Tuesday, August 23, 2011

North of south

Somewhere north of Wyoming and south of Canada sits this. It's an adventure, and quite a destination. Not another angler for miles. The catching left something to be desired, but the trip did not. Anybody got a guess as to what creek it is?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'Tis better to fish alone...

...than wish you were. I have fished with no one but my dog for the past three weeks, and I can't complain.
You get first shot at the water, you choose where to go and when you want to leave, and your day won't be ruined by being out-fished (common occurrence around here).
Fishing buddies are good to have and important, but not just anyone with a fly rod will do. Most of us who fish hard are somewhat selective regarding with whom we will fish. I have an outstanding group of fishing buddies, but when they're busy - that's cool too.
One problem, however, is that you usually don't get the photos you'd like (see below). It's often the fish-on-the rocks-compared-to-the-net or -rod, or just the fish's head, or the fish in your hand as it droops away from the camera.

Incidentally, today I found a nice little spot where hoppers are working like gangbusters, far from the unending pelotons of the major rivers. I've never skittered so much - they would slash at it, then slash again. Then, they'd swipe at it, then slash at it another time or two. Eventually, you'd hook a fish. Makes me wonder if they were keyed on craneflies - I noticed a couple big ones.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little People

Crow Indian legend tells of foot-and-a-half tall dwarfs with pot bellies and no necks, that are incredibly strong with razor-sharp teeth called Nirumbee or AwwakkulĂ© (little people or spirit dwarves). They supposedly steal children, rip hearts out of horses, and shoot arrows with pinpoint precision, among other terrifying pastimes. They are also said to bless certain people, manifesting as lone animals to issue their benediction. These monsters are said to live in Montana's Pryor Mountains. Now ya tell me. 

There is actual physical evidence of these Western desert goblins - several mummified corpses have been found over the years (about which scientists disagree) and there have been modern sightings by respected locals. Seriously.
This maybe explains the uneasy feeling I had Saturday atop the Pryor Mountains and my urge to flee before I rupture a tire and get marooned in the barren desert of sage and juniper. But as I sat there, eating a ham sandwich and drinking a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale weighing my options, something appeared in the gully below me. It was a wild mustang - one of the horses from the Pryor Mountain wild horse herd.
 Quickly, three more popped out from behind a juniper bush, as if they were cavalry to defend the lone horse when I loudly cleared my throat to elicit a response for a photo.

I've never gotten particularly excited about horses, but there's something about the free spirits of these beasts that captivates me. I admire their lifestyle. They live oblivious to anything modern, on their own schedule answering only to themselves. No fences, no saddles, no shoes, no hay. It's a beautiful idea and I'm glad it still exists (not sure why other wildlife doesn't elicit this reaction in me - something about the spirit of these horses).

All the horses have been named. Here, I've been informed, is Jumping Badger (far left), Sitting Bull (brown horse on top, a stallion - possibly the sire of JB and Inniq, far right - I'm not sure), Cecelia (black in front - dam of JB and ...) and Inniq, (3-year-old black colt, far right).

The Pryor Mountains are remote - the Centennial Valley has nothing on the Pryors. Which makes the absolutely awful "road" through the range (Sykes Ridge Road) all the more harrowing. It's really more of a custom-Jeep or 4-wheeler trail.

Click to enlarge for full effect.
Close-up of the road. Not suitable for sedans.

Click to enlarge. Even the roads en route to the wild horse range are remote. Also, beautiful.
I avoided the spirit dwarfs, but I cannot say the same for the prairie rattlesnakes. Ten minutes prior to this photo, my dog and I hiked right through the trail where we found this guy. Maybe I received a blessing after all.
Dear snake, thanks for the warning and the photo op. Sincerely, Josh.
I returned to the norm this morning, fishing West Rosebud Creek and the Stillwater River on my way home. Nice to be fishing again, but I'll remember the mystique of the Pryors.

Links of note:
A PBS documentary on the wild horses
Another excellent PBS documentary
Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center
Little People wikipedia
More on the Little People
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