Sunday, February 19, 2012

February in the Flatland

Sometimes the events of a fishing trip need time to settle or be digested. I need time to take in all that was witnessed. During the trip, I am so focused that my short term memory goes into hibernation and my long term memory is used as backup where the details will be visited later. The short days of winter seem to speed up time and before I know it, the setting sun is there to remind me that I must go home.
Today was one of those days winter days where you work to find fish. It is the period of the year in which I hope for more fish, but I am happy to catch a few. I have the child like anticipation of the spring hatches that still seem so far away coupled with the excitement of curing the cabin fever that makes me mope around my house. It is a different time of the year to fish; a time where even the landscape seems lonely.
The day started with two tactics: I would “chuck and duck” a large streamer on sinking line and Mike would go low and slow with a nymph. The water was beautiful with quite a bit of current. I quickly remembered why I do not enjoy casting sinking line in tight quarters. It was not pretty, nor was it all that productive.  I was able to raise one good fish, but I was not able to get a good hook set and my dreams of raising a leviathan from the depths had quickly died.
After a change of fly rods, Mike and I searched for slower waters and some familiar fish. We discussed the hatches of the spring. We hoped to find a few fish sipping on the many midges that were out and about. We spoke of hendricksons, sulphers and march browns. We whined about the cold water that had found the holes in our waders. We planned a few road trips to fishy destinations. It was a productive ride.
We were soon at destination and searching for fish. I had shed the cumbersome sinking line for my much lighter and delicate three weight while Mike continued to cast his small rod. We filmed and worked the familiar spots searching for a willing trout. It took too long to find them, but we managed enough to satisfy ourselves until the next trip. It was a good day that ended much too early.  It was a day that included a mink, a giant owl, a groundhog, a few small browns, and the fellowship fine friend. It was a day of cold fingers and wet feet. It was a day to be thankful for the trout waters of this flatland.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Little Fly Tying Philosophy

     I was asked the other day if I was an innovative fly tyer. I was not sure how to answer that question. I was then asked if I had designed any specific patterns that were unique to the areas that I fish. Again, I had no answer. After thinking about it, I replied by describing myself as a lazy fly tyer; a procrastinator. I tie when I am in the mood or when I have to get ready for a trip. I am more of a “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” fly tyer.
     I have never been accused of being a fantastic fly tyer. When I first started tying almost twenty years ago, I tied all kinds of crazy flies. I had boxes filled with flies of all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes. I thought I needed to cover every possibility in my preparation for a fishing trip. And yet, I never seemed to have the one fly that perfectly matched what was hatching. I would run home after each trip and tie what I saw hatching. I wanted to discover and tie the next “classic pattern.” I was a mess.
     In my quest for the perfect fly, I was constantly tying new flies and variations of classic patterns in search of that irresistible fly that would catch fish on every occasion. It was my friend Larry that finally settled my tying nerves. We fished together constantly. As I rifled through my boxes in search of “that” bug, he patiently continued to cast an elk hair caddis. While he fished with one fly all day-and caught fish, I went through fifty yards of tippet in search of the perfect imitation.
     It was on one of our many trips that I finally gave up and just tied on a parachute Adams. I had had enough of the searching and retying. I was sick of trying to see my microscopic offerings as they meandered by. I was sick of watching fish rise around me and not being able to find the answers in my box of flies. I was going to fish with this fly and fail or not fish at all. That successful afternoon led to an epiphany that would completely change my attitude about flies and fly tying.
     Through much trial and error- okay, more error than trials- I have settled with six go to flies that take up space in my box. They will cover any and every situation that I have encountered. I trust these flies and I have faith that they will work. They are my confidence flies and if I present them correctly they will catch fish. More importantly, most of them are easy to tie! These proven patterns are no secret. They range from fur ants to elk hair caddis, from the copper john to the trusty parachute Adams. They have and continue to fill the boxes of many successful fly fishers. There is no need for me to reinvent the wheel.
     I will admit that I have tweaked a recipe now and then and that I have even simplified some of these flies to suit my own needs. However, I will never be accused of being innovative. I tie flies to catch fish. Sure, it is more rewarding to catch fish on flies you tie, but I have never been nor will I ever be one to spend mass amounts of money and time on the bench. Don’t get me wrong, I truly admire those that continue to create magnificent patterns. I marvel at the beauty and efficiency of their creations. I am jealous of their skills and tools. They are artist. Me? I am merely a fisherman. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Clear Creek and A New Friend

The internet can be a peculiar place. You never know who you are going to meet. I have made a few friends because of the internet and lost a few as well. Today, I made a friend. In November, I posted a link to my blog on a fishing website. One of the guys that responded to this thread was a gentleman named Bruce. Bruce was impressed with the fact that we had caught a few fish on Clear Creek. I sent him a private message and told him that I would be more than happy to meet him there and show him a few spots that have always produced fish for me.
Friday, Bruce sent me another message telling me he would be fishing Clear Creek. He  wanted to know if I was free. Mike and I had planned to fish and we soon made plans to meet Bruce at the park. Unfortunately, Mike was having some car trouble and I was off to fish on my own. My wife was convinced that Bruce was an axe murderer and told me to be careful.
I arrived at the park and found Bruce in the parking lot. He looked like a pleasant man and I did not see an axe in his vehicle- so good, so far. We quickly introduced ourselves and were off in search of trout. He told me where he had fished and I promised to show him a few spots that he had not fished. We were soon parked and headed to one of my favorite holes.  Bruce told me he had fished this whole and warned me of his clumsiness and his casting.
We casted and chatted our way through the run until I finally found a willing fish.  However, it was only one fish and the footprints along the bank let us both know that we were not the only people to fish this stretch today. It was time for a move.
We made our way back to the car and were soon on the road to some water that Bruce had never seen. I told him that this was the prettiest spot in the park and he agreed. We walked our way up as far as we could and began our descent through some pretty fishy looking water.  It did not take long to find fish in this stretch. I quickly hooked up with two on consecutive casts and soon had Bruce fishing the same seam searching for his first fish of the day. He missed a couple before finally settling his hook into a healthy brown. His excitement put a smile on my face. I was satisfied and happy for his success.
We worked our way back to the car. I lost a few more and Bruce hooked up with another pretty brown. Evening had come without warning and our day was soon over.  It was a great day. The weather was gorgeous, the trout were cooperative and I made a new friend.