Break!

So mid morning finds us finally gearing up streamside, on the brink of marital divorce a gorgeous plunge pool, nursing bruised shins, forearms from the precipitous bushwhack hike down to the stream.  Team member She Who Stands With A Fist Mrs Wulff sits strangely silent, curiously a bit removed from the group while I rig up a coupla 4wts for the day.  No doubt plotting her revenge contemplating the beauty of Nature all around her.

The boy, for his part, quickly assumes the role as  fishing guide to his sister while she breaks-in her new wading gear in a convenient pool.

Preamble complete, time to get down to business!

 (Just to show the troops what they might expect for the day mind you), I casually flick the Royal Wulff, #12, into the heart of the nearest pool.  Just as if scripted, an obliging mouth breaks the surface to inhale the fly.  Both kids gasp in unison, duly amazed: fish on, fish on!   

Now you see kids, that's how it's done...
you'll have to forgive a father his affectations- those of you with young kids know from where I speak :-]

with my best girl
First up, my best girl.  Her first time in full wading gear, working hard to stay upright in the bouldery current.  We practice casting a bit, miss the first coupla takes.  Soon enuf, her first fish for the day struggles against her determined reeling, is soon netted by her brother the guide.  Nice cuttbow, one of the biggest for the day.

her smile says it all

The boy's up next, a bit more comfortable with his greater experience.  The fish still hang out just beyond the reach of his budding casting stroke for the most part, so I eventually help work his stroke to get the fly upstream far enuf.  Which turns the tide, and the boy is soon tight to a beautiful full-blooded cutthroat.
Jones.  Dr Indiana Jones
Mrs Wulff is up next, and expertly stalks a promising pool.  She shakes some of the rust off in the first coupla takes, eventually tightens up on one of the pool's bigger fish on the BHPT dropper.  Good work Hon!
angler, compleat
And so it goes throughout that gorgeous day, the  morning waning into afternoon in that timeless manner when everything is simply...what's the word?  Perfect.  Yeah, perfect. 

perfect day

coupla cold ones back at the truck

Late that afternoon we meet our interloper fellow angler on the hike back to the truck, another small stream cutthroat enthusiast.   

We swap a coupla stories, fishing spots even, finding more than a couple that we have in common.  Nice enuf fella, young, single yet, fishing his brains out every weekend all over hill and dale.   

Reminded me of someone back in the day...


monsoons have arrived

monsoons have erupted statewide, schweet.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dawn patrol

Gettin too hot to ride after work, thought I'd try something new: dawn patrol. Worked out pretty schweet, if you don't consider I locked the keys in the car, oops. Thx to swift action by darlin wife & sympathetic neighbor, still made it into work on time~

Monday, July 19, 2010

third stream's the charm

After the big browns on Saturday's high country opener, figured I'd go prospecting for some bigger 'bows to round out the trip.  So Sunday found me knee deep in a stream on the beaten path.

more backcountry trekking there and back again...

just where, I forget!

 found what I was looking for...

in more ways than one...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

chunky monkey

in the blazing heat on Otero Canyon.
Monsoons are late and it's getting fairly crispy out there- need some rain!

Friday, July 16, 2010

feeder's feeder

Mid afternoon, I slip one last mainstream 'bow back into the water, thinking it's time for a little bushwhacking- on up that small, choked feeder.  A few cutthroats would round-out the day nicely, I'm thinking.  Been wondering  just how big the feeder's own feeder stream might be,  having never bushwhacked that far back before. 

Now if my favorite stream is just the right size, this feeder is  ridiculously small at the get-go.  I downsize to the 4wt, shed my pack to prepare for the tight quarters ahead.  Many places, the brush bridges the stream, you get a face full of scratches and spider webs beating your way through.  Most places you have to prospect from pool to pool, as the runs between could hardly wet your boot laces.  Roll casting dapping! is the norm.  But the fish now!  How in the hell does a 14-incher get by in such skinny water?!  Somehow they manage, all big-headed, snaky, (and naive!) this early in the season.

I doubt very highly this feeder gets fished but once-twice a season, I like to think none at all if I were to neglect it.  Trackless wilderness, to put it mildly.

I spook some big fellas, mostly from suddenly popping my head up above a plunge pool rim or log, only to see an impressive shadow scoot under cover.  I learn once again it's best to high stick just the rod tip over the rim, watch the fly float almost eye-to-eye, wait for the reward.  With each flash and take, I think cutt?!, but it's a good while before the browns make way to 'bows and cutbows, and finally the rio grandes I've been searching for.

Maybe a mile and a half in, I'm finally rewarded with the sight of the feeder's feeder tumbling down from the high country mesa, a thousand feet above.  Now if the feeder is ridiculous, the feeder's feeder is just plain laughable in size.  But those rio grandes are coming from somewhere, maybe from waaaaay up there?  Before I know it, I'm billy-goat climbing the cascade, taking a moment now and again to pluck feisty rio grandes from isolated plunge pools no bigger than a wheel barrow.  Sweaty, scratched, dented, my legs protesting the endless stair climbing, I finally complete my quest with a sizeable specimen, plucked from under a foam line: a sleek little 9incher in 6incher water.  The lone fish in that last pool, schweet.

The road less traveled back to the trail traverses a bench high above the feeder, through dense aspen groves knee-high in wildflowers, silvery-green grasses.   I rest a moment sitting on the rim, crunching an apple to refuel for the long hike back out, drinking in the view of the valley in the late afternoon glow below.  A mountain breeze stirs the grasses, the rains've held off, the fish have been willing, diverse  and plenty- it's been a stellar high-country opener by all accounts.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

high country opener

Well I'm back now in the throws of civilization, somewhat bruised, battered, initially sore as hell, yet still grinning like the Cheshire cat.  This season's inaugural high country trip proved a total bender of the fly fishing sort: three backcountry streams, 8 river miles prospected, 20 hours on the hunt to match the 20 miles of backcountry trekking.  When crammed into 48 hours Sat-Sun, looking back it's no wonder I called the game with time still on the clock. 

First up was my favorite venue, most often my first choice to open the season, and its close.  It offers a yin-yang mix of snaky meadow water inhabited by big-headed browns, and a bit higher- canyon pocket water hiding some brilliant 'bows.

While I consider this stream my home water, fishing it more often than anywhere else, I am constantly amazed at the heady blend of crystal water; cobbled bottom; lush riparian mix of willows, pines, aspens; willing fish.  And bugs!  My lord the bug diversity alone leaves the jaw agape, you'd best breathe through your teeth early in the season unless you like your protein served six-legged in a size #12-20.

Taking a breather Saturday am, I stand midstream awhile, allowing the cold water to rush around my legs while I attempt to categorize the morning's smorgasbord.  There's a smattering of Yellow Sallies #18,  some of those ubiquitous (smallish) brown stones #16, enough big rusty-brown stones #10 flying around, gangs of brown drake spinners #12, I think grey drake adults #12, trickling stream of tan caddis #20, even an occasional orangey pine moth #10 added to the mix.  

Those brown drake spinners seemed to be the ticket, tempting fish 2-1 over the root beer float guide saver.  Before the morning waned, I went through my meager supply of rusty spinners (left over from our last Yellowstone trip), leaving me wishing I had brought the vise this go-round.  Thinking future installment of In the Fly Box: quill body wrapped AK Best style, bi-plane antron wings, moose tail in triplicate- cause fish can count ya know!

Two most memorable takes:
  1. Segue to shallow gravel riffle sparkling bank to bank, where there's absolutely no cover for like 30 yards- oh except that one breadbox depression at the roots of that old bankside stump.  Might as well hit it, as there's nothing else within casting distance for the moment.    Spinner's drift ending, just about ready to turn away, one eye already on the next pool upstream....slurp!  Big brown spools line on downstream in 8 inches of water.  The net proves he's pushing 18", the biggest fish of the trip, noice!
  2. Deadfall ponderosa retaining the bank, the slight scouring of gravel underneath creating the perfect feeding station plus refuge right at hand.  Yep, ghost form fins close to the surface, rising steadily between branches.  First cast of the spinner prompts a mad rush at the fly, fish on!, leader instantly parts at the tippet knot as the brute rushes under cover, our hero left breathless.  Whew, big bow!  And taking my last spinner to boot!

Like greeting an old friend to pick up again right where you left off, I prospected familiar bends, pools, runs admiring each fish brought to hand.  And thanking Providence places such as this still exist on the face of this good earth- Big Oil, atv's, forest fires, backcountry cattle notwithstanding. 

I'm left wondering, as many do, if it's the fishing I love most, or the fish, or the places fly fishing takes me.  It's becoming more clear with each season, I could almost just as easily hike, sans rod, maybe toting a camera instead, into those remote places I call my own, and be equally in bliss.  

Almost...just not quite this day.

Friday, July 9, 2010

trending toward bliss

heading out of town- mood ring predicting good things for the weekend

weekend essentials

Take care o the basics and everything else is gravy. 

note to self: fly rods = basics

oatmeal cookies = gravy

microbrew = basics


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

fishing trip earned

team roughrider contractors completed staining today- earning this dad a few days chasing fins this weekend. Suh-weeeet!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

work day done

hauled 3200lbs of concrete twice today: once to back yard & again on into 8 post holes: one tired boy

makin cookies

happy birthday america

hope this finds you chasing fins or carving schweet singletrack while we hold down the fort~

Saturday, July 3, 2010

bringing the heat

Mrs Wulff givin our stubborn adobe soils a what for