Monday, October 31, 2011

And the nominees are…

As usual it takes me a while to get certain things in life accomplished. It has taken me a while to search through a number of blogs and select the ones that I think fit the Versatile Blogger award. Please forgive me if I have missed anyone that feels they are worthy of this award. My blog doesn’t get much recognition and admittedly I will have to do much better at promotions.

Nominations for The Versatile Blog Award:

Run-a-roundranch is a great example of both a quality blog and blogger. Her photography is very impressive as well as versatile in subject matter. This is a blog that is vastly growing in popularity and well deserved.

I am selecting Cofisher because he is a heck of a good guy and an avid blogger. His interviews are great along with his unique perspective in regards to Colorado and fishing. The fact Howard even puts up with my blog at all is huge for me.

Bill Trussell, Fishing Through Life

Bill is versatile in his fishing ability as well as the species he targets. Warm water bass, cold-water trout and crappie slabs doesn’t even scratch the surface. I recommend following Bill to get a glimpse of him fishing through life.

Little Messy Missy

This girl does it all and is pretty kick ass. Her blog has everything from gardening, chickens and the occasional tasty dish mixed with artistic photographs. Even though I don’t comment as much as I should on her blog, the inspiration derived is as good as gold.

Here is someone versatile in life as much as her blog. Family, food, humor and a positive word now and then are what make this blog worth the views.

It is highly encouraged that recipients of blogger awards follow the spirit of sharing with other bloggers. The Versatile Blogger Award requests the following:

  1. Post your acceptance\acknowledgement of the reward on your blog. Adding the image to you overall layout is a nice touch as well.
  2. Tell 10 things about yourself that your readers may not know about you and your blog.
  3. Nominate 7 other blogs for this Versatile Blogger Award. This can be far more of a challenge than one might suspect. Hopefully no one is upset by my selections or non-selections as it were. All of the blogs I follow are pretty fantastic but may or may not be as versatile.

There were a lot of people that were contemplated for this award and I struggled quite a bit with the acceptance, selection and then awarding others part. Originally I said that I was only going to nominate 5 blogs but still reserving the right to award 2 more if they would check their e-mails for my accept or reject e-mail.

Bloggers may reject, refuse or otherwise not acknowledge this or other awards from ColoradoCasters. Blog award rules and regulations that are broken, disregarded or violations that arise from said broken rules will have to be settled in blog court I guess.

A huge thanks goes out to all that stop by and view my blog. Your comments, views and rates mean far more to me than you know. I wish you all the very best.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bass of October

Colorado bass action changes quickly in the fall months. Forage base in October dwindles along with water temperature. Most spawning in lowland lakes has run its course for warm water species and the clouds of fry have been hammered. Shad die off may be present allowing some of the largest fish to gorge on a bounty of easy fish. In fact this time of year is a do or die situation and 90% of everything born this year just flat out won’t make it through fall to see winter. Even less of these creatures will see spring in 2012.

(Above: Right before the camera takes the shot I look up to see someone throw a stick in the water for their dog to go splooshing after. Normally it doesn’t bother me but I hadn’t fish that area yet.)

October is generally the month where the lure retrieve slows way down and I rely on both baitfish and creature presentations depending on the lake. This body of water has sunfish and bluegill but crawdads, frogs or even salamanders are also on the menu this time of year. For this trip I had the 7’ fast action rod working spinnerbaits and crankbaits while the 6’-6” medium heavy was rigged with the jig combo. In this case, a 1/4oz skirted jig with 4” grub trailer was used after getting a light splash of scent spray. Scent spray is something I like to use on the warm water scene when temperatures drop and fish lips get a little frigid as well.

The fish pictured above hit a lazy jig combo that was given a bump, stop-don’t move, wait and then wait some more action on the dirt bottom. This lure received roughly 60% of the hits but the option the larger fish seemed to prefer. The RatL trap in darker colors was second in action but more or less slowed me down with smaller fish. I didn’t expect the spinnerbait in bass\greensunfish to zero out. This was supposed to be my oversize, go-getum pattern but they just weren’t interested. With more patience and experimentation I probably could have worked this out.

(Above: Bluegill and sunfish are moving deeper and getting more difficult to find. Still happy to see them though especially in October. Catching this fish reulted in me throwing a dark green spinnerbait for another hour.)

The weight of the fish also perplexed me as I generally expect to catch fish heavy in the belly this time of year. The fish above was 20-inches in length but only read 3.8lb on the digital scale I almost never use. That is a about a pound shy of where this fish should be and surprising considering the amount of forage available. Without a sufficient buildup of fat a fish may not survive the winter.

Weather for the day was about as good as it gets for this time of year. Wind was stable for a change and didn’t try to push me around too much. I would still find myself up against the tree line or hiding behind ledges that blocked the wind and left slack water behind them. The water was slightly stained which makes the fish less nervous under clear blue skies.
(Above: Probably could have lived without this fish picture in the post but my second largest fish of the day.)

All in all this was a not too shabby bass day. Numbers were good for October even if the fish seemed a bit on the light side. Hopefully they can step up their game and the things I learned on this day help me step up mine. There are a few fat fish in here and with a little more work and patience they just might make the next photo op.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Photos from the field

Through my adventures photos are taken that never seem to make it into specific fish posts. So much of my fishing goes unseen or heard. Even though these pictures may not be ready for prime time fishing posts, I have found a way to fit them in an excerpt called “Photos from the field.”

Spikes of whisker

(Above: This furry leaf muncher looks like it is armed with sharp spikes. Sometimes nature gives creatures a defense that looks more lethal than it really is. Spikes of whisker may be more façade than reality but surprisingly the illusion works well until a bird is brave enough to take a taste. Not sure whether it is coming or going, Most eaters of bugs move on in confusion rather than gambling with a stab to make sure.)

Green Hopper

(Above: Stumbling along the trail on my way back to the truck I come across a stubby green hopper looking for a suitable place to lay eggs. Not the perfect light angle for the shot but the best I could do that the time. “Don’t press your luck, fella” was written all over her face.)

Deer don’t give fishing tips

(Above: I am not a big fan of spectators while I am fishing but will often ask a few of the locals for tips if the chance arises. Even though this local didn’t exactly fit the bill of an experienced angler I thought it would be worth the time to ask. “Struggling on this water today. No hits. What do you usually throw in this stretch?” She didn’t say a word. “I don’t blame you for not telling me. I wouldn’t tell me either.” Not so much as a grin. This just wasn’t my week with the ladies.)

Fish at my feet

(Above: There are moments when I am swinging to the fence for fish and they just laugh at me. If I would simply just take a deep breath and slow down I would often see that the fish are just below my feet. The next thing to remember is that they will often see me before I see them.)

Lost hero

(Above: Ok is it just me or does this rock formation look possibly like some sort of statue that was toppled or unfinished? Basically a torso but so well defined that it makes me wonder if this was from a wannabe Michelangelo on a field trip or Mother Nature just showing off a little. No photo shop trickery here either. Bad photography? Yes.)

Never got the epic fall shot this year. Standing amidst the 24karot gold skyline I could barely catch my breath enough to take the picture. Time is fleeting and before we know it the Cold Three will be upon us. I am doing my best to make the best of fall fishing while keeping everything else somewhat nailed down.

Thank you so much for your views, comments and rates. This blog is fueled by your support. 

Good luck and good fishing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crisp Canyon Run

Heading over the pass of the great vertical divide and the thermometer was telling me things that my brain just didn’t want to accept quite yet. Digital readouts of 18 and 20 degrees were met with scoffs or otherwise disbelief. I had seen the frosty situation reports of the high country but was still riding daily conditions in the lowland metro. This time of year there can easily be 20 degrees difference between the two. The recent high’s of 65 and lows of 40 in the valley seem downright tropical for Colorado in October. Now my butt is in the high country hoping my two-layer setup is going to handle the first few hours.

Rolling into the canyon I see heavy frost on the sagebrush and mist coming off the water like spirits of all the anglers that made this trek before me. The only thing saving the landscape from a blanket of snow right now is crystal clear blue sky.

“Oh things are starting out crisp.” I exclaim jumping out of the truck to grab an extra layer of neoprene waders knowing that trips will only get colder from here on out.

Hike in and start the search casting. First I throw directly in front of me and then to the sides before stepping into the water to reach the other shoreline. A decent fish hits the lure and I try to do the solo photo op thing. This is where I try to set the camera up on time delay and try to get the fish to cooperate for about 10 seconds. This may be a lot like diapering a baby after you both have had about 4 cups of coffee (analogies are something that I just come up with. Don’t question my parenting skills by what I write on my blog). Just as soon as I think things are going smooth…the fish flips its tail fin and gets the camera lens wet. This happens far more than I would like to admit.
(Above: First fin slapper on the bait and wait stretch. Photo op loses a few points with the water droplet on the lens. The fish probably chuckled a bit when I let it go.)

Work the first part of the stretch with ho-hum results. I start experimenting with colors and size of lure. Wandering around through the tackle box choices only lands me in no-luck city (Ideally I try not to work too much viable water without developing some sort of game plan before moving on). Eventually I have to stick with the brown trout patterns that are picking up bites here and there. The daylight clock is ticking. Hopefully I stumble on the flavor of the day later on.

“Lingered too long already in this stretch.” My lips murmur the words on frosty breath while eyeing the shoreline behind me for spot jumpers. “Stick and move.”

Get into the second stretch and sunlight is coming up over the mountains but not quite falling into the canyon surrounded by steep walls of rock, heavy pine or scraggly brush. Areas of lush grass where the water goes flat are rare here but they do exist. Trout prefer areas where they can feed in water that is not all fast and furious. Cast, cast, cast. Plink a little fish. Cash, cast, stick and move. Next rock I reach has a soft ripple behind it. The rock is actually submerged so you don’t exactly see it at first glance. The soft ripple isn’t obvious in the large section of flat water but too perfect to pass up. Cast a few yards upstream and pick my line of retrieve. As soon as the lure gets into the riffle I feel the heavy thump-thump of that tugalicious fish love.

Trout in rivers give a different fight than that of fish in lakes. River fish use the current of the water to add tension onto the line. At times they will use the current to burrow themselves more or less on the bottom making you work extra hard to pull them up. This fish used all of those tricks even though it is only 14 or 15 inches. Go for the photo op and what do you know? It starts flipping two seconds into it. At that point I just let it go along with a lot of other fish caught that day.

(Above: This fish will indeed be very huge one day if allowed to grow into its dot pattern. Sometimes you have to respect a fish for it would could it be.)

Sunlight finally graces the canyon. I hold my fingers in the rays to gather warmth rather than pulling out light gloves tucked in the top of my waders. This is the moment I had planned for. This is where I run the gold and red pattern knocking them dead. Things rarely go as I plan. No love on gold and flashy. Eventually I am falling on one pattern that is getting bites. Not consistent bites but the only thing that was getting any real action at the party. The rest of the day I go into full out “plink and go” mode with one color, one size on one rod.

“Run it top, middle and deep.” I mumble in a blur stepping to the next hole trying to solve the riddle of the water for big fish. “Cut through the front, run through the middle and drift long in the current. Wish I knew what they really wanted.”

(Above: Finally a fish willing to lay down and do the photo op. Some fish are ok with it but most trout don’t dig it whatsoever. Hurtin’ the fish aint worth it. Pick the right fish and play it gentle for the photo op.)

Once upon a time this run was somewhat of a secret to Frances and folks like Mountain Goat Keith. By noon there were several spot jumpers around me working for fish. Most worked the water in silence letting me pass by them with a quiet nod. One trail stumbler stops to zip up a few open pockets on what looks like a 3-Day backpack.

“What they biting on?” he asks with a crooked grin that is missing one tooth.

“Stick and move…” I reply making the slim corner on the steep trail. “That was the only thing that worked for me today.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

Monday, October 17, 2011

ColoradoCasters receives “Versatile Award”

I am very much honored to receive this award from Priyanka over at and truly thankful. Getting an award from the blogger community is something that I have weighed with mostly anticipation but also a little dread depending on the award. The term versatile fits this blog really well making this award very appropriate and I can’t think of a fitting first blog award.

Let’s face it my blog would never receive “Most Advanced” or “Coolest Layout” accolades but you have to admit that for being such a fishing nut my blog is in fact very versatile in both material as well as fishing. And that really is the key to getting folks to stop by on a regular basis. If ColoradoCasters were nothing but shameless bragging people wouldn’t tolerate my lack of useful information. The sense of adventure, the occasional rant, bad artwork, crazy fish theories and random photos make it all just a bit more worthwhile. With the amount of effort put forth you would think this blog would crazy fishing blog would be far more popular. Unfortunately my lack of marketing and promotion more or less makes me my own worst enemy when it comes to things like format updates or even blog rolls. So when Priyanka gave me this award it was a most welcome sight. Once again, thank you.

Awards also come with requirements and this one is no exception. Being somewhat of a rebel I am going to have to alter the nomination amount to five blogs and name the selection in an upcoming post. To help make up for my lack of award nominees I will say 10 ten things about myself that people may be surprised to know (The official requirements are to nominate 15 blogs and say 7 things. Hopefully no one sues in me blogger court for doing something else).

  1. For a living I am currently a Project Manager\engineer in the field of telecommunications. The job is demanding but the technology is something that makes it a fascinating challenge every day.
  2. I used to hunt but now have chosen to primarily fish. I still defend the rights of responsible hunters in this country.
  3. My fly-fishing skills need more work than even my own blog suggests.
  4. I cooked my way through college at various restaurants in Colorado.
  5. Besides working in Colorado I have spent two years working just outside of Salt Lake City Utah.
  6. Born in Idaho and have lived in Montana, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and have spent a bit of time in California, Washington, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and even Kansas. But spent very little time east of Nebraska.
  7. My behavior is often reckless but for the most part I am neat and organized.
  8. My claims of Blackfoot heritage are greatly exaggerated and completely unsubstantiated. But being born in the town originally named “Eagle Rock”, I sometimes try to acknowledge 0.02% Native American Black foot Tribe heritage with no government or tribal benefits. Some things you just feel.
  9. Boxers over briefs.
  10. I spend more time fishing than even my blog suggests.

If you get time, please visit and say hello. One of my favorite things about the blog format is that it helps you connect with so many people across the world with so many interests with more to say than just a tweet here and there.

My name is Matt and I just got the “Versatile Blog” Award!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bought and sold-Christo’s crazy vision moves forward

Two leases approved by the BLM brush aside a few of the last hurdles standing in the way of Christo and his art project. Basically it’s a done deal. When I first read about crazy Christo and this whacked out vision of his, it seemed absolutely laughable. He could have picked many other places with far less fragile habitat but he seemed hell bent on draping crap over a 45-mile section of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Christo along with a few powerful friends from the east coast had meetings with various agencies such as Colorado Department of Natural Resources and it was clear that any and all concerns could be brushed aside with money.

Colorado’s DNR apparently is willing to sell out to the highest bidder and catering far more to people with money than should be tolerated. I could list at least 10 sections of other water that would suit this project far better than here. A few of these areas were brought to the table of discussion but Christo pretty much stuck with this area saying something like, “Naw. I am pretty set on @#$& up this spot.”

There are a lot of reasons why this location is one of the worst choices Christo could make. Drilling and setting up all of those cables is just the start. The narrow canyon will have a tough time accommodating a large volume of construction and traffic. I expect this to become a nightmare for motorists most of the time. Sadly the cool canyon cruise will be reduced to a stop and go lookie lou situation for quite a long period during both construction and as long as the project is up.

(Above: The red circles indicate proposed areas for the project. Christo will tell you it is only 6 accumulative miles affected. However the entire project will take place roughly over a 50-mile stretch of canyon.)

Not saying this project couldn’t have been built in Colorado and 50 million bucks in overall budget (which will most likely run over that amount like all projects do) is very hard to turn down in this economy. The boost of commerce to the region is a huge blessing for the community with revenues that they most likely wouldn’t see otherwise. Um, 26,000 for schools though is pretty lame compensation in my view but the increase in sales tax will help fund education in this area further. That is the silver lining here and it would admittedly be hypocritical of me to overlook this aspect. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of good that will come out of this. It just stinks that some nutball from the east coast can come to Colorado and pretty much have his way with anything he wants as long as he has the money to placate. It’s not the worst thing that ever happened and heaven help the Arkansas if anything goes wrong. Like the goats and fish there is not much I can to do but ride this fiasco out.

In the meantime I’ll send a few e-mails and phone calls out asking for more in ways of fish remediation and habitat improvements. The only way I am going to feel better about this whole thing is if we kick this Christo guy so deep in the moneybags that he never does an art project around fish again.

Below are a few link references especially to the ROAR website. These folks have been centralizing the focus and putting up a great fight. There is a lot of information for those that want to read more.

Good luck and heaven help the Arkansas River

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Big fish water-Ho Hum Expectations

Colorado has a lot of fishing options with big fish potential. Reaching these areas may require some planning and a long drive. As we roll into fall a few of these “big fish waters” start nagging on my casting elbow. The lid was lifted slightly on one spot from two angles. The BLM fences were removed and a few signs were cemented in place that stated, “Hey! You can fish here!!! Go on ahead!” When these things happen a time clock starts ticking and true fishing quality in my view diminishes greatly. People start pressuring fish and taking fish out.  

“Man, I have to get in there and fish that spot!” I mumbled through most of September.

Finally the planets align and things at work open a window for a weekday PTO (Paid Time Off) fishing excursion. Loading up the truck in the dark I make off for one of my few solo runs on the western side of the mountains. After three hours I arrive at the gravel road and then park at the faded trailhead parking area. The sun has cleared the mountains and I get a full view of the landscape where deciduous river basin meets cliffs of sage. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as my eyes surveyed the fish battleground below.

“Oh this is going to be sweet.” My lips mumble as daydreams of enormous fish run through my mind. “I’m going to nail something big out of here for sure!”

The cliff dive to the water edge is a bit extreme on this fishing spot so the walk in is done with caution or repelling gear. Making it to the bottom with both ankles deserves a pat on the back before moving through a small strip of dense foliage that guards the river.

Like most good fishing spots nature has hidden this one fairly well with it’s hard to reach location. I liken this to a naturally fortified position that is easily defended. Once you find the trail that leads to the back of hell’s gates there remains a light infantry of tall grass and a thick tree line that stands as strong as any heavy cavalry. The only way to wade through it is by small careful steps and well placed feet. Weaving your fishing rod through the myriad of branches almost resembles swordplay in some fashion. At this point I should mention there is also an easy-peasy trail to the right that takes you straight to the rollover once you reach the bottom of the cliff. There is a fence and field crossing that I am not sure is 100% kosher so I still take the “foliage front line” head on. The end result is the same and I wind up at the rollover with a better view of the small public access stretch overall.

“Made it.” That was all I said lifting the light pack off my shoulders, unzipped the top and pulled out the waders.

Dressed for fish battle I set the gear for recon mode. This means throwing out fall colors in yellow, brown or gold in two lure types. One rod is set with minnow and the other is set with jig. I work the entire water column within the first one hundred feet with three basic color patterns. Nothing.

“Guess I will cross the moat and battle the thicket.” The trepidation in my voice mixed with subtle disappointment was a little more than obvious. “Water is a little bit higher than I am used to.”

With that I stepped into water and barely managed to wade across the river to the other side. The water came up to where my stomach meets the chest less than halfway across. The current was swift and difficult to stand against. My only move was to literally go with the flow and aim for the shore on the other side before running into a large pool at the end of straightaway.

“Oh man. That was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. Going back my be real tricky.”

A few more steps and I am in what is called the “back section”, which is a bit presumptuous as the entire public stretch isn’t really large enough to have both a front and back section in my view. I simply refer to this area as “the thicket” due to the sometimes-overwhelming branch work that consumes this area. Moving through some parts is a lot like trying to push your way through a wave of hoplite spearmen. Rarely do I emerge on the other side without a scratch. But here is where I do catch most of the fish that have not been as battered as the ones on the front section. All of the fish caught were far smaller than I had hoped. It would be easy to blame the public pressure for this or even the bright, clear weather. But the blame game doesn’t put fish in my hand.

After working virtually every inch of the small section the window of time is swiftly closing. I could stay here all day but there is still a sizeable drive home and a bunch of things still on the “do list” for the day. As big as my fish expectations were, it was clear that now I would have to leave with only ho-hum results. Concern for the river crossing to get back seemed to overshadow the lack of fish bragging at this point. Due to heavy current of the river I would not be able to take the same path and would have to find another route across.

“I may have to start at the top of the stretch and wade down. Oh this could get ugly.”

Reaching the top of the stretch I can see two sandbars formed by the current. It looked as if I had a much better line of travel with the current than before. The only area of concern was the middle transition between to the two submerged sandbars (which were more gravel and rock than sand). My feet enter into the water for the second river crossing of the day. Everything is going well at first and my knees are barely getting wet. A few steps and the water is at my hips. The bar is fading in visibility beneath my feet. This is where I have to cross a deeper section to reach the bar on the other side. It looks about 3 feet, which is manageable, and after a few steps I am about 60% across.

“Almost there. Not too shabby.”

One more step with the current nudging me down the river it was as if the bottom dropped out from underneath me. I made the cut too soon and now found myself in a large hole. It was all I could do to hop on one toe keeping the waterline about a half-inch above the top of my waders. The backpack was providing buoyancy that I leaned against. This was a huge help for now but could become extra weight once it filled with water. Hopping along the river bottom at an angle I gave one last kick with my foot and barely reached the other bar. Below is a diagram that crudely represents both crossing paths and where I nearly drenched myself.
(Above: Ok so I am just going to come out and admit that sometimes my graphic’s team is really lame. They do one flashy picture for the Driving to Fish-Tips and then start goofing off again.)

When my feet touched back on dry land my lips nearly kissed the shoreline. My legs were shaking and my entire pack was soaked. My camera was dry and the river never tipped into my waders so everything was all right. Stripped off the waders, put on the semi-wet hiking shoes and prepped for the reverse cliff dive out. Funny how a vertical climb of a few hundred feet doesn’t seem to faze you after a near river dunk. The ho-hum fish results mattered much less at this point also. In the end I was satisfied with the solo trip that didn’t end up in disaster. On some trips that is about as good as it gets.

My name is Matt…still fishing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We will miss you, Bonny

Water becomes more and more of a premium concern for Colorado as it grapples with its own needs and the contractual obligations of other states. As populations grow in the state it becomes more and more apparent that anglers and other water goers will be on the losing end of this battle. Bonny Reservoir and State Park has been on the front line of this water fight. Being located in a drought ravaged area as well as the eastern state border has made saving this body of water virtually impossible. When water demands for Nebraska and Kansas come to the forefront, Bonny takes the brunt. After years of struggling Bonny will offer its last gallons of water to the east and be closed.
Bonny was built in 1951 and quickly became a recreational oasis on the eastern plains as well as storing water for irrigation and many other aquatic needs. The lake was created on a floodplain of the Republican River. This area has been affected by drought conditions that continue to linger or worsen every year.
Fish salvage is underway making this loss a little less painful. But for me it signals a much larger issue than just Bonny. Now that this lake is drained, how will Colorado continue to meet the water demands of both this state and others without seriously impacting other fisheries. The haunting reality is this…Bonny today, what will be lost tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fishing with Hookers

One of my lifelong dreams is to have my very own fishing show on some obscure cable TV channel. How cool would that be to have a camera crew follow me around and receive a sponsor budget over the usual 20 bucks leftover from my paycheck at the end of the week. For some silly reason I think my fishing style and personality would bring a fresh new outlook to the TV fishing scene with a freestyle edge you don’t see on the big yawn shmackity schmackity bla bla bla fishing shows.

Then I come across a team of anglers that have produced a fishing video that is nothing short of amazing. These guys show some of the behind the scene details and inner workings of just how difficult it can be to produce episodes of such quality. Move over Bill Dance…now there is “Fishing with Hookers”. Huge congrats to Robert Bertrand and team for putting this together.

Fishing With Hookers from Brett Eichenberger on Vimeo.

These guys have been around for a while apparently and like me they have been shunned from most professional media sources. That is a shame to say the least and I feel their pain. At some point I have to give up on trying to be accepted in certain fishing circles. The fact that I throw spin gear at trout and have more of a “face for radio” doesn’t help things either. Maybe I am not submitting my material to the right venues. Maybe fishing a few tournaments would help (I might prefer a sharp stick in the eye to be honest). Maybe I simply wanted to post a funny fishing video before heading to a dentist appointment.

My name is Mattsabasser and I just want to fish.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Return to the land of orcs

Approaching the cliff ledge that hides the river and dense foliage below, a gut check is followed by a hard swallow. Then the descent slowly downward on a steep path begins. This path leads into an area I call “The land of orcs” for its remnants of mining equipment that could tell tall tales of times long past and a horrible stench. The horrible stench always lingers on the upper trail that follows the cliff base. This smell resembles rotting flesh, decomposition and possibly the defecation of something horrible. Every time I walk this trail it feels as though the entrance to some sinister hollow is not far off.

The trees are tall and deciduous compared to the majestic pine more common to the area. The dense foliage is quick to swallow whatever sunlight that tries to enter. Even in the early stages of fall the landscape seems to envelop. Pathways are difficult to navigate and trails vanish in the deep grass before my eyes. The wind shifts, I smell the stench of orcs and immediately look over my shoulder. I wait for the birds to continue chirping before moving on.

Mosquitoes hovered around my face and collected on my clothes. They bite at every bit of exposed skin until reaching the shore. Stepping into the water and wading a foot or two out was the only escape. Beat off a few straggling skeetoes and look for position on the river. One angler was on the sweet spot wearing a bright red cap so the only option was to work the water downstream. This wasn’t exactly terrible as there was the remaining 75% of the stretch virtually untouched and unoccupied.

“There is still the old bridge.” I said with a glass half full attitude, which is rare for me.

No sooner had I said these words that the one angler left his original spot and disappeared into the forest. Shortly after that I heard scrambling in the woods behind me on the upper trail. Part of me wondered if the red cap-wearing angler was being chased by orcs.
“Better him than me.” I tried to reason with my concern and continue casting.

Minutes later the angler with the red cap popped out of the forest and back into the river. This time it was right at the old bridge. He was first to sweet spot so I guess he felt it would be best if he were first to the old bridge section as well. This boiled my blood for a brief moment but I chose to make the best of it by moving directly to the sweet spot where I wanted to fish in the first place.

“Orcs may still get that guy.”

Brown trout presentations were thrown out on the first rotation and worked my way to the gold, then silver. After an hour I went back to the brown and started getting hits. Eventually it came to me that it wasn’t so much the color as it was where the fish were. Pockets of water on the far side of the river and sandy ledges wasn’t necessarily “action town” but they would cough up a fish here and there.

Throwing out into a deeper section of water and I get a heavy thump on the line. My hands barely felt the bite as the fish hit while the lure was dropping. The line started racing upstream as my fingers quickly brought it the rest of the slack under a bit of panic. This fish was in no hurry to be landed and had plenty of room to run. I expected to lose the fish at any moment. Instead the head turned and the fish capitulated to the hand.

(Above: Beauty brown laying down for the photo op before going back into the drink. Waders make those “in the water” shots so much easier. More photo props go out to Don for the fish pics on this trip.)

The sweet spot paid off with the beauty brown and several smaller trout. It seemed that the higher flows mixed with cloudy weather made fish more willing to bite. The brown trout moving into spawn mode didn’t seem to hurt things either. But during the brief moments where the clouds would part and the sun would bless the landscape, fish action shut down to practically zero. Bug activity was down as well. Once the clouds returned everything went back on as if someone hit a light switch.

Clouds seemed to help the fishing action but also turned casual shadows into menacing dark spaces where evil creatures tend to dwell. Even the songs of birds seemed less cheerful than usual carrying a dreary tone. Maybe it was a melody of caution as much as a tribute to others who might have perished in this stretch if hidden canyon. Moving along this stretch you see many signs of people that may have met a terrible fate running through here. Or it could be left over mining equipment.
Start making my way back to the bridge section and I notice red cap angler is no longer in the section. He may have slipped out while I was on one of the far reaching bends. He may have been eaten by orcs. One thing was certain and mattered most to me right now…the bridge spot was open. Carefully, quietly, I waded out of the shallow water and made my way to the high trail. In a few moments my feet cut back to the river and back into the shallow water followed by more mosquitoes.

Cast out to the far side and bring the lure across the deep drift. Rather than running gracefully through the pool I clumsily come in contact with a submerged rock. The lure stops and I deduce that the hook has caught up on some moss or the rock itself. The line stays in one position but is more or less fighting the current and somehow slowly taking drag. Then an enormous silver tail comes out of the water near the rock. It takes me a minute to figure it out but somehow for once in my life I have hooked into one of the larger bows on this stretch. I hold my breath for every fin slap, head turn and reel crank on a fish like this.

(Above: Great shot in less than perfect light. I am extremely honored to hold this fish.)

Working the old bridge section to the very end yielded a few more fish but nothing over the twelve-inch category. Moving beyond this fence line would most likely bring an encounter far worse than the imaginary orcs that dwell here only in my mind. Ethics and landowners with guns forbid me to go any further.

“Nothing left but the long hike out.”

Back on dry ground my eyes spot an opening in the trees. At first it looks like what could be a faded deer trail or an excellent place for an ambush. Grass surprisingly tall for this time of year mixed with dense tree foliage is deceiving at best and potentially treacherous the rest of the time. Rather than try to bushwack my way through I decide to reverse course and look for other options. A little backtracking reveals a more reliable trail. From there I make my way to the upper trail and follow that to the old gravel road. The same gravel road possibly carved by mountain dwarves or possibly miners back in the day.

The arduous hike out is far more painful than the cautious walk in. After ducking and dodging orcs or even red capped anglers for fish on this stretch a long hike out taps whatever fuel reserves are left in the tank. Reaching the vehicle is sweet bliss and at last I give a sigh of relief and let out air my lungs have been holding since fish one.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.