Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Whiner Post

You might have had the experience as a kid when someone finds something of yours that you forgot was missing. Usually the item is given back or in rare instances you hear the expression "finders keepers." As you grow older I think your behavior in these situations defines your character. In my opinion if you are doing an activity with someone and they leave something behind if they make any attempt to get the item back it is your moral obligation to return it. I've had some experiences recently that have proved not everyone feels this way. I figured the best way to vent my frustration is with a blog post.

I fished with someone for the first time on a local river and we went different directions to give each other space. While crossing a downed tree I dropped my forceps. The person I was fishing with found them later while walking on the same trail. As what usually happens when people fish together we were spread apart and left without saying goodbye to one another. Later when we were exchanging emails about our fishing experience I mentioned that I had lost some forceps. In a response I was told that this guy found them. I then asked if he could ship them and he said that would be fine just send my address. I did and didn't think much about it later. A week or so went by and I didn't receive anything in the mail. I sent a kind of reminder status update on if the forceps were in the mail. The person responded saying they were super busy and just hadn't had time yet. This is where it got weird for me. That was the last response I ever got from this person. I tried several times to contact them through email. When I say several times I don't mean I emailed them every day. I emailed them maybe once every 2weeks. After the 3rd or 4th email I just gave up and figured I was never getting the forceps back. I still have yet to see them. I understand life throws things at you and shipping someone some forceps isn't a high priority. I just can't understand the lack of any communication back or honestly taking 5min to mail something or even meeting up again. It's not the value of the forceps it's the principle that this person knows they were mine and is making no effort to give them back.

This next scenario is the one that is boggling my mind. I admit I leave things behind all the time. Jackets, hats, water bottles, if it's not attached to me I will probably leave it at some point or another. Even if that's the case does that mean it's fair game for anyone to keep? I was playing volleyball outside with a group of people I don't know really well. It was dark when we were leaving and I was in a hurry. I had bought some new sunglasses and neglected to grab them as I left. I emailed the group later asking if anyone had seen them. Someone responded saying who picked them up. I contacted this person directly asking if we could meet up so I could get the sunglasses back. The person admitted they had them and said yeah it was no big deal. I went on vacation for 2weeks and when I came back I emailed asking about the glasses. The person responded saying they could meet up "sometime". That was the last response. It's been 3 weeks since then and I haven't had any other communication. I've tried emailing the person about once a week. We live in the same city folks. This isn't like the person would have to drive 50miles to return them. I even offered to go to their house. Still no response. I really don't get it and again it isn't about the material thing. It's about the principle. This person has something they know isn't there's and isn't making any effort to return it. Would this type of thing bother you or is it just me?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Utah Trip: The Lower Weber

Looks can be deceiving. When I first saw the Weber near Ogden I wasn't sure it could hold trout. The water looked dingy and full of grass. The flow seemed really low and I figured the water would be too warm for trout. I walked the banks looking for access. Utah seems to love lining the Weber with these types of rocks.
They do look cool but they also provide perfect habitat for snakes. The round smooth shape of the rocks makes them shift at times while you're walking over them. It's a little unnerving. I could see fish flashing and I tried getting to them with various nymph setups. I didn't get a nibble. I worked downstream and looked for a good spot to try streamers.
Using a rock as a casting platform I peered down into a huge pool. There were two massive fish swimming right below my feet. These fish were giant if they were browns they had to be 20lbs or more. The fish circled slowly and moved from the blurry fast water into the still calm flows. The blobs turned into familiar fish I'd seen before. These were monster carp. I was using a big articulated streamer and I thought about switching to a carp fly. I only had a 5wt and these fish would have snapped that rod like a twig. Even with the huge fly I had a couple carp inspected and I even think nipped at the fly. I kept working the streamer along the bank and in the deeper part of the pool. There was no action. Not even a bump or tap. I talked to another angler fishing upstream. He could see fish rising all over but couldn't get one to take anything. He had been trying for over an hour. I started to feel like I was on the Provo again.
The angler called it a day and I tried where he was fishing with the same luck. I worked upstream and started to go over ideas of what these fish might have not seen before. If you've been following my blog then you know about my love for the white wooly bugger. I think it is the most versatile fly that works in almost any situation. It is my go to when things are tough. I came to a calm section where the water was almost glass clear and I could see the grass flowing from side to side. I cast once to check the action of the fly. Then I cast to where I was certain a fish would be. My cast landed short right over a grass clump. Part of the grass clump moved and started to follow my fly downstream. The fish spun back sucked up the fly then turn upstream almost hooking itself. I set the hook and the water was so clear I could make out that it was a brown. The fish was huge and my heart jumped as I watched the fish thrash. I left my net in the car and I was fighting this fish with 5x. I thought for sure the fish would break off so as I had it close I tried to get a good shot with the camera.
I noticed the fish would not swim close to me but it also didn't fight like I thought it would. I have been watching youtube videos of people fishing the Weber and Provo. I noticed one thing in a lot of the movies. The guides would hide the net from the fish until the last second. If they put the net in the water early the fish would go crazy. I was wondering if this brown was doing the same thing. Conserving its energy until it really felt danger was imminent. The fish was super close and I went to grab it by my fly. The fish jumped and cartwheeled back into the water. Then made a hard run across the river. I managed to get it back then tried tailing the fish. Once it felt my hand it bolted again this time getting hung under a clump of grass. I wasn't going to lose the fish this way. I waded close to the fish and tried to untangle my leader without scaring the fish. Luckily the fish stayed calm. If it had thrashed and went ballistic it probably would have snapped the leader. I freed the leader and the fish bolted again. We played cat and mouse for what had to be a good 5min. I eventually did something I feel is pretty dumb but I couldn't figure out how to land the fish any other way. I didn't want to hurt this fish so I started walking backwards basically swimming the fish towards me. I navigated it through shallow water into a place where I could beach the fish and still keep it wet. Then I just stared at the fish.
This could be my trout of a lifetime. It dwarfed other browns I have caught. I had enough wits about me to realize I needed to get this fish back in the water. Even after the long fight this fish had plenty left to swim off with little reviving. The white wooly bugger had saved the day again. I think I'm going to start calling this fly the "skunkbuster."
The next day my family hiked along the Weber. I had brought my rod but I knew I couldn't really fish that much. There was a nice easy access near the trail and my wife gave me the go ahead. A train went by as I was fishing and there's something I love about that.
Some how trains and fishing go together for me. The older the train the better. I managed two browns right away then I had a nice surprise. I couldn't identify this last fish. It looked like a rainbow but I hadn't caught any wild rainbows in all of the rivers I've fished except the ones stocked in Ogden. When I went to raise the fish out of the water I noticed the two orange red slits under it's chin indicating a cutthroat.
This was icing to an already awesome vacation. I had heard cuts were in the Weber but my expectations were low. Catching one was huge for me. The fishing in Utah is amazing. The rumors are right. You really are one cast from catching the fish of a lifetime.
Fly Shops that helped my trip be a success:
Troutbum2 Fly Shop - Park City
Four Seasons Fly Shop - Heber City

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

52 Rivers in 52 Weeks

A member of my fly fishing club informed me about this.

"52 Rivers. 52 Weeks.
Fishing a river a week, writing essays, following my passion, hoping to inspire others, and highlighting issues that affect this most valuable resource."-

 A woman is taking a year off work to fly fish 52 rivers in 52 weeks. She is going to blog during her whole adventure. Seems like a pretty fun thing to follow.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Utah Trip: Ogden Canyon

The challenges on the Provo had me looking for easier fishing. I was told Ogden canyon had eager wild trout. I woke up one morning and decided to check it out. The sun had not shed light across the canyon and the water was shaded.
The access is really easy and I was surprised to be the only person in the parking area. The water reminded me of many of the creeks I've fished in the Sierra's. The Ogden River was recently designated as a Blue Ribbon Stream. When I made a few casts I realized why. There were fish in every pool that could hold a trout. I spooked as many as I landed. The fish were beautiful and larger than expected.
Up until this point all I had caught were browns. I probably caught more browns in a week than I have in my whole life. The food sources and water conditions in Utah must be perfect for browns. They seem to thrive here. The canyon fishing was fun and exciting. I could have spent the rest of my vacation just exploring the canyon and be perfectly happy. It was a different experience than the Provo. The fish were smaller but they were a lot more interested in taking a fly. Especially a dry. There was eye candy around every turn.
The lower Ogden River also has decent fishing. My family tried where the river flows right through a park in Ogden. The river was recently stocked and it was the only time in my whole vacation where I caught rainbows. The stocked rainbows were pretty pathetic looking fish. Especially when compared to the brute healthy looking wild browns. Many of the stocked fish had missing fins and barely reached 11inches. I kind of felt these fish needed to be harvested to put them out of their misery. The creel limit was only 2 fish which I found interesting. Even though it's close to a populated area there isn't as many anglers as you'd expect. The hold over fish wise up pretty quickly and become selective and only hit when the drift is just right. It's a great place to fish with kids. The upper waters are a little more sketchy. Mainly because of the chance rattlesnake encounters. I didn't have any but the first day I fished the canyon a gentleman warned me that he had just passed one on the trail. It was enough to keep me from wet wading in sandals. Fishing here was bitter sweet. The conditions and fishing were fantastic. I broke my rod tip after my second fish. I don't know if it was fractured from casting big streamers or other bead head flies. It was connected by a few fragments. I had to decide if it was fixable. I decided to rip the broken section off and use the next eye as the last guide. I lost about 14inches and the rod was difficult to cast with at first. I was able to make it work and I guess now I have that 7ft 5wt I've been wanting.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Utah Trip: The Provo - Part 2

After seeing what kind of crowds the Provo drew I sought out less pressured water. I figured if I went away from where the drakes supposedly were I'd find less fishermen. My logic proved correct and I found a location where no vehicles were parked. When I entered the stream caddis were every where. They were so bad in certain places along the bank I had to hold my breath. It didn't take a genius to guess maybe a caddis would be a good pattern to try first.
I could see fish rising but I didn't get one take on the caddis. The next step was to drop a nymph off the dry. This didn't get me anywhere either. I worked the banks looking for active fish. There was a deer trail that followed the bank and quite often I'd scare some kind of rodent run into the brush. There was a point around a bend where I really worked a seem that had rising fish. I had a difficult time getting my drift right. Eventually I had a mercy strike and the fish hooked itself while the fly was dragging downstream. The action was pretty boring after that. I went hours without a hit. I came to one section of the stream where there was a cobblestone island and two nice runs went along each side. I started to get really frustrated because I knew fish had to be in both of these runs. I stopped fishing and just stared out at the water hoping for some inspiration. I had been wanting to try streamers for quite awhile but I've never had a lot of confidence fishing them. I just got a new batch from The Fly Stop just for this trip. With the way the fishing had been I figured I had nothing to lose. I tied on an olive streamer and cast into the end of a run. As I was stripping the fly in I felt a tug like I had hung on the bottom. Instantly the fly was free and I noticed after bringing the fly in that it didn't have moss or any sign of hitting the bottom. Could it have been a fish?
My next cast I changed the retrieve up a bit. I did two big strips then a pause then another few strips. After the 3rd strip I felt a tug and saw a major splash in the distance. I had a fish on and it was a good one. The fish thrashed and my 5wt could handle the fish but could not over power it. When the fish came close I got my first good glimpse and thought for sure I was going to lose it. The fish jumped several times and it started to wind itself up in the leader. This was one of the few times I was actually glad I had my net. When the fish came close I scooped it up as quickly as possible.
I just stared at the fish in amazement. How did this happen? The fishing had been so slow up until this point. I never fish streamers. This is probably the biggest brown I have ever caught.
The fish was beautiful and the whole experience was surreal. I worked the streamer here and there and I'd notice movement several times where my fly was. I wasn't sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me, I'd cast and see a flash or see what looked to be a fish follow my fly several feet. There was another run similar to the first one where I had caught the previous brown. Just like before on my second cast I felt a massive tug. This fish was really working to stay deep. I managed to get it in the calm water where I could net it.
This brown wasn't as long as the first but it was definitely thicker. I was going way out of my comfort zone and being rewarded. Was this a fluke or is streamer fishing really this effective? I was definitely going to experiment more.

To Be Continued.... Part 3 Ogden Canyon

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Utah Trip: The Provo - Part 1

My research of the Provo made me familiar with lingo like Bounce Rig, Lunker Lane and Green Drakes. The river has a reputation and the rumor was your next cast could be the one that hooks a fish of a lifetime. When I first saw the river it was nothing like I imagined. It wasn't very big in comparison to the North Carolina waters I'm used to.
There was word that green drakes were in the area and the prime time was in the middle of the day. The fly shop told me I wouldn't be the only one in the area and they weren't kidding. Every time I looked over my shoulder it seemed like someone new was walking by or standing in a spot I was thinking about fishing. I did found a spot where fish were rising. I cast near where I saw the first rise and saw a fish follow for what seemed like 20ft before refusing my fly. My next cast didn't even get a glance. I moved closer and noticed there were about 100 fish stacked up in this one run. I figured they were waiting for the green drake hatch just like every one else. There were even osprey in the trees that seemed to be waiting. There were fish rising here and there in several places but I couldn't get them to hit anything. The fishing was slow and I didn't see many people catching anything at all. A fellow angler walked by,

"Any luck?" I asked.

No but yesterday I caught 25 right where you're standing.

Just my luck. I started to get into that mode where you just kind of go through the motions. You're fishing but not really concentrating or focusing. That was until I crossed the river.
The Provo might not look big but the power of the water is no joke. The bottom is full of round softball sized rocks that constantly shift as you're wading. Combine this with a swift current and you have a lot of heart pumping river crossings. There were several times when I felt like I was rolling across the river instead of crossing it. The fishing continued to be slow and the only sign of big drake like bugs were the husks from a recent stonefly hatch.
I'd find these scattered all over but I never did see any big stoneflies flying around. The only bugs I did see were small mayflies and caddis. That's a good segway. If you're visiting Utah bring some caddis patterns. The hatches are prolific and the caddis are all over from the Provo to the lower Weber. The Provo was kicking my butt and I continued to hammer water until I ran into a guy who said he caught a few fish on drake patterns even though he hadn't seen any. I decided to give it a shot. I put on a drake pattern suggested by the Troutbum2 fly shop out of Park City. On my second cast, near a run, I saw a fish come out of a plunge pool and hammer the fly. The scenario was so different from what I experienced previously I almost didn't set the hook. I was able to pull it together and I had my first Utah trout.
The highlight for me was that it was a brown. I couldn't seem to entice any more fish with the drake pattern so I switched to a cripple. This was also recommended by the fly shop. I started to sight fish for rising trout. I found a section where a fish was rising consistently about every 30 seconds. I timed the rise and the fish took the fly with out hesitation. Now this was starting to get fun. I decided to fish this way for the rest of the afternoon. I targeted rising fish and was successful about a quarter of the time. These fish are smart. If you cast upstream above a fish and it rises behind the fly and even feels the slightest hint of the leader the fish will refuse the fly. Usually in a dramatic way by splashing and flicking the fly away. It's neat to watch. I decided to call it a day when a guide group showed up and instructed a bunch of guys on the bounce rig.

To Be Continued..... Part 2 I hit another section of the Provo and things get interesting.