Thursday, January 14, 2021

2020 Wasn't All Bad

 I'd like to say I want to forget last year but there were a lot of wonderful things that happened. My family visited Disneyworld for the first time.


 Even with Covid we were able to have an amazing vacation in the Rockies.


 We made the best of things and found time to kayak and mountain bike the VA Creeper Trail.


 I think the pandemic brought my family closer together and brought out the best and worst of us. 2020 was tougher on my kids than my wife and I. It has never been more evident that kids need the interaction of others. This generation is so spoiled and we take so many things for granted. It's easy to social distance and do what you're supposed to on paper. In reality situations make you drop your guard and not take proper precautions. The lapse in judgement can lead to a terrifying tornado of chaos and anxiety. Last year we had dinner with someone who later called to tell us they tested Covid positive a few days later. The time we spent trying to find a place to get tested until we got the final results were horrible. My family all tested negative but the guilt we experienced and the anxiety of not knowing were bad enough. 

I  hardly fished at all in 2020. I didn't tie much and fly fishing just became something I thought about but never practiced. I made so many planned trips in my mind only to have them be replaced by other priorities or be forgotten entirely. I did manage to get out a few times and my experiences were great fishing wise but the catching not so much. I don't think those experiences deterred me from further trips but I will say they hurt my fishing ego. A small pond 20min from where I live was recently stocked with trout. It's very strange because this pond will become way too warm for trout by late spring. I tried my luck there but didn't even get a bite. I was happy that I still have a somewhat decent cast but my confidence in what I'm actually doing is not the same. I've never had great confidence fishing still water and I always question my fly selection. I usually end up tying on a streamer and fishing with that the majority of the time. Even if it's not productive it keeps me engaged and my hands are always busy. 

I have more hope for this new year but there's still a lot of unknowns. I guess all we can do is our best and try to cope with what's happening. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Family Vacation - Part 2 The Fishing

I'm not sure if it was the time of year, conditions, or all combination of both but 

the Rocky Mountain National Park is the best place I have ever fished.


 
I didn't have much time to properly fish many locations because of family obligations or my wife's patience. She knows one more cast for me could turn into an hour or more. She stayed tolerant and let me fish when I could. There were many times I'd only get 10 casts or so in. Where ever I fished I either hooked or landed fish.


 I've never fished a location that was so prolific with trout. They weren't stupid you had to properly drift your fly but if you even had the slight resemblance of a good drift it usually resulted in a strike. Any buggy high floating pattern is all you needed. I fished mainly with caddis and a royal wulff.


 One of the biggest fish I had the pleasure of seeing and the heartbreak of losing was to a Chernobyl Ant. The only one I had with me. I had the fish deny several other flies and then finally come up and take the Chernobyl Ant. As soon as I set the hook I felt resistance then that sickening slack from your knot popping. It was my fault not tying the knot properly and it was cool to just see a fish eat like that but I can't help but wonder what if. 


The clarity of the water was amazing and you have postcard scenery in every direction. Even in the summer the water is cold. It was to me at least I couldn't take being in the water without my wool socks and wading boots.


The lakes weren't as bad as the creeks but they were still chilly. The pic above is from Sprague Lake. I was the only one wading in the water. 


Other people were fishing with spinning rods from shore I didn't see anyone catch anything but there was a big fish jumping right out of casting distance. I'm pretty sure it was a cutthroat. That is my one regret is not trying to target some of the different trout species that live in the Rockies. When I first read a book about the area I thought the locations were too far to really target. I checked the book again later and realized many of the places I would have liked to target I was either right next to or easily with in driving distance. 



There's a bus system that takes you to various locations in the park, one option I didn't try but think would be a good idea is to park at one of the low altitude bus stops. The idea is to have the bus take you to all the stops going up towards Bear Lake. You could fish for as long as you wanted at each stop and take the bus when you wanted to go to the next area. That would be a great way to spend the day.


I wish I had taken more pictures of both sides of the park. Most of my photos are from the West side but the East is a lot different. The east side of the range has more scrub brush and less forest. It seems dryer and has more of a high desert feel.


Both sides have their own beauty and should be explored. 


Monday, August 3, 2020

Family Vacation - Rocky Mountain National Park Pt. 1

My family has been trying to hit a National Park every year. This year the goal was to check out Rocky Mountain National Park. With the current pandemic we kept going back and forth and with the overwhelming concerns we considered canceling the trip. The current state of things have made everyone long for a distraction to get a feeling of normality. What better way to get distracted than to visit the Rockies. We were spending 4 days in the park and our first day there was tame. We were staying in Granby on the west side of the park and we took our time just exploring the area. We did a hike at Monarch Lake which is just south of Grand Lake. 
It was rumored to be a good moose viewing area but we didn't see any. The scenery was great and it was a good hike to help us get acclimated to the altitude.

The next day we actually went into the park and with the timed entry system we didn't have any wait at all. The plan was to explore some of the things on the west side and find a moose. Coyote Valley was our first destination and the a place I couldn't resist trying my luck for some trout.
The stream wasn't that deep but it had great access and plenty of places for trout to hold. 
It only took a few casts with a small caddis to get some action. I was able to hook the fish but it came off after a couple seconds. Every few casts yielded the same experience a small fish would get hooked but come off shortly after. I was a little frustrated but also relieved. I knew a fish would come eventually but I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. I tried switching to a smaller fly but the same scenarios would keep happening a fish would get hooked only to come off. We kept searching for moose along the valley but were unable find any. The scenery kept us entertained.
The next stop was the Alpine Visitor center and on the way up we saw an elk close to the road.
It ignored the cars passing by. It was so close to the road it was easy to miss behind the trees and brush. Going higher into the park is where you see the best views in my opinion. 
Once you reach the upper altitude of the Rockies you really get breathtaking views. 
Each direction you look is a postcard. 
If you visit this park I recommend checking out the Tundra Communities Trail. It's not far past the Alpine Visitor's center and it explained the habitat and animals that live in the Tundra.
If you have kids they will love the pikas and marmots that scurry around the area. The pikas were my kids favorite.
The marmots are not afraid of humans and I wouldn't be surprised if some people tried to take them home. They look like friendly mountain beavers just waiting to be pet.
We saw plenty of people try to pet them and feed them even there there are signs all over the park saying you should not do that. 

At the top of the communities trail there are interesting rock formations. 
The park did a great job of planning the path around the boulders so you can enjoy them while still seeing amazing views of the surrounding mountains. 
I feel like this trail is a must see.
I didn't take any pictures of the Alpine visitor center but it's worth visiting. It's the highest visitor center in North America. It also has a neat gift shop that has views of the canyon. 

There's too much for one post. I'll add more this week.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Hot Water.... Literally

It's the second hottest summer on record and the lake I recently fished is showing it. I went out last week to let my kids swim and when I got in I thought the water was usually warm. Some guys were treading water next to their kayaks enjoying the warm evening with some cold beers. I asked if they knew how hot the water was and was blown a way with the answer of 91 DEGREES! I didn't believe them and figured it was probably more in the high 80's. A storm was rolling in and with thunder in the distance I decided to get off the water. As I was loading up a guy with a really nice kayak setup came in. He had a fish finder that looked like it had to be in the thousands. If anyone knew the true temp of the water this guy would know. His answer was the same 91 degrees. It blew my mind how can anything live in that? I'm guessing that temp is only so many feet down but still that is hot. I've been in Jacuzzi's that weren't much warmer. I'm worried about what the temps will do to the fishing. 

Catfishing seems to be going fine. A guy in my fly fishing club posted a bunch of pics from his recent outing.
He's caught a few this size and it makes me sick. If you want to check him out his username is Andy.724 on Instagram.
With the warm water temps I'm reluctant to let my kids swim in the lake. I'm sure it's paranoia but I figure why risk them getting some weird bacteria or crud. If we get some cool rains or at least some days in the 80's I'll try my luck again. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

First Fish in the New Kayak

I took the kayak out a couple times to see how it would handle fishing. I'm still not confident fly fishing out of it but spin fishing is really easy. The rod holders work great and the material the kayak is made out of seems sturdy enough to with stand hooks. As long as you don't set the hook into the boat like you would a fish I think you'll be fine. I went out over the 4th of July weekend and hooked a nice channel catfish and white perch. 

I'm still trying to figure out the right seat configuration with the foot rests to be comfortable. After about an hour I keep wanting to lay down in the kayak. I actually slid down and laid my head on the seat to see how comfortable it would be. I could have took a nap easily. Really I could have removed the seat all together and just used the boat like a air mattress. Not sure I'm confident enough to do that just yet but I could see someone really enjoying that. I'm having fun with the boat and that's all that matters currently. It's been really hot lately and with no shade on the water the sun and heat have been brutal. I'm hoping to get out more and have some more reports soon. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Kayaking as a family

I've been wanting another kayak for quite some time and I researched several different options. My wife gave me the go ahead to get a tandem and I had one on order and decided to try a inflatable for the kids. The Intex Excursion Inflatable kayak came and after our first test float I was so impressed I decided to order two and use them with the family. 
The boat takes about 7-10min to inflate with the dual pump hand pump it comes with. The kayak is very sturdy and although I don't think could stand up in it but the inflatable bottom doesn't feel like a water bed. It fits a adult and child comfortably but the boat was designed to be used solo as a fishing kayak.
The boat comes with paddles, two seats, rod holders, pump and skagit right out of the box. The kayak is very easy to maneuver and tracks very well. It does get caught in a cross wind if it's really blowing. 
I can't comment on the durability because I've only had the boats out twice but so far my I've been very happy with them. I'm not sure you can find kayaks that are easier to transport and setup. Breaking them down doesn't take long at all and they both fit in the back of my SUV. 
I did get one of these boats for fishing and I have to admit I'm a little concerned about fishing out of it. The boat seems durable but I don't think it could handle a decent hook hitting the side of it. I remember with my old kayak my cast would sometimes send a fly right into the side of it. That kayak was hard plastic so there was no concern but with this I wouldn't feel so confident. I do plan on using spinning tackle I'll be sure to post a review once I do. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Stinging Lips on the Eno

Took the kids back to where it all started for me fly fishing in this area. I have plenty of posts about the Eno and I think this trip the kids are starting to realize why I like it so much. 
My daughter didn't care about fishing and spent most of her time using her hat as a seining net.
My son was eager to fish more than he's ever been. 
The Eno is a great place for beginners. The current is fairly mild and the water is knee deep in most places. The sunfish are always happy to hit flies.
It's also a great place to hike with old homestead features and bridges.
It was great to get away and forget about this virus stuff for at least a few hours. 
The distraction was welcomed and we look forward to more days like this.