Thursday, September 26, 2019

Below the bridge

I parked next to a bridge over a spring creek yesterday where I had spotted fish in the past, but I didn't see any. Until I did - it must have been 20 inches and was definitely fat. It was sipping near a cutbank almost directly under the bridge. So I literally sprinted back to my car, wadered up, strung up the rod with a medium purple hopper, and jostled down the opposite bank (the knee-deep shit-storm from the muck was okay because I'd skillfully entered the creek downstream of the fish). I got into position then took a minute to slow down. I didn't want to go home mad at myself...

No time for good photos!
...I tossed a decent cast in the realm of the fish...

Slurp. But instead of a 20-incher, it was a 10-inch brown trout. So I trudged off in defeat, taking one last look over the bridge on my way back to the car. Grandpa was still there! I assumed the two fish wouldn't coexist, but the splishing apparently didn't bother the elder trout. So I ran back down and tried again... Then went home in defeat.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

To decide in September

It's the time of year when the trout have to decide if they want hoppers or streamers. I had to decide if I wanted to wet wade or wear waders. My body then had to decide if it wanted to acclimate or go hyperthermic. Ben had to decide if he wanted to approach a trout with a baetis nymph or a hopper. We collectively had to decide if we wanted to stay despite the big ones having moved on. Then we had to decide which beer. Meanwhile elk bugled, leaves turned, the sun fell and we drove home.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Quit job, gone fishing

After 12 years, I’d had it. I gave my notice and I'm now unemployed. At least for the time being I’m back to being my happy ditzy self.
First thing we did was pack up for Wyoming. We spent time on the Hoback, Granite Creek, the East Fork and the upper Green River, among other places. But I think we each caught two fish after four solid days of fishing.

Wild and Scenic Granite Creek.
So we stopped at the fly shop to mine some intel. A tan-lined guide explained that it wasn’t us - fishing had been tough lately - and graciously offered a couple of bumpy two-tracks where there should be small, hungry trout. He also explained that the trout in a favorite local lake, that holds some huge ones, were not chasing streamers this year because the state didn't stock it with the fingerlings that typically serve as prey for the predators. But an Australian gentleman camped at the boat ramp said the risers were chasing something out there - could’ve been those longhorn sedges. Or damselflies. But I digress.
I got some revenge on the way home, at Grand Teton National Park. We parked on a turnout on a gravel road north of Moose so I could hike down to some braids. The water was low and I had to hike a ways to find the first spot to fish. But it was a good spot - eight to 10 lengthy cutthroats cruising a random, short lakey stretch. I wasn't confident, but as I was keeping an eye on one particular trout, another sneaked up and slurped my "Thunder Thighs" hopper.

Fine-spotted, but spotless. 

After getting organized back at home, I thought I'd go check out a lake in the Tobacco Roots I hadn't yet been to. I'd heard from some friends that they like it better than Lake Louise, which is quite a recommendation.

Alas, about 15 minutes into my hike I was confronted with a decision – go back to the trailhead for my rod or forgo fishing. I opted to keep hiking, being that I didn’t have much time and one of my dogs tries to bite every cast anyway. But when I got to this beautiful steep-walled tarn, I decided to find a stick with some taper, tied a leader of 3x to 4x to 5x, put on a hopper and threw it up into the wind that delivered my fly to the water about 10 feet off the shore. Unbelievably, I had four eats and actually landed one 10-inch neon-pink cutthroat. There seemed to be anabatic winds pushing ants, beetles and grasshoppers onto the water, and the fish were stupid.

Koda, no. Good boy.
The following day I fished an old favorite - the kind of place there are so many hoppers dashing from stem to stem you can confuse it for a spooked moose. But I only caught one small cutthroat, so I headed over to the Plan B River and quickly landed what was likely my last hopper-caught trout of 2019. But it was a pissed-off 18-inch brown, which was a day-maker. I sped home to spend the rest of the afternoon with my lovely wife, whose kindness and grace allows me these adventures (in other words, if she calls me off the river, I come a-runnin).

I wish they all could be hopper season 2019. 
So unemployment is going okay. Actually, I'm living my best life, and trying to figure out how to tell Liz that I'm retiring for good. Any thoughts?