Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cody Wyoming

God, Country, Family, Rodeo. That's Cody Wyoming's motto and after staying in Cody and attending the rodeo I can believe it. It's a must do if you're ever visiting this town. It's fun for the whole family. My kids had an absolute blast and even got in on the action. 
The rodeo has always fascinated me. It's where man and beast work together or against one another depending on the circumstances.
Women look just as tough as the dudes and there's an intensity watching this live that can't really be matched with other events.
These people risk their lives on a weekly basis to do the thing they love for hardly any money at all.
It has to be a hard life living in the rodeo scene but all the people that were participating genuinely loved it. 
 The audience sits on the edge of their seat most of the night and it was fun to see the kids get involved.
They had an event where the kids tried to get a flag that was tied to a calve's tail. You might think to yourself poor calf but compared to some of these kids the calf probably had an advantage. I was surprised that in a time where people can be so litigious they'd let something like this happen. The calves and kids were fine and everyone had a good time. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Dumbest Brook Trout in CO

Before Yellowstone I visited my brother in law in Denver. It was my first time there and I found it hard to believe that a decent trout stream would be anywhere near a large metropolitan city. To my amazement there is a ton of trout water with in forty minutes of downtown Denver. You can have it all small stealth stream fishing, trophy monster hunting, and everything in between. I fished a canyon that had some of the most beautiful water I had ever seen. 
Plunge pools for days, bugs fluttering here, and there with fish jumping in the distance. 
You could literally see the fish in the water at times and I ignorantly expected to catch a fish on my first first few casts. A hundred casts later I realized my expectations may have been a little off. 
None of the fish even sniffed my fly but there was a brook trout sipping bugs off the surface right at my feet. I would leave the fish alone for ten minutes then send another cast its way. Each attempt I tried a different fly and the fish came up sipped the fly off the surface to only have me pull it out of its mouth. What fish hits a fly multiple times and feeds 3ft from the bank? 
This fish apparently. Fell for an elk hair caddis. 
It was a gorgeous fish even if it was the dumbest brook trout in CO.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

I Heart Boone

There's a small but growing town tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Most people only know of it because of its college Appalachian State. There is a lot more to this place than just a college town. The location is a tiny paradise for outdoor recreation. Fishing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, take your pick. All can be done in this area. The location of the town isn't super convenient. It's a 2hr drive to the closest metropolitan city but that only adds to the charm of this mountain town. When you get there you can't be in a hurry and while exploring you'll be happy you're taking your time. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the edge of town with spectacular views, small lakes, streams, and of course the explosion of color in autumn. The great thing about Boone is although it's bustling in town it doesn't take much to get away from the crowds. Travel 10miles in any direction and you can find a secluded piece of paradise all to yourself. There's one I visit often and I rarely see a sign of another human. 
Even though I'm alone I feel nature is my companion and I find her very entertaining.
 My only fear is that one day this place will be corrupted by greed.
I try to show my kids the wonders of this area and instill the importance of these places for our mental well being. In an ideal situation they can come here years later and have the same experiences I've had.
Until then I heart Boone.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Yellowstone Part 3

The amount of fishable water in Yellowstone is overwhelming. The places I wanted to make sure I fished were the Yellowstone River and the Lamar River. I was able to fish them both but I was unprepared for their conditions. From what I had read the rivers would be lower in July because most of the snow had melted. What I didn't realize is the amount of water that would still be there. I should have figured when I saw Yellowstone Falls.

It was running pretty good but I still didn't realize how fast the water was moving until I hiked to the bottom of the canyon. The river was probably the fastest and deepest river I've ever faced. It was a little scary. The footing on the sides of the river is smooth cobblestone like rocks and one slip could send you into the river and down the canyon. I'd like to make excuses like it was the time of day, location, or water conditions but the true answer is I was just unprepared. I didn't have any weight to speak of and most of my flies could not get to the proper depth to be effective. Before the hike down I cared so much about the placement of my bear spray that I didn't make sure I put back my tippet. I improvised and used streamers with big coneheads. They did the trick and got fish to move.

There were several follows slashes and even one fish coming almost to my feet but I couldn't hook any. I would only get one chance at the fish and then never see them again. It was fun to just see these big fish follow the fly. 
Fishing in the canyon is surreal. It's so beautiful and just walking 100yds up stream I found a hot spring that wasn't marked at all and leaking hot water into the river. It really shows you how wild and unpredictable this park can be. 

The Southwest part of the park is mostly geysers and hot springs. It definitely isn't a you've seen one geyser you've seen them all type of affair. All of them have something that makes them different and interesting. Places like the Grand Prismatic near the Firehole River look fake and seem like something you'd find at a theme park. 

Once you walk around this place you can truly feel that it is alive. This part of the park hits your senses with the rumbling of springs and geysers, smells of sulfur, feel of hot steam, and the visuals are striking.

I've seen tons of pictures of the Grand Prismatic hot spring but you have to see it in person to appreciate it. Even with the people falling over themselves to take pictures, ignoring the signs about touching the water, and just making stupid comments it's still a sight to behold. 

What I found interesting is in all the places where there was geothermal activity you'd see foot prints from bison. I learned from a ranger that the steam that comes from the hot springs is like a repellent for biting flies. This is why you'll see bison laying next to certain hot springs and geysers.

You can see some in the distance here laying next to the mud volcano area. You'll also see footprints where the bison have just trotted right threw a hot spring. I'm not sure if this is out of ignorance or they have a higher tolerance for pain.

The water in the hot springs is so clear you can make out every feature beneath the surface.

The colors around the springs usually indicate some bacteria living there. What's interesting is some of the bacteria are so fragile they can only live a certain distance from the hot spring. Any closer or further away and they will not survive. 

The landscape changes so much with these geysers and springs that the walkway traversing them needs to be moved from time to time. The ranger doing the tour at the Mud Volcano told us the path there had to be moved twice in the last 5 years. 

The steam in some areas was incredible. I felt like I was walking on another planet at times.

Can you imagine being the first people to stumble onto this place? I also wondered how much native americans and early settlers used these springs to keep warm in the winter months. Then there's the thought of how many people were hurt thinking hot springs were cool clear pools.

The most famous geyser is Old Faithful but it's actually not the tallest geyser in the park. The reason Old Faithful is so popular is because of its consistency. It goes off every 90min and the park has constructed a huge viewing area in front of it. 

This area is more like a village than an attraction. There's a Inn, lodge, and visitor's center. All are worth checking out. We ate at the Inn and the food was pretty good. I expected Disneyland prices but they weren't crazy. The visitor center is very cool and has huge windows facing Old Faithful. I'm not sure why you'd watch Old Faithful indoors. It's a lot better to see it outside.

If you can swing it come back and see Old Faithful at night. It's a different experience. Less people and sometimes photographers are there taking pictures and their flash lights up the geyser giving it a different perspective. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Yellowstone Part 2

Heading into Yellowstone around the lake I noticed there really isn't that much of a forest. Most of the park is meadows with brush and shrubs. It's like the high desert in California. Each section of the park has its own topography and things that make it unique. The wildlife resided more on the east and north side of the park while the south and west had more geothermal activity. This may have been due to time of year or the amount of tourists. There definitely was more people near the popular sites like Old Faithful and Mammoth Springs. What sets Yellowstone a part from other parks to me is the wildlife and how close you can get to it. 
Bison and elk often come with in feet of your car or where you're standing. It's easy to forget that these are wild animals that can kill you if they wanted to.
The bison dot the distance in Hayden and Lamar Valley. They roam all over the park and the large males walking next to your car will give you butterflies in your stomach. These animals are enormous with heads that seem to cover the expanse of your windshield. Several were ramming each other and fighting for dominance in the heard. It was cool to see but a little unnerving. Antelope seemed to use the bison as protection and would run in the middle of the herds.
Wildflowers were displaying in the mountain passes and all of the vegetation and trees looked very healthy.
Whenever you see people stopped on the side of the road you know it's most likely because some kind of wildlife is there. Usually it's an elk or bison but sometimes you get lucky and see a bear. We saw bear and wolves on this trip but they were so far away they could only be seen with binoculars. The treat for me was seeing some river otters. They were where Otter Creek met the Yellowstone River. I figured that creek was just named that way and didn't expect to actually see an otter. 

I could have spent my whole time in Lamar or Hayden Valley just watching the wildlife.
 To me that is what the main attraction of Yellowstone is. 
I know that's my own opinion and some people love the geysers but what's great about the valleys is they aren't that crowded and you feel like you're more in a wild setting. I think that's what keeps some people away. They think it's too dangerous and prefer the safe feeling and amenities of what the Old Faithful and Mammoth Springs villages provide. 

If you can try to check out Lamar or Hayden Valley at sunset.
More to come in my next post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Yellowstone Truly is Epic

Few places live up to the hype. Yellowstone National Park is one of those rare locations where the scenery really does look like the postcards or books you've read. The extraordinary times are when you find those beautiful places off the crowded trails and you get a little slice of awesomeness all to yourself. I didn't get to fish much on vacation but I did get to cast my line at big trout and see them chase streamers. It was exhilarating and in the environment of Yellowstone you can't be disappointed even when you're skunked. I can never fully describe how great Yellowstone is all I can say is everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. My pictures are crap to the real wonder and grandeur the park has to offer. The colors, textures and true beauty of the place can't be captured in photos and I think that's by God's plan. You can only really experience Yellowstone by being there in person.

I did weeks of research before we made our trip and I still feel like we missed out on some things. You can easily get overwhelmed with all there is to do and there is only so much time in a day. With kids you can only push so much before everyone including yourself is miserable. The car becomes a torture device and night becomes your enemy. The constant adherence to an agenda can make your trip feel like work instead of something to enjoy. Finding that balance is always a challenge I did my best to make it work. I believe we all had a vacation we'll remember for a lifetime and the sights we did see we may not fully appreciate until we have a fond memory years later.

We stayed in Cody just outside the park and it was a great location. The people were very friendly, deer passed by our place every day, and the smell of sulfur from geysers in Shoshone Canyon hit your nose when there was a breeze. The entrance to YNP was only 40min away.

As you head toward the park you'll hit the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. At one time this dam was the tallest in the world. Learning how this dam was built is very interesting. It was started in 1910 during the winter and no steel was used in its constructions.
It was the model for the Hoover Dam later and was created using rocks from the canyon with concrete. The winter made it hard for the concrete to cure so the workers covered the dam with tarps and used steam to keep the temperature up. Here's a link about the dam if you want more info.

Leaving the reservoir you drive through Wapiti Valley where the views are breath taking with rock formations like nothing you'll find in Yellowstone.
Cliffs and crags line the horizon all around and every turn has another amazing view.
Most of these rock formations have names and we bought a book at the Buffalo Bill Dam that pointed them out. It was a fun activity for the family. 
The goose or Bart Simpson riding his skateboard.
Driving through the East entrance of Yellowstone you go over a pass and see your first glimpse of Yellowstone Lake
The picture in no way captured how awesome this view is. The water is a turquoise blue and has a major contrast to the green of the grass. I'm no sure what is going on with the forest around this area. I'm not sure if this is the result of a fire or some other phenomenon. Going down to the lake we saw our first geyser and bison. 

I'll continue the rest in the following post.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Dry Shake Accident

I found one way to keep the inside of my slingpack dry. Leave some dry shake partially open. Your pack will stay annoyingly dry for what seems like an eternity. I used to like dry shake and feel it was God's gift to fishermen. Now every time I reach in my pack to get something my hand feels desiccated. I can't do anything else until I wet it. I haven't dunked the whole slingpack in the water yet but the idea is very tempting. Just a friendly reminder to make sure whatever you use to keep your flies dry stays secure or outside of your pack.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Eno Jewels

Yesterday I hit the Eno to get some time on the water and try out a 7wt I haven't fished. The water was low and clear but the fish were very eager. Caught a few sunfish and one rare Roanoke Bass. 

It was a great day and I was happy to find fish in spite of all the swimmers. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Yellowstone Planning

My obsession with finding out everything that is Yellowstone National Park began a few weeks ago. I can map out most of the park in my head and I've memorized most of the popular streams. I'm looking forward to the wildlife and my kids experiencing Yellowstone for the first time. I went once when I was 15 and it is still one of my fondest memories. I didn't fish at all when I visited last and I won't make that mistake again. I've contacted several fishing outfitters in the are and even have a nice back and forth with the guide from EastGateAnglers. Youtube videos are my new vice and I can't seem to get enough of watching different Yellowstone fishing videos. This one in particular is disgustingly good.
The main issue I have is I don't know how much fishing I'll get to do. The plan is for the family to cruise into Yellowstone spend two days camping in the park then commute back and forth from Cody, WY after that. Most of my fishing opportunities will be based on what's available as we're exploring. I'm excited about this but I'm sure I'll miss out on some prime fishing and I can live with that. At least I think I can as of today. When I started my research the amount of fishing you can do in Yellowstone overwhelmed me. It still kind of does. There is so much fishable water you could probably spend a month in this park and fish a different creek each day and not fish half of what's available. My fly boxes are over flowing and I'm prepared for any situation. Reading the regulations I found it interesting how much emphasis there is on killing non-native species in certain areas of the park. They really don't want you letting anything go that isn't a cutthroat. The lengths are pretty drastic even so much as taking non-cuttthroat fish and throwing them away in the trash at the trail entrance. The fall back is if you don't know what the fish is let it go and I'm sure many anglers use that excuse to release whatever they catch. It's going to be hard having a mindset that anything I catch that isn't a cutthroat I'm going to destroy when I have fished thinking the opposite for so long.

As I have gotten older I've definitely become a lot more paranoid. I worry about the worst that can happy a lot more than I used to. My new concerns are buffalo running into our car or a random bear encounter. From what I've researched both are fairly rare and can be avoided. I have never seen a bear in the wild which I've always found strange with how much time I've spent outdoors. I've been in locations where they were prevalent but never seen them. I'm hoping to see my first in Yellowstone but at a distance. I'll worry about what I can control for now. We hit the park later this month.

If there's anyone that's thinking about going to Yellowstone or just curious about planning I've found these sites to be great for information.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Father & Son Camping trip

My wife was doing a girls thing with some friends and my daughter. I decided to do the same with my son and go camping. It was a lot of work and I'm not sure I'd do it again with just the two of us but we had a good time. 
A creek ran right next to our campsite and we hiked between the times we played in the water. 
The campground we stayed at is called Stone Mountain State Park. The camp sites are very nice with great restrooms and shower facilities. There is easy access to hikes and fishing around the park. The views form the top of Stone Mountain are beautiful.
There's also several hikes that lead to waterfalls. We did the lower falls hike where there's a huge staircase leading to the bottom of the falls.
I found the engineering of the staircase about as impressive as the falls themselves.
The park is at a higher elevation but it was unusually warm this last weekend. The night was a little brutal. Even with a small thunder shower the temperature and humidity didn't drop much. The weather kept us in the shade and in the creek and we made the most of it. 
I'm sure I'll be back here again soon with the family.